Bordetella pertussis causes whooping cough, an endemic respiratory disease that is increasing in prevalence despite vaccination efforts. Although host immunity is modulated by virulence factors of this pathogen, it is unclear what host factors are required to overcome their effects. Here, we investigate an apparent relationship between the effects of pertussis toxin and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. B. pertussis grew efficiently and caused moderate pathology in wild-type mice, whereas TNF-α-/- mice had higher numbers of bacteria and leukocytes in lungs, experienced more airway resistance, and died of the infection. Interestingly, an isogenic B. pertussis strain lacking pertussis toxin did not induce these effects in TNF-α -/- mice and behaved similarly in wild-type and TNF-α-deficient hosts. Together, these results indicate that TNF-α is essential for the host to overcome the effects of pertussis toxin, allowing both control of B. pertussis numbers and regulation of the inflammation induced by infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases