Expression and Bactericidal Activity of Nitric Oxide Synthase in Brucella suis-Infected Murine Macrophages


American Society for Microbiology


We examined the expression and activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in both gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-treated and untreated murine macrophages infected with the gram-negative bacterium Brucella suis. The bacteria were opsonized with a mouse serum containing specific antibrucella antibodies (ops-Brucella) or with a control nonimmune serum (c-Brucella). The involvement of the produced NO in the killing of intracellular B. suis was evaluated. B. suis survived and replicated within J774A.1 cells. Opsonization with specific antibodies increased the number of phagocytized bacteria but lowered their intramacrophage development. IFN-γ enhanced the antibrucella activity of phagocytes, with this effect being greater in ops-Brucella infection. Expression of iNOS, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) mRNAs was induced in both c-Brucella- and ops-Brucella-infected cells and was strongly potentiated by IFN-γ. In contrast to that of cytokine mRNAs, iNOS mRNA expression was independent of opsonization. Similar levels of iNOS mRNAs were expressed in IFN-γ-treated cells infected with c-Brucella or ops-Brucella; however, expression of iNOS protein and production of NO were detected only in IFN-γ-treated cells infected with ops-Brucella. These discrepencies between iNOS mRNA and protein levels were not due to differences in TNF-α production. The iNOS inhibitor Nω-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester increased B. suis multiplication specifically in IFN-γ-treated cells infected with ops-Brucella, demonstrating a microbicidal effect of the NO produced. This observation was in agreement with in vitro experiments showing that B. suis was sensitive to NO killing. Together our data indicate that in B. suis-infected murine macrophages, the posttranscriptional regulation of iNOS necessitates an additive signal triggered by macrophage Fcγ receptors. They also support the possibility that in mice, NO favors the elimination of Brucella, providing that IFN-γ and antibrucella antibodies are present, i.e., following expression of acquired immunity.

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