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Microbes Infect. 2007 Jul;9(8):981-7. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

Metabolism of nitric oxide by Neisseria meningitidis modifies release of NO-regulated cytokines and chemokines by human macrophages.

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  • 1Academic Unit of Infection and Immunity, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, S10 2RX, UK.


Macrophages produce nitric oxide (NO) via the inducible nitric oxide synthase as part of a successful response to infection. The gene norB of Neisseria meningitidis encodes a NO reductase which enables utilization and consumption of NO during microaerobic respiration and confers resistance to nitrosative stress-related killing by human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). In this study we confirmed that NO regulates cytokine and chemokine release by resting MDM: accumulation of TNF-alpha, IL-12, IL-10, CCL5 (RANTES) and CXCL8 (IL-8) in MDM supernatants was significantly modified by the NO-donor S-nitroso-N-penicillamine (SNAP). Using a protein array, infection of MDM with N. meningitidis was shown to be associated with secretion of a wide range of cytokines and chemokines. To test whether NO metabolism by N. meningitidis modifies release of NO-regulated cytokines, we infected MDM with wild-type organisms and an isogenic norB strain. Resulting expression of the cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-12, and the chemokine CXCL8 was increased and production of the cytokine IL-10 and the chemokine CCL5 was decreased in norB-infected MDM, in comparison to wild-type. Addition of SNAP to cultures infected with wild-type mimicked the effect observed in cultures infected with the norB mutant. In conclusion, NorB-catalysed removal of NO modifies cellular release of NO-regulated cytokines and chemokines.

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