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J Immunol. 2005 Mar 15;174(6):3643-9.

Pyocyanin production by Pseudomonas aeruginosa induces neutrophil apoptosis and impairs neutrophil-mediated host defenses in vivo.

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Division of Clinical Sciences (North), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom.


Clearance of neutrophils from inflamed sites is critical for resolution of inflammation, but pathogen-driven neutrophil apoptosis can impair host defenses. We previously showed that pyocyanin, a phenazine toxic metabolite produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, accelerates neutrophil apoptosis in vitro. We compared wild-type and pyocyanin-deficient strains of P. aeruginosa in a murine model of acute pneumonia. Intratracheal instillation of either strain of P. aeruginosa caused a rapid increase in bronchoalveolar lavage neutrophil counts up to 18 h after infection. In wild-type infection, neutrophil numbers then declined steadily, whereas neutrophil numbers increased up to 48 h in mice infected with pyocyanin-deficient P. aeruginosa. In keeping with these differences, pyocyanin production was associated with reduced bacterial clearance from the lungs. Neutrophil apoptosis was increased in mice infected with wild-type compared with the phenazine-deficient strain or two further strains that lack pyocyanin production, but produce other phenazines. Concentrations of potent neutrophil chemokines (MIP-2, KC) and cytokines (IL-6, IL-1beta) were significantly lower in wild-type compared with phenazine-deficient strain-infected mice at 18 h. We conclude that pyocyanin production by P. aeruginosa suppresses the acute inflammatory response by pathogen-driven acceleration of neutrophil apoptosis and by reducing local inflammation, and that this is advantageous for bacterial survival.

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