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Infect Immun. Nov 1993; 61(11): 4569–4574.
PMCID: PMC281206

Epithelial cells secrete the chemokine interleukin-8 in response to bacterial entry.


Bacterial invasion of mucosal surfaces results in a rapid influx of polymorphonuclear leukocytes. The chemotactic stimulus responsible for this response is not known. Since epithelial cells are among the first cells entered by many enteric pathogens, we investigated the ability of epithelial cells to provide an early signal for the mucosal inflammatory response through the release of chemotactic cytokines. As shown herein, the chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8), a potent chemoattractant and activator of polymorphonuclear leukocytes, was secreted by intestinal and cervical epithelial cells in response to bacterial entry. Moreover, a variety of different bacteria, including those that remain inside phagosomal vacuoles, e.g., Salmonella spp., and those that enter the cytoplasm, e.g., Listeria monocytogenes, stimulated this response. Increased IL-8 mRNA levels could be detected within 90 min after infection. Neither bacterial lipopolysaccharide nor noninvasive bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecium, induced an IL-8 response. Moreover, tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is known to be expressed by some epithelial cells, was not detected in the culture supernatants after bacterial entry, and addition of anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha antibodies had no effect on the IL-8 response following bacterial entry. These data suggest the novel concept that epithelial cells serve as an early signaling system to host immune and inflammatory cells in the underlying mucosa following bacterial entry.

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