The coordinated action of a variety of virulence factors allows Salmonella enterica to invade epithelial cells and penetrate the mucosal barrier. The influence of the age-dependent maturation of the mucosal barrier for microbial pathogenesis has not been investigated. Here, we analyzed Salmonella infection of neonate mice after oral administration. In contrast to the situation in adult animals, we observed spontaneous colonization, massive invasion of enteroabsorptive cells, intraepithelial proliferation and the formation of large intraepithelial microcolonies. Mucosal translocation was dependent on enterocyte invasion in neonates in the absence of microfold (M) cells. It further resulted in potent innate immune stimulation in the absence of pronounced neutrophil-dominated pathology. Our results identify factors of age-dependent host susceptibility and provide important insight in the early steps of Salmonella infection in vivo. We also present a new small animal model amenable to genetic manipulation of the host for the analysis of the Salmonella enterocyte interaction in vivo.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMP) provide protection from infection by pathogenic microorganisms and restrict bacterial growth at epithelial surfaces to maintain mucosal homeostasis. In addition, they exert a significant anti-inflammatory activity. Here we analysed the anatomical distribution and biological activity of an orally administered AMP in the context of bacterial infection and host-microbial homeostasis.
Streptococcus pneumoniae and Listeria monocytogenes, pathogens which can cause severe infectious disease in human, were used to infect properdin-deficient and wildtype mice. The aim was to deduce a role for properdin, positive regulator of the alternative pathway of complement activation, by comparing and contrasting the immune response of the two genotypes in vivo. We show that properdin-deficient and wildtype mice mounted antipneumococcal serotype-specific IgM antibodies, which were protective. Properdin-deficient mice, however, had increased survival in the model of streptococcal pneumonia and sepsis. Low activity of the classical pathway of complement and modulation of Fc?R2b expression appear to be pathogenically involved. In listeriosis, however, properdin-deficient mice had reduced survival and a dendritic cell population that was impaired in maturation and activity. In vitro analyses of splenocytes and bone marrow-derived myeloid cells support the view that the opposing outcomes of properdin-deficient and wildtype mice in these two infection models is likely to be due to a skewing of macrophage activity to an M2 phenotype in the properdin-deficient mice. The phenotypes observed thus appear to reflect the extent to which M2- or M1-polarised macrophages are involved in the immune responses to S. pneumoniae and L. monocytogenes. We conclude that properdin controls the strength of immune responses by affecting humoral as well as cellular phenotypes during acute bacterial infection and ensuing inflammation.
Bacterial infections are known to cause severe health-threatening conditions, including sepsis. All attempts to get this disease under control failed in the past, and especially in times of increasing antibiotic resistance, this leads to one of the most urgent medical challenges of our times. We designed a peptide to bind with high affinity to endotoxins, one of the most potent pathogenicity factors involved in triggering sepsis. The peptide Pep19-2.5 reveals high endotoxin neutralization efficiency in vitro, and here, we demonstrate its antiseptic/anti-inflammatory effects in vivo in the mouse models of endotoxemia, bacteremia, and cecal ligation and puncture, as well as in an ex vivo model of human tissue. Furthermore, we show that Pep19-2.5 can bind and neutralize not only endotoxins but also other bacterial pathogenicity factors, such as those from the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This broad neutralization efficiency and the additive action of the peptide with common antibiotics makes it an exceptionally appropriate drug candidate against bacterial sepsis and also offers multiple other medication opportunities.
Intestinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury causes inflammation and tissue damage and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Uncontrolled activation of the innate immune system through toll-like receptors (Tlr) plays a key role in I/R-mediated tissue damage but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully resolved. Here, we identify post-transcriptional upregulation of the essential Tlr signalling molecule interleukin 1 receptor-associated kinase (Irak) 1 as the causative mechanism for post-ischemic immune hyper-responsiveness of intestinal epithelial cells. Increased Irak1 protein levels enhanced epithelial ligand responsiveness, chemokine secretion, apoptosis and mucosal barrier disruption in an experimental intestinal I/R model using wild-type, Irak1(-/-) and Tlr4(-/-) mice and ischemic human intestinal tissue. Irak1 accumulation under hypoxic conditions was associated with reduced K48 ubiquitination and enhanced Senp1-mediated deSUMOylation of Irak1. Importantly, administration of microRNA (miR)-146a or induction of miR-146a by the phytochemical diindolylmethane controlled Irak1 upregulation and prevented immune hyper-responsiveness in mouse and human tissue. These findings indicate that Irak1 accumulation triggers I/R-induced epithelial immune hyper-responsiveness and suggest that the induction of miR-146a offers a promising strategy to prevent I/R tissue injury.
The bacterial cell wall represents the primary target for antimicrobial agents. Microbial destruction is accompanied by the release of potent immunostimulatory membrane constituents. Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria release a variety of lipoproteins and peptidoglycan fragments. Gram-positive bacteria additionally provide lipoteichoic acids, whereas Gram-negative bacteria also release lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin), essential component of the outer leaflet of the bacterial cell wall and one of the most potent immunostimulatory molecules known. Immune activation therefore can be considered as an adverse effect of antimicrobial destruction and killing during anti-infective treatment. In contrast to antibiotics, the use of cationic amphiphilic antimicrobial peptides allows both effective bacterial killing and inhibition of the immunostimulatory effect of the released bacterial membrane constituents. The administration of antimicrobial peptides alone or in combination with antibiotic agents thus represents a novel strategy in the antiinfective treatment with potentially important beneficial aspects. Here, data are presented which describe immunological and clinical aspects of the use of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as therapeutic agents to treat bacterial infection and neutralize the immunostimulatory activity of released cell wall constituents.
The first barrier that an antimicrobial agent must overcome when interacting with its target is the microbial cell wall. In the case of Gram-negative bacteria, additional to the cytoplasmic membrane and the peptidoglycan layer, an outer membrane (OM) is the outermost barrier. The OM has an asymmetric distribution of the lipids with phospholipids and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) located in the inner and outer leaflets, respectively. In contrast, Gram-positive bacteria lack OM and possess a much thicker peptidoglycan layer compared to their Gram-negative counterparts. An additional class of amphiphiles exists in Gram-positives, the lipoteichoic acids (LTA), which may represent important structural components. These long molecules cross-bridge the entire cell envelope with their lipid component inserting into the outer leaflet of the cytoplasmic membrane and the teichoic acid portion penetrating into the peptidoglycan layer. Furthermore, both classes of bacteria have other important amphiphiles, such as lipoproteins, whose importance has become evident only recently. It is not known yet whether any of these amphiphilic components are able to stimulate the immune system under physiological conditions as constituents of intact bacteria. However, all of them have a very high pro-inflammatory activity when released from the cell. Such a release may take place through the interaction with the immune system, or with antibiotics (particularly with those targeting cell wall components), or simply by the bacterial division. Therefore, a given antimicrobial agent must ideally have a double character, namely, it must overcome the bacterial cell wall barrier, without inducing the liberation of the pro-inflammatory amphiphiles. Here, new data are presented which describe the development and use of membrane-active antimicrobial agents, in particular antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and lipopolyamines. In this way, essential progress was achieved, in particular with respect to the inhibition of deleterious consequences of bacterial infections such as severe sepsis and septic shock.
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