Protection from Lethal Gram-Positive Infection by Macrophage Scavenger Receptor–Dependent Phagocytosis

Thomas, Christian A.; Li, Yongmei; Kodama, Tatsuhiko; Suzuki, Hiroshi; Silverstein, Samuel C.; El Khoury, Joseph

Infections with gram-positive bacteria are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in humans. Opsonin-dependent phagocytosis plays a major role in protection against and recovery from gram-positive infections. Inborn and acquired defects in opsonin generation and/or recognition by phagocytes are associated with an increased susceptibility to bacterial infections. In contrast, the physiological significance of opsonin-independent phagocytosis is unknown. Type I and II class A scavenger receptors (SR-AI/II) recognize a variety of polyanions including bacterial cell wall products such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and lipoteichoic acid (LTA), suggesting a role for SR-AI/II in innate immunity to bacterial infections. Here, we show that SR-AI/II–deficient mice (MSR-A−/−) are more susceptible to intraperitoneal infection with a prototypic gram-positive pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, than MSR-A+/+ control mice. MSR-A−/− mice display an impaired ability to clear bacteria from the site of infection despite normal killing of S. aureus by neutrophils and die as a result of disseminated infection. Opsonin-independent phagocytosis of gram-positive bacteria by MSR-A−/− macrophages is significantly decreased although their phagocytic machinery is intact. Peritoneal macrophages from control mice phagocytose a variety of gram-positive bacteria in an SR-AI/II–dependent manner. Our findings demonstrate that SR-AI/II mediate opsonin-independent phagocytosis of gram-positive bacteria, and provide the first evidence that opsonin-independent phagocytosis plays a critical role in host defense against bacterial infections in vivo.


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Also Published In

Journal of Experimental Medicine

More About This Work

Academic Units
Physiology and Cellular Biophysics
The Rockefeller University Press
Published Here
January 12, 2016