The type III polysaccharides of group B Streptococcus in its native state chemically consists of glucose, galactose, glucosamine, and sialic acid. The core of this polysaccharide lacks sialic acid and precipitates with type III antiserum to give a partial identity with the precipitate between the native antigen and this serum. The core determinant is immunochemically similar to the capsular polysaccharide of type XIV Streptococcus pneumoniae, while the native type III group B streptococcal polysaccharide does not cross-react with type XIV pneumococcal antiserum. In human sera, it is antibody directed to the native antigen which correlates very highly with opsonic immunity (r = 0.94) while a poorer correlation exists between antibody to the core antigen and opsonins (r = 0.51 P less than 0.001). In natural infections, as association exists between low levels of maternal antibody to the native antigen and risk of disease in the infant. This association is not true for antibody to the core structure, where both infected infants and their mothers have much higher levels of antibody to the core than the native antigens. Infected infants are also more likely to respond to infection by developing antibody to the native antigen. Immunization of 12 adults with multivalent pneumococcal polysaccharide induced significantly better antibody response to the core antigen than to the native, and this vaccine induced opsonic activity in only one recipient. Immunization of adults with type III group B streptococcal antigens induced antibody to the native determinant which correlated with opsonic activity. Therefore, it would appear that native group B streptococcal polysaccharides will provide the best candidate antigens for immunization.

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