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The Staphylococcus aureus Alpha-Toxin Perturbs the Barrier Function in Caco-2 Epithelial Cell Monolayers by Altering Junctional Integrity
Karolinska Institute.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Medical Microbiology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Medical Microbiology. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
AlbaNova University of Centre.
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2012 (English)In: Infection and Immunity, ISSN 0019-9567, E-ISSN 1098-5522, Vol. 80, no 5, 1670-1680 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Increased microvascular permeability is a hallmark of sepsis and septic shock. Intestinal mucosal dysfunction may allow translocation of bacteria and their products, thereby promoting sepsis and inflammation. Although Staphylococcus aureus alpha-toxin significantly contributes to sepsis and perturbs the endothelial barrier function, little is known about possible effects of S. aureus alpha-toxin on human epithelial barrier functions. We hypothesize that S. aureus alpha-toxin in the blood can impair the intestinal epithelial barrier and thereby facilitate the translocation of luminal bacteria into the blood, which may in turn aggravate a septic condition. Here, we showed that staphylococcal alpha-toxin disrupts the barrier integrity of human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells as evidenced by decreased transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and reduced cellular levels of junctional proteins, such as ZO-1, ZO-3, and E-cadherin. The Caco-2 cells also responded to alpha-toxin with an elevated cytosolic calcium ion concentration ([Ca2+](i)), elicited primarily by calcium influx from the extracellular environment, as well as with a significant reduction in TER, which was modulated by intracellular calcium chelation. Moreover, a significantly larger reduction in TER and amounts of the junctional proteins, viz., ZO-3 and occludin, was achieved by basolateral than by apical application of the alpha-toxin. These experimental findings thus support the hypothesis that free staphylococcal alpha-toxin in the bloodstream may cause intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction and further aggravate the septic condition by promoting the release of intestinal bacteria into the underlying tissues and the blood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Society for Microbiology , 2012. Vol. 80, no 5, 1670-1680 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-77532DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00001-12ISI: 000302791100006OAI: diva2:528602
Funding Agencies|Swedish Research Council|2007-34832009-66492010-3045|Karolinska Institutet||Available from: 2012-05-28 Created: 2012-05-22 Last updated: 2012-05-28

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Vikström, ElenaMagnusson, Karl-Eric
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