The obligatory intracellular bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae) can survive and multiply in neutrophil granulocytes. Since neutrophils are short living cells, inhibition of neutrophil apoptosis appears to play a major role in the productive infection of neutrophils by C. pneumoniae. In the present study, we have investigated which survival pathways and which events of the apoptotic process are modulated in C. pneumoniae-infected neutrophils. All infection experiments were carried out using primary human neutrophils in vitro. We show that infection with C. pneumoniae activates PI3K/Akt as well as the ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinases and present evidence that activation of the PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 pathways are essential to initiate the apoptosis delay in C. pneumoniae-infected neutrophils. Both the PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 pathways are involved in the maintained expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1. In addition, we also showed that the PI3K/Akt pathway leads to the activation of NF-κB-dependent release of IL-8 by infected neutrophils. Infection with C. pneumoniae activates the PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 MAPK survival pathways in neutrophils, induces the NF-κB dependent release of IL-8 and leads to the maintenance of Mcl-1 expression in neutrophils.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)