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Am J Pathol. 1993 Oct;143(4):1016-23.

Interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha exert their antirickettsial effect via induction of synthesis of nitric oxide.

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Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0609.


How the host defenses control rickettsiae in the cytosol of nonphagocytic host cells, where they are not exposed to antibodies or phagocytes, has posed a difficult question. Rickettsia conorii infection of a mouse fibroblast cell line was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by nitrogen oxide synthesized by eukaryotic host cells stimulated by interferon-gamma or tumor necrosis factor-alpha. L-arginine was the source of the nitric oxide as demonstrated by competitive inhibition by NG-monomethyl-L-arginine. Nitric oxide synthesis required host cell protein synthesis and had an approximately 48-hour lag phase following cytokine stimulation. At low doses of interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which had no detectable response as single agents, dramatic synergistic nitric oxide synthesis and antirickettsial effects were observed.

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