The treatment of pneumococcic septicemia in the rabbits by large doses of immune serum is detrimental, since the serum causes the formation of large clumps of bacteria in the blood which are taken out chiefly by the vessels of the lungs in which they accumulate and impede the circulation.
The large doses of serum are also detrimental when they follow upon small ones through which the small clumps formed are deposited in the spleen, liver, and other organs. In this instance, the large amount of serum leads to the destruction of the pneumococci under conditions which promote an intoxication. The precise mechanism of this action is not known.
The treatment of pneumococcic septicemia in rabbits by small repeated doses of immune serum can be successfully carried out. The number of pneumococci capable of being brought to destruction through phagocytosis in the organs in this way is very great.
Not all the rabbits treated with small repeated doses of the serum survive. Those that succumb do so not to a general infection but to a pneumococcus meningitis. The explanation of this phenomenon is simple. When the number of pneumococci originally inoculated is very great a small number penetrate into the subdural space. Those in this space do not come under the influence of the serum, hence they are not agglutinated and prepared for phagocytosis, whence they multiply and set up a fatal meningitis.
The activity of the immune serum administered in this way against virulent pneumococci is so great that a revision of our notions in the limit of powers of the anti-infectious sera seems necessary. It is patent that the problem is not simply a relation between quantity of immune bodies and number of bacteria. It is more complex than that conception indicates. The factor of the leucocytes and the degree of their possible activities under the conditions of the experiment come into play. Hereafter, in defining the mode and power of action of anti-infectious sera the condition of cooperation of the body-forces will have to be more strictly considered.