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Mol Genet Metab. 2001 Jul;73(3):259-67.

Impairment of type III group B Streptococcus-stimulated superoxide production and opsonophagocytosis by neutrophils in diabetes.

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Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The effect of hyperglycemia upon susceptibility to bacterial infection in diabetes mellitus is incompletely elucidated. The present experiments assessed the effect of hyperglycemia upon neutrophil-mediated phagocytosis of type III group B Streptococcus (GBS). Type III GBS was chosen for study because the incidence of invasive GBS disease is substantially increased in type 2 diabetic compared with nondiabetic subjects. The hypothesis tested was that severe hyperglycemia would alter neutrophil metabolism by diverting NADPH from superoxide production into the aldose reductase-dependent polyol pathway that converts glucose into sorbitol and thus would impair opsonophagocytosis (OP) of type III GBS. Neutrophils from 10 adults with type 2 diabetes had no intrinsic phagocytic defect under baseline glycemic conditions. After equilibration in 60 or 120 mM glucose or in 60 mM choline chloride, OP activity was reduced significantly (P < or = 0.03). Neutrophil superoxide production correlated with glucose concentration and also was significantly reduced during hyperglycemia (P < 0.05). Addition of III GBS capsular polysaccharide-specific IgG in a sufficient concentration supported efficient OP, even during hyperglycemia. Alrestatin, an aldose reductase inhibitor, increased superoxide production and significantly improved OP of type III GBS (P = 0.03). Thus, diversion of NADPH into the polyol pathway is one mechanism by which OP of GBS III is impaired during hyperglycemia, and this effect is mitigated when levels of capsular polysaccharide-specific IgG are sufficient.

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