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Receptor-Dependent and -Independent Immunomodulatory Effects of Phenol-Soluble Modulin Peptides from Staphylococcus aureus on Human Neutrophils Are Abrogated through Peptide Inactivation by Reactive Oxygen Species

Journal article
Authors Huamei Forsman
Karin Christenson
Johan Bylund
Claes Dahlgren
Published in Infection and Immunity
Volume 80
Issue 6
Pages 1987-1995
ISSN 0019-9567
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Pages 1987-1995
Language en
Keywords stimulated human-neutrophils, nadph-oxidase, oxidative inactivation, methicillin-resistant, proinflammatory activity, virulence determinants, myeloperoxidase system, helicobacter-pylori, radical production, respiratory burst
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


The virulence and pathogenesis mechanisms of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) strains depend on a newly described group of phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) peptides (the PSM alpha peptides) with cytolytic activity. These toxins are alpha-helical peptides with a formyl group at the N terminus, and they activate neutrophils through formyl peptide receptor 2 (FPR2), a function closely correlated to the capacity of staphylococcal species to cause invasive infections. The effects of two synthetic PSM alpha peptides were investigated, and we show that they utilize FPR2 and promote neutrophils to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which in turn trigger inactivation of the peptides. Independently of FPR2, the PSM alpha peptides also downregulate the neutrophil response to other stimuli and exert a cytolytic effect to which apoptotic neutrophils are more sensitive than viable cells. The novel immunomodulatory functions of the PSM alpha peptides were sensitive to ROS generated by the neutrophil myeloperoxidase (MPO)-H2O2 system, suggesting a role for this enzyme system in counteracting bacterial virulence.

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