Thore M, Lofgren S, Tarnvik A, Monsen T, Selstam E, Burman LG
Anaerobic phagocytosis, killing, and degradation of Streptococcus pneumoniae by human peripheral blood leukocytes
Infect Immun: 1985 47:277-281
Encapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae of serotypes 2, 9N, 14, 21, and 23F and an unencapsulated variant of type 2 pneumococci were efficiently phagocytosed by both aerobically and anaerobically incubated human leukocytes. In the presence of O2, the pneumococci rapidly lost their viability, whereas during anaerobiosis, killing was considerably delayed. Type 14 pneumococci radiolabeled with [14C]choline or [14C]ethanolamine for cell wall teichoic acid, [14C]uracil for nucleic acids, or [14C]arachidonic acid for unsaturated cytoplasmic membrane lipids were used in studies of the fate of bacterial macromolecules after phagocytosis. The degradation of teichoic acid, RNA, and DNA during anaerobiosis approached that recorded in air at 60 min of incubation (45 to 70% and 55 to 75%, respectively). In contrast, the marked loss of [14C]arachidonic acid from pneumococcal membrane lipids observed in aerobic leukocytes did not occur during anaerobic incubation. Hence, lipid peroxidation could be involved in the rapid aerobic leukocyte killing of pneumococci, whereas a different leukocyte function of as yet unknown nature appears to be responsible for the killing seen in anaerobiosis. Autolysis-resistant type 14 pneumococci were obtained by substituting ethanolamine for choline in a defined culture medium. Differences between such bacteria and normal (autolytic) pneumococci in their killing and degradation by leukocytes were not detected in either the presence or the absence of O2. The aerobic and anaerobic handling of phagocytosed pneumococci by human blood leukocytes thus proceeded independently of the bacterial autolytic system.