Intranasal exposure to bacterial superantigens induces airway inflammation in HLA class II transgenic mice

Govindarajan Rajagopalan, Koji Iijima, Manisha Singh, Hirohito Kita, Robin Patel, Chella S. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus is widely prevalent in the nasopharynges of healthy individuals (carriers) but can also cause serious infections. S. aureus can elaborate a variety of superantigen exotoxins in "carrier" or "pathogenic" states. Streptococcus pyogenes can also colonize the nasopharynx and elaborate superantigens. Unlike the acute effects of superantigen exotoxins absorbed through the gut or vaginal mucosa, little is known regarding the pathogenesis of superantigens entering through the intranasal route. In the current study, we evaluated the local and systemic effects of staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) and streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin A (SPEA) delivered through the intranasal route. Superantigens were administered intranasally on multiple occasions, and experimental animals were sacrificed on day 8 for experimental analyses. SEB-induced airway inflammation was more pronounced for HLA-DR3 transgenic mice than for BALB/c mice, consistent with bacterial superantigens binding more efficiently to human than murine major histocompatibility complex class II. The nature of the airway inflammation in HLA-DR3 mice was determined by the concentration of SEB applied intranasally. Low concentrations (20 ng) induced eosinophilic airway inflammation as well as eosinophil degranulation, whereas intranasal exposure to higher concentrations (2,000 ng) resulted in neutrophilic airway inflammation, permanent airway destruction, toxic shock, and mortality. SEB-induced eosinophilic inflammatory response was enhanced in signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-4-deficient HLA-DQS transgenic mice with defective interleukin-12 signaling. Intranasal administration of SPEA induced airway inflammation and systemic immune activation in HLA-DQ8 transgenic mice. In conclusion, repeated chronic intranasal exposure to bacterial superantigens causes airway inflammation and systemic immune activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1284-1296
Number of pages13
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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