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J Immunol. 2013 Sep 15;191(6):3297-307. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1300200. Epub 2013 Aug 16.

Persistence of the bacterial pathogen Granulibacter bethesdensis in chronic granulomatous disease monocytes and macrophages lacking a functional NADPH oxidase.

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Laboratory of Host Defenses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Granulibacter bethesdensis is a Gram-negative pathogen in patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a deficiency in the phagocyte NADPH oxidase. Repeated isolation of genetically identical strains from the same patient over years, and prolonged waxing and waning seropositivity in some subjects, raises the possibility of long-term persistence. G. bethesdensis resists killing by serum, CGD polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN), and antimicrobial peptides, indicating resistance to nonoxidative killing mechanisms. Although G. bethesdensis extends the survival of PMN, persistent intracellular bacterial survival might rely on longer-lived macrophages and their precursor monocytes. Therefore, we examined phagocytic killing by primary human monocytes and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). Cells from both normal and CGD subjects internalized G. bethesdensis similarly. G. bethesdensis stimulated superoxide production in normal monocytes, but to a lesser degree than in normal PMN. Normal but not CGD monocytes and MDM killed G. bethesdensis and required in vitro treatment with IFN-γ to maintain this killing effect. Although in vitro IFN-γ did not enhance G. bethesdensis killing in CGD monocytes, it restricted growth in proportion to CGD PMN residual superoxide production, providing a potential method to identify patients responsive to IFN-γ therapy. In IFN-γ-treated CGD MDM, G. bethesdensis persisted for the duration of the study (7 d) without decreasing viability of the host cells. These results indicate that G. bethesdensis is highly resistant to oxygen-independent microbicides of myeloid cells, requires an intact NADPH oxidase for clearance, and can persist long-term in CGD mononuclear phagocytes, most likely relating to the persistence of this microorganism in infected CGD patients.

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