Neutrophil transendothelial migration in vitro to Streptococcus pneumoniae is pneumolysin dependent

Jessica G. Moreland, Gail Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The recruitment of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) from the vascular space to the alveolar air space is an early event in host defense against pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumolysin is a virulence factor for Streptococcus pneumoniae, but a specific role for pneumolysin in neutrophil-endothelial cell interactions has not been investigated. Using a Transwell system, we studied in vitro migration of PMNs across a monolayer of human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells in response to wild-type S. pneumoniae (D39) and a pneumolysin-deficient mutant (plnA-) incubated on the abluminal surface of the monolayer. S. pneumoniae induction of PMN migration was dose dependent and elicited by ≥105 D39. Mutants lacking pneumolysin had dramatically reduced potency for eliciting PMN migration compared with the parent strain (5 × 106 plnA- elicits 18.6% PMN migration vs. 55.5% for 5 × 106 D39). The disparity between D39 and plnA- persisted in ethanol-fixed bacteria, consistent with the properties of pneumolysin. Neither conditioned medium from D39 nor purified pneumolysin elicited PMN migration to the same extent as the intact D39, suggesting that the role of pneumolysin in eliciting PMN migration requires a more complex interaction between the organism, the endothelium, and the PMN. Both D39 and plnA- adhered to, and translocated across, the endothelium in the abluminal to luminal direction and elicited similar levels of IL-8 production. Neither strain elicited upregulation of the endothelial adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, or E-selectin, and they did not cause translocation of NF-κB to the nucleus. These findings demonstrate a novel role for pneumolysin in pneumococcus-induced PMN recruitment across the pulmonary endothelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L833-L840
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Endothelial cells
  • Inflammation
  • Pneumonia
  • Virulence factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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