Interactions between blood-borne Streptococcus pneumoniae and the blood-brain barrier preceding meningitis.

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Interactions between blood-borne Streptococcus pneumoniae and the blood-brain barrier preceding meningitis.

PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e68408

Authors: Iovino F, Orihuela CJ, Moorlag HE, Molema G, Bijlsma JJ

Abstract
Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is a Gram-positive bacterium and the predominant cause of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is thought to occur as the result of pneumococci crossing the blood-brain barrier to invade the Central Nervous System (CNS); yet little is known about the steps preceding immediate disease development. To study the interactions between pneumococci and the vascular endothelium of the blood-brain barrier prior to meningitis we used an established bacteremia-derived meningitis model in combination with immunofluorescent imaging. Brain tissue of mice infected with S. pneumoniae strain TIGR4, a clinical meningitis isolate, was investigated for the location of the bacteria in relation to the brain vasculature in various compartments. We observed that S. pneumoniae adhered preferentially to the subarachnoid vessels, and subsequently, over time, reached the more internal cerebral areas including the cerebral cortex, septum, and choroid plexus. Interestingly, pneumococci were not detected in the choroid plexus till 8 hours-post infection. In contrast to the lungs, little to no leukocyte recruitment to the brain was observed over time, though Iba-1 and GFAP staining showed that microglia and astrocytes were activated as soon as 1 hour post-infection. Our results imply that i) the local immune system of the brain is activated immediately upon entry of bacteria into the bloodstream and that ii) adhesion to the blood brain barrier is spatiotemporally controlled at different sites throughout the brain. These results provide new information on these two important steps towards the development of pneumococcal meningitis.

PMID: 23874613 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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