Heat labile opsonins (HLO) in normal rat serum to both encapsulated and unencapsulated pneumococci (a) have the same heat lability as complement (C); (b) are active at 37°C but not at 0°C; (c) are inactivated proportionately to hemolytic C by the addition of immune aggregates to the serum; (d) are adsorbed from serum nonspecifically by bacteria at 37°C but not at 0°C; (e) are Ca++- and/or Mg++-dependent in their action; and (f) are inactivated by zymosan and a purified cobra venom factor, and in the case of encapsulated pneumococci, at least, by NH4OH. Like other opsonins, HLO to pneumococci act primarily on the bacteria rather than on the phagocytes. Their combined properties indicate that they involve multiple components of the hemolytic C system.

Since HLO are immunologically polyspecific, they presumably play a broad protective role in the early (preantibody) phase of acute bacterial infections.

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