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J Leukoc Biol. 2012 Feb;91(2):275-84. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0711356. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Strain-dependent induction of neutrophil histamine production and cell death by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Airway diseases often feature persistent neutrophilic inflammation and infection. In cystic fibrosis bronchitis, for example, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is isolated frequently. Previously, this laboratory revealed that neutrophils become major sources of histamine in mice with tracheobronchitis caused by the wall-less bacterium Mycoplasma pulmonis. To test the hypothesis that more-broadly pathogenic P. aeruginosa (which expresses cell wall-associated LPS and novel toxins) has similar effects, we incubated naïve mouse neutrophils with two strains of P. aeruginosa. Strain PAO1 greatly increased neutrophil histamine content and secretion, whereas strain PA103 depressed histamine production by killing neutrophils. The histamine-stimulating capacity of PAO1, but not PA103-mediated toxicity, persisted in heat-killed organisms. In PAO1-infected mice, lung and neutrophil histamine content increased. However, PAO1 did not alter production by mast cells (classical histamine reservoirs), which also resisted PA103 toxicity. To explore mechanisms of neutrophil-selective induction, we measured changes in mRNA encoding histidine decarboxylase (rate-limiting for histamine synthesis), probed involvement of endotoxin-TLR pathways in Myd88-deficient neutrophils, and examined contributions of pyocyanin and exotoxins. Results revealed that PAO1 increased histamine production by up-regulating histidine decarboxylase mRNA via pathways largely independent of TLR, pyocyanin, and type III secretion system exotoxins. PAO1 also increased histidine decarboxylase mRNA in neutrophils purified from infected lung. Stimulation required direct contact with neutrophils and was blocked by phagocytosis inhibitor cytochalasin D. In summary, Pseudomonas-augmented histamine production by neutrophils is strain-dependent in vitro and likely mediated by up-regulation of histidine decarboxylase. These findings raise the possibility that Pseudomonas-stimulated neutrophils can enhance airway inflammation by producing histamine.

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