The mechanisms underlying the effects of immunoglobulins on bacterial infections are thought to involve bacterial cell lysis via complement activation, phagocytosis via bacterial opsonization, toxin neutralization, and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Nevertheless, recent advances in the study of the pathogenicity of Gram-negative bacteria have raised the possibility of an association between immunoglobulin and bacterial toxin secretion. Over time, new toxin secretion systems like the type III secretion system have been discovered in many pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. With this system, the bacterial toxins are directly injected into the cytoplasm of the target cell through a special secretory apparatus without any exposure to the extracellular environment, and therefore with no opportunity for antibodies to neutralize the toxin. However, antibodies against the V-antigen, which is located on the needle-shaped tip of the bacterial secretion apparatus, can inhibit toxin translocation, thus raising the hope that the toxin may be susceptible to antibody targeting. Because multi-drug resistant bacteria are now prevalent, inhibiting this secretion mechanism is an attractive alternative or adjunctive therapy against lethal bacterial infections. Thus, it is not unreasonable to define the blocking effect of anti-V-antigen antibodies as the fifth mechanism for immunoglobulin action against bacterial infections.
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