Infection and immunity

Promotion of colonization and virulence by cholera toxin is dependent on neutrophils.

PMID 23798539


The innate immune response to Vibrio cholerae infection is poorly understood, but this knowledge is critical for the design of safe, effective vaccines. Using an adult mouse intestinal infection model, this study examines the contribution of neutrophils to host immunity, as well as the effect of cholera toxin and other secreted factors on this response. Depletion of neutrophils from mice with anti-Ly6G IA8 monoclonal antibody led to similar survival rates of mice infected with low or moderate doses of toxigenic V. cholerae El Tor O1. At a high dose, neutropenic mice showed increased rates of survival compared to neutrophil-replete animals. Expression of cholera toxin was found to be protective to the neutropenic host, and this phenotype can be replicated by the administration of purified toxin. Neutrophils do not effectively clear colonizing bacteria from the small intestine, nor do they alter induction of early immune-modulating signals. In both neutropenic and neutrophil-replete animals, the local response to infection is characterized by expression of interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-10, and macrophage inflammatory protein 2 alpha (MIP-2). Overall, these data indicate that the innate immune response to toxigenic V. cholerae infection differs dramatically from the host response to nontoxigenic infection or vaccination, where neutrophils are protective to the host. In the absence of neutrophils, cholera toxin induces immunomodulatory effects that increase host survival. In cholera toxin-producing strains, similar to nontoxigenic infection, accessory toxins are critical to virulence, indicating that cholera toxin and the other secreted toxins modulate the host response by different mechanisms, with both contributing to bacterial persistence and virulence.