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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Studies on the mechanism of T cell inhibition by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa phenazine pigment pyocyanine.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its products have been shown to inhibit mitogen-induced human lymphocyte blastogenesis as measured by [3H]TdR uptake. The phenazine pigment pyocyanine has been identified as one of the inhibitors present in cellfree culture supernatants. To determine the mechanism of the inhibitory action of pyocyanine, we studied its effect on the early stages of T cell activation. Pyocyanine inhibited lymphocyte stimulation induced by specific antigens, the lectin concanavalin A and the calcium ionophore, ionomycin, suggesting that its inhibitory effect is not dependent on interference with the T cell antigen receptor complex itself. Using quin-2, we showed that pyocyanine did not interfere with the mitogen-induced increase in cytosolic-free Ca2+. We also showed that pyocyanine did not interfere with the function of calmodulin stimulated Ca2+-Mg2+ ATPase activity, indicating that the mechanism of action of pyocyanine differs from that of the structurally related phenothiazine compounds. Analysis of IL 2 production and IL 2 receptor expression clearly showed that pyocyanine inhibits the production of this essential lymphokine as well as the expression of IL 2 receptors on the T cell membrane. This inhibition is dose dependent and not due to cellular toxicity. There was parallel inhibition of growth in cell volume as well as [3H]TdR uptake. Thus, our results demonstrate that pyocyanine inhibits T cell proliferation by decreasing the production of the critical lymphokine IL 2 and by decreasing the expression of the IL 2 receptor. Local suppression of lymphocyte stimulation by phenazine pigments such as pyocyanine may interfere with cellular immune responses that may be necessary for eradication of chronic infection with P. aeruginosa.[1]


  1. Studies on the mechanism of T cell inhibition by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa phenazine pigment pyocyanine. Nutman, J., Berger, M., Chase, P.A., Dearborn, D.G., Miller, K.M., Waller, R.L., Sorensen, R.U. J. Immunol. (1987) [Pubmed]
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