Bacterial pathogens modulate an apoptosis differentiation program in human neutrophils

Scott D. Kobayashi, Kevin R. Braughton, Adeline R. Whitney, Jovanka M. Voyich, Tom G. Schwan, James M. Musser, Frank R. DeLeo

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278 Scopus citations


Human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs or neutrophils) are essential to the innate immune response against bacterial pathogens. Recent evidence suggests that PMN apoptosis facilitates resolution of inflammation during bacterial infection. Although progress has been made toward understanding apoptosis in neutrophils, very little is known about transcriptional regulation of this process during bacterial infection. To gain insight into the molecular processes that facilitate resolution of infection, we measured global changes in PMN gene expression during phagocytosis of a diverse group of bacterial pathogens. Genes encoding key effectors of apoptosis were up-regulated, and receptors critical to innate immune function were down-regulated during apoptosis induced by phagocytosis of Burkholderia cepacia, Borrelia hermsii, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Importantly, we identified genes that comprise a common apoptosis differentiation program in human PMNs after phagocytosis of pathogenic bacteria. Unexpectedly, phagocytosis of Str. pyogenes induced changes in neutrophil gene expression not observed with other pathogens tested, including down-regulation of 21 genes involved in responses to IFN. Compared with other bacteria, PMN apoptosis was significantly accelerated by Str. pyogenes and was followed by necrosis. Thus, we hypothesize that there are two fundamental outcomes for the interaction of bacterial pathogens with neutrophils: (i) phagocytosis of bacteria induces an apoptosis differentiation program in human PMNs that contributes to resolution of bacterial infection, or (ii) phagocytosis of microorganisms such as Str. pyogenes alters the apoptosis differentiation program in neutrophils, resulting in pathogen survival and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10948-10953
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - Sep 16 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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