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Infect Immun. 1996 Aug;64(8):3236-43.

Roles for tumor necrosis factor alpha and nitric oxide in resistance of rat alveolar macrophages to Legionella pneumophila.

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Medical Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Seattle, Washington 98108, USA.


Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular parasite of alveolar macrophages, and recovery from legionellosis is associated with activation of alveolar macrophages to resist intracellular bacterial replication. Gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) is known to activate alveolar macrophages to suppress L. pneumophila, but the role of macrophage-derived cytokines in modulating alveolar macrophage resistance is unknown. To test the hypothesis that macrophage-derived mediators contribute to the resistance of alveolar macrophages to L. pneumophila, we incubated adherent rat alveolar macrophages with Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS), recombinant tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), recombinant IFN-gamma, neutralizing anti-TNF-alpha, and/or N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA) for 6 h before challenge with L. pneumophila. Monolayers were sonically disrupted and quantitatively cultured on successive days. We also measured bioactive TNF-alpha release by infected macrophages in the presence or absence of IFN-gamma. We found that pretreatment of alveolar macrophages with LPS or, to a lesser degree, TNF-alpha, significantly inhibited intracellular replication of L. pneumophila. Both LPS and TNF-alpha acted synergistically with IFN-gamma at less than the maximally activating concentration to suppress L. pneumophila growth. The independent and coactivating effects of LPS were blocked by anti-TNF-alpha. Killing of L. pneumophila by IFN-gamma at the maximally activating concentration was inhibited by anti-TNF-alpha. The synergistic effects of TNF-alpha. or LPS in combination with IFN-gamma were inhibited by L-NMMA. Infected alveolar macrophages secreted TNF-alpha in proportion to the bacterial inoculum, and secretion of TNF-alpha was potentiated by cocultivation with IFN-gamma. These data indicate that secretion of TNF-alpha is an important autocrine defense mechanism of alveolar macrophages, serving to potentiate the activating effects of IFN-gamma through costimulation of nitric oxide synthesis.

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