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Inflammation. 1999 Jun;23(3):217-30.

Gram positive bacteria induce IL-6 and IL-8 production in human alveolar macrophages and epithelial cells.

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Department of Occupational Medicine, National Institute for Working Life, Solna, Sweden.



Inhalation of dust from swine confinement buildings results in an acute inflammatory reaction in the respiratory tract. The dust has a high microbial content, dominated by Gram positive bacteria. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the significance of bacteria in the induction of IL-6 and IL-8 release from respiratory epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages. The results would give an indication to what extent the bacteria contribute to the toxic inflammation following exposure to swine dust.


Epithelial cells from a human lung carcinoma cell line (A549) and human alveolar macrophages obtained from healthy subjects by bronchoalveolar lavage, were stimulated with swine dust, LPS, one Gram negative and four Gram positive bacteria strains. The dose-response release of IL-6 and IL-8 were studied. In addition, a bacteria-free supernatant was prepared from each strain and used for stimulation.


With a few exceptions, a dose-dependent IL-6 and IL-8 release was demonstrated from both cell types after stimulation with bacteria. In epithelial cells, Escherichia coli was the most potent bacteria at the highest concentration of 400 bacteria/cell regarding secretion of both IL-6 and IL-8 (P < 0.001), followed by Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus lentus. In alveolar macrophages, S. lentus was the most potent strain (P < 0.001) in inducing cytokine release (P < 0.001), followed by S. hominis and E. coli concerning IL-6 secretion or Micrococcus luteus and E. coli with respect to IL-8 secretion (P < 0.001). Differences in potency between the various bacteria could be demonstrated, both within the two cell types as well as between the epithelial cells and macrophages. Bacteria-free supernatants were also able to induce cytokine release in both cell types. In macrophages the supernatants were even more potent stimuli than whole bacteria.


The results indicate that bacteria or bacterial products could be an important contributing factor to the inflammatory reaction following exposure to swine dust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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