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Cell Microbiol. 2005 Jan;7(1):29-38.

Anaplasma phagocytophilum inhibits human neutrophil apoptosis via upregulation of bfl-1, maintenance of mitochondrial membrane potential and prevention of caspase 3 activation.

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


The inhibition of neutrophil apoptosis plays a central role in human granulocytic anaplasmosis. Intracellular signalling pathways through which the obligatory intracellular bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum inhibits the spontaneous apoptosis of human peripheral blood neutrophils were investigated. bfl-1 mRNA levels in uninfected neutrophils after 12 h in culture were reduced to approximately 5-25% of 0 h levels, but remained high in infected neutrophils. The eukaryotic RNA synthesis inhibitor, actinomycin D, prevented the maintenance of bfl-1 mRNA levels by A. phagocytophilum. Differences in mcl-1, bax, bcl-w, bad or bak mRNA levels in infected versus uninfected neutrophils were not remarkable. By using mitochondrial fluorescent dyes, Mitotracker Red and JC-1, it was found that most uninfected neutrophils lost mitochondrial membrane potential after 10-12 h incubation, whereas A. phagocytophilum-infected neutrophils maintained high membrane potential. Caspase 3 activity and the degree of apoptosis were lower in dose-dependent manner in A. phagocytophilum-infected neutrophils at 16 h post infection, as compared to uninfected neutrophils. Anti-active caspase 3 antibody labelling showed less positively stained population in infected neutrophils compared to those in uninfected neutrophils after 12 h incubation. These results suggest that A. phagocytophilum inhibits human neutrophil apoptosis via transcriptional upregulation of bfl-1 and inhibition of mitochondria-mediated activation of caspase 3.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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