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Infect Immun. 2011 May;79(5):1898-904. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01299-10. Epub 2011 Mar 14.

Participation of CD11c(+) leukocytes in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus clearance from the lung.

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Department of Pharmacology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Staphylococcus aureus causes especially severe pulmonary infection, associated with high morbidity and mortality. In addition to the effects of specific virulence factors, it appears that the intensity of the host proinflammatory response, particularly in the initial stages of infection, contributes substantially to pulmonary damage. We tested the hypothesis that the CD11c(+) leukocytes are important in the host response to pulmonary infection with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) USA300. Clodronate-induced depletion of the alveolar macrophage population resulted in increased numbers of dendritic cells (DCs) and CD4(+) cells in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and was associated with significantly increased mortality by 18 h following S. aureus inoculation but had no effect on bacterial load or polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) numbers in the lung. These clodronate-treated mice also had increased expression of interleukin-17A/F (IL-17A/F) and CXCL10 but not of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) or tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Depletion of the dendritic cell population in mice expressing a CD11c-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) transgene was associated with an increased bacterial load in the lung but not increased mortality. Both DCs and airway epithelial cells produced CXCL9, -10, and -11 in response to S. aureus. Pretreatment of mice with an anti-CXCR3 antibody prior to inoculation with MRSA substantially reduced CD4(+) cells and decreased pulmonary inflammation at 18 h postinfection compared to pretreatment with an IgG control. The results of these experiments suggest that CD11c(+) cells, the induction of CXCR3 ligand expression, and subsequent CD4(+) cell recruitment have an important role in the pathogenesis of severe MRSA pulmonary infection.

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