Characterisation of the host inflammatory response to Staphylococcus epidermidis in neonatal whole blood

C. Härtel*, I. Osthues, J. Rupp, B. Haase, K. Röder, W. Göpel, E. Herting, C. Schultz

*Corresponding author for this work
33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) are the most prevalent pathogens causing late-onset sepsis, and gestational age is the most important risk factor for these infections. Objective: To characterise innate immune responses to S epidermidis by assessment of whole blood in vitro cytokine production in a large group of preterm and term infants. Results: The S epidermidis-induced in vitro production of proinflammatory cytokines such as intracytoplasmic interleukin (IL) 6 and tumour necrosis factor α in cord blood samples was found to be dependent on gestational age (R = 0.279, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.44, p = 0.002; R = 0.251, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.41, p = 0.005, respectively; n = 121). In contrast, the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL10 and transforming growth factor β was not associated with gestational age. When different stimulation strategies were compared, a strong correlation was noted for cytokine responses after lipopolysaccharide and 5 epidermidis exposure - that is, IL6 (R = 0.431, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.55, p<0.001, n = 161) and IL10 (R = 0.332, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.47, p<0.001, n = 161). In addition, a lower IL6 production was found in supematants of whole blood cultures infected with a clinically isolated IcaABD-positive (biofilm production) strain compared with a control IcaABD-negative ATCC strain (p = 0.009). Conclusions: These in vitro data suggest that proinflammatory responses to S epidermidis are dependent on gestational age in preterm infants, whereas the counter-acting anti-inflammatory response to S epidermidis may not be directly related to gestational age. Individual host factors may have a role as well as bacterial determinants, such as biofilm production. Further studies are encouraged to investigate the different aspects of innate immune responses to CoNS in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2008

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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