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Microbes Infect. 2007 Jul;9(8):981-7. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

Metabolism of nitric oxide by Neisseria meningitidis modifies release of NO-regulated cytokines and chemokines by human macrophages.

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  • 1Academic Unit of Infection and Immunity, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, S10 2RX, UK. t.stevanin@sheffield.ac.uk


Macrophages produce nitric oxide (NO) via the inducible nitric oxide synthase as part of a successful response to infection. The gene norB of Neisseria meningitidis encodes a NO reductase which enables utilization and consumption of NO during microaerobic respiration and confers resistance to nitrosative stress-related killing by human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). In this study we confirmed that NO regulates cytokine and chemokine release by resting MDM: accumulation of TNF-alpha, IL-12, IL-10, CCL5 (RANTES) and CXCL8 (IL-8) in MDM supernatants was significantly modified by the NO-donor S-nitroso-N-penicillamine (SNAP). Using a protein array, infection of MDM with N. meningitidis was shown to be associated with secretion of a wide range of cytokines and chemokines. To test whether NO metabolism by N. meningitidis modifies release of NO-regulated cytokines, we infected MDM with wild-type organisms and an isogenic norB strain. Resulting expression of the cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-12, and the chemokine CXCL8 was increased and production of the cytokine IL-10 and the chemokine CCL5 was decreased in norB-infected MDM, in comparison to wild-type. Addition of SNAP to cultures infected with wild-type mimicked the effect observed in cultures infected with the norB mutant. In conclusion, NorB-catalysed removal of NO modifies cellular release of NO-regulated cytokines and chemokines.

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