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J Immunol. 2006 Jul 15;177(2):1221-8.

Streptococcal M protein: a multipotent and powerful inducer of inflammation.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Section for Clinical and Experimental Infection Medicine, Biomedicinskt Centrum B14, Lund University, Tornavägen 10, SE-221 84 Lund, Sweden.


Severe infections with Streptococcus pyogenes, an important human pathogen, are associated with massive inflammatory reactions in the human host. Here we show that streptococcal M protein interacts with TLR2 on human peripheral blood monocytes. As a consequence, monocytes express the cytokines IL-6, IL-1beta, and TNF-alpha. This response is significantly increased in the presence of neutrophil-derived heparin-binding protein (HBP), which co-stimulates monocytes by interacting with CD11/CD18. Analysis of tissue biopsies from patients with necrotizing fasciitis revealed recruitment of neutrophils and monocytes to the infectious site, combined with the release of HBP. The results show that M protein, in synergy with HBP, evokes an inflammatory response that may contribute to the profound pathophysiological consequences seen in severe streptococcal infections.

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