Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of tick-borne human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), is an intracellular bacterium which survives and multiplies inside polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes (PMN). Increased bacterial burden in gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-deficient mice suggested a major role of IFN-γ in the control of A. phagocytophilum. Here we investigated whether infection of human PMN with A. phagocytophilum impairs IFN-γ signaling thus facilitating intracellular survival of the bacterium. The secretion of the IFN-γ-inducible chemokines IP-10/CXCL10 and MIG/CXCL9 was markedly inhibited in infected neutrophils. Molecular analyses revealed that, compared to uninfected PMN, A. phagocytophilum decreased the expression of the IFN-γ receptor α-chain CD119, diminished the IFN-γ-induced phosphorylation of STAT1, and enhanced the expression of SOCS1 and SOCS3 in PMN. Since IFN-γ activates various antibacterial effector mechanisms of PMN, the impaired IFN-γ signaling in infected cells likely contributes to the survival of A. phagocytophilum inside PMN and to HGA disease development.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)