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Infect Immun. Sep 1996; 64(9): 3512–3517.
PMCID: PMC174256

Involvement of superoxide and myeloperoxidase in oxygen-dependent killing of Staphylococcus aureus by neutrophils.


We have used a quantitative assay that measures independent rate constants for phagocytosis and killing of Staphylococcus aureus to investigate the involvement of superoxide and myeloperoxidase in bacterial killing by human neutrophils. To inhibit superoxide-dependent processes, superoxide dismutase was cross-linked to immunoglobulin G and the conjugate was attached to the surface of S. aureus via protein A in its cell wall. Myeloperoxidase was inhibited with azide, and myeloperoxidase-deficient neutrophils were used. Adding the NADPH oxidase inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium, to prevent superoxide production, decreased the killing rate to 25%, indicating that oxidative killing mechanisms predominate in this system. The rate constant for killing of S. aureus with superoxide dismutase attached was 70% of that for control bacteria linked to inactivated enzyme. Superoxide dismutase had no effect in the presence of diphenyleneiodonium. The rate of killing was decreased to 33% in the presence of azide and to 40% with myeloperoxidase-deficient neutrophils. Superoxide dismutase had no effect in the presence of azide. On the assumption that the oxidative and nonoxidative components of killing can be considered separately, the oxidative rate was decreased by almost half by superoxide dismutase and was about six times lower when myeloperoxidase was inactive. We conclude that myeloperoxidase-dependent processes are strongly favored by human neutrophils as their prime mechanism of oxidative killing of S. aureus and that superoxide makes a direct contribution to killing. Our results also suggest that superoxide acts in conjunction with a myeloperoxidase-dependent pathway.

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Selected References

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