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Staphylococcal Alpha-Toxin Is a Strong Inducer of Interleukin-17 in Humans

Niebuhr, Margarete, Gathmann, Merle, Scharonow, Helena, Mamerow, Diana, Mommert, Susanne, Balaji, Hari, Werfel, Thomas
Infection and immunity 2011 v.79 no.4 pp. 1615-1622
CD4-positive T-lymphocytes, Staphylococcus aureus, atopic dermatitis, bacterial toxins, clones, correlation, eczema, humans, inflammation, interleukin-1, monocytes, patch test, patients, secretion
Patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) are frequently colonized with Staphylococcus aureus, with one-third of isolates producing alpha-toxin. Moreover, S. aureus colonization is positively correlated with the severity of eczema. Interleukin-17A (IL-17A) has gained attention in diseases associated with chronic skin infections. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of sublytic alpha-toxin concentrations on IL-17A production. Sublytic alpha-toxin concentrations strongly induced IL-17A in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), isolated CD4⁺ T cells, polarized Th17 cells, and Th17 clones from reactive atopy patch test lesions and blood from AD patients. Alpha-toxin induced IL-17A directly in T cells. The effect of alpha-toxin was further amplified by upregulation of IL-1 in monocytes. In conclusion, higher levels of IL-17A secretion induced by alpha-toxin in the skin partially explain how colonization with S. aureus can contribute to chronic skin inflammation.