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Infect Immun. 2000 Aug;68(8):4430-40.

Induction of proinflammatory cytokines from human respiratory epithelial cells after stimulation by nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae.

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Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) causes repeated respiratory infections in patients with chronic lung diseases. These infections are characterized by a brisk inflammatory response which results in the accumulation of polymorphonucleated cells in the lungs and is dependent on the expression and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. We hypothesize that multiple NTHi molecules, including lipooligosaccharide (LOS), mediate cellular interactions with respiratory epithelial cells, leading to the production of proinflammatory cytokines. To address this hypothesis, we exposed 9HTEo- human tracheal epithelial cells to NTHi and compared the resulting profiles of cytokine gene expression and secretion using multiprobe RNase protection assays and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), respectively. Dose-response experiments demonstrated a maximum stimulation of most cytokines tested, using a ratio of 100 NTHi bacterial cells to 1 9HTEo- tracheal epithelial cell. Compared with purified LOS, NTHi bacterial cells stimulated 3.6- and 4.5-fold increases in epithelial cell expression of interleukin-8 (IL-8) and IL-6 genes, respectively. Similar results were seen with epithelial cell macrophage chemotactic protein 1, IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, and tumor necrosis factor alpha expression. Polymyxin B completely inhibited LOS stimulation but only partially reduced NTHi whole cell stimulation. Taken together, these results suggest that multiple bacterial molecules including LOS contribute to the NTHi stimulation of respiratory epithelial cell cytokine production. Moreover, no correlation was seen between NTHi adherence to epithelial cells mediated by hemagglutinating pili, Hia, HMW1, HMW2, and Hap and epithelial cytokine secretion. These data suggest that bacterial molecules beyond previously described NTHi cell surface adhesins and LOS play a role in the induction of proinflammatory cytokines from respiratory epithelial cells.

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