Investigating intracellular persistence of Staphylococcus aureus within a murine alveolar macrophage cell line

A Lacoma, V Cano, D Moranta, V Regueiro, D Domínguez-Villanueva, M Laabei, M González-Nicolau, V Ausina, C Prat, J A Bengoechea

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48 Citations (SciVal)


OBJECTIVE: Staphylococcus aureus is a particularly difficult pathogen to eradicate from the respiratory tract. Previous studies have highlighted the intracellular capacity of S.aureus in several phagocytic and non-phagocytic cells. The aim of this study was to define S.aureus interaction within a murine alveolar macrophage cell line.

METHODS: Cell line MH-S was infected with Newman strain. Molecular mechanisms involved in phagocytosis were explored. To assess whether S.aureus survives intracellularly quantitative (gentamicin protection assays and bacterial plating) and qualitative analysis (immunofluorescence microscopy) were performed. Bacterial colocalization with different markers of the endocytic pathway was examined to characterize its intracellular trafficking.

RESULTS: We found that S.aureus uptake requires host actin polymerization, microtubule assembly and activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling. Time course experiments showed that Newman strain was able to persist within macrophages at least until 28.5 h post infection. We observed that intracellular bacteria are located inside an acidic subcellular compartment, which co-localizes with the late endosome/lysosome markers Lamp-1, Rab7 and RILP. Colocalization counts with TMR-dextran might reflect a balance between bacterial killing and intracellular survival.

CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that S.aureus persists and replicates inside murine alveolar macrophages, representing a privileged niche that can potentially offer protection from antimicrobial activity and immunological host defense mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1775
Number of pages15
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2017


  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Macrophages, Alveolar/immunology
  • Mice
  • Microbial Viability
  • Phagocytosis
  • Staphylococcal Infections/immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus/genetics


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