Virulence. 2017 Jun 12:0. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2017.1341021. [Epub ahead of print]

Mucin 1 protects against severe Streptococcus pneumoniae infection.

Dhar P1,2, Ng GZ1,2, Dunne EM1, Sutton P1,2,3.

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Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterial pathogen that commonly resides in the human nasopharynx, typically without causing any disease. However, in some cases these bacteria migrate from the nasopharynx to other sites of the body such as the lungs and bloodstream causing pneumonia and sepsis, respectively. This study used a mouse model of infection to investigate the potential role of Mucin 1 (MUC1), a cell membrane-associated glycoprotein known for playing a key barrier role at mucosal surfaces, in regulating this process. Wildtype (WT) and MUC1-deficient (Muc1-/-) mice were infected intranasally with an invasive strain of S. pneumoniae and bacterial loads in the nasopharynx, lungs, and blood were analyzed. Lungs were graded histologically for inflammation and cytokine profiles in the lungs analyzed by ELISA. While there was no difference in pneumococcal colonization of the nasopharynx between WT and Muc1-/- mice, infected Muc1-/- mice showed high pneumococcal loads in their lungs 16 hours post-infection, as well as bacteremia. In contrast, infected WT mice cleared the pneumococci from their lungs and remained asymptomatic. Infection in Muc1-/- mice was associated with an elevation in lung inflammation, with cellular recruitment especially of monocytes/macrophages. While MUC1-deficiency has been shown to increase phagocytosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, macrophages from Muc1-/- mice exhibited a reduced capacity to phagocytose S. pneumoniae indicating diverse and bacterial-specific effects. In conclusion, these findings indicate that MUC1 plays an important role in protection against severe pneumococcal disease, potentially mediated by facilitating macrophage phagocytosis.


Muc1; Streptococcus pneumoniae; bacteremia; inflammation; macrophages; phagocytosis

PMID: 28605238 DOI: 10.1080/21505594.2017.1341021