Staphylococcus aureus -Hemolysin Mediates Virulence in a Murine Model of Severe Pneumonia Through Activation of the NLRP3 Inflammasome

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 6). 03/2012; 205(5):807-17. DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jir846
Source: PubMed


Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous pathogen that can cause necrotizing infections characterized by massive inflammatory responses and tissue destruction. Staphylococcal α-hemolysin is an essential virulence factor in severe S. aureus pneumonia. It activates the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat containing gene family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome to induce production of interleukin-1β and programmed necrotic cell death. We sought to determine the role of α-hemolysin-mediated activation of NLRP3 in the pathogenesis of S. aureus pneumonia. We show that α-hemolysin activates the NLRP3 inflammasome during S. aureus pneumonia, inducing necrotic pulmonary injury. Moreover, Nlrp3(-/-) mice have less-severe pneumonia. Pulmonary injury induced by isolated α-hemolysin or live S. aureus is independent of interleukin-1β signaling, implicating NLRP3-induced necrosis in the pathogenesis of severe infection. This work demonstrates the exploitation of host inflammatory signaling by S. aureus and suggests the NLRP3 inflammasome as a potential target for pharmacologic interventions in severe S. aureus infections.

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