Human infections with nontyphoidal Salmonella serotypes, such as S. enterica serotype Typhimurium, are characterized by a massive neutrophil influx in the colon and terminal ileum. In contrast, neutrophils are scarce in intestinal infiltrates of typhoid fever patients. Here, we show that in S. enterica serotype Typhi, the causative agent of typhoid fever, expression of the Vi capsular antigen reduced expression of the neutrophil chemoattractant interleukin-8 (IL-8) in host cells. Capsulated bacteria elicited IL-8 expression in polarized human epithelial cells (T84) and human macrophage-like cells (THP-1) in vitro at significantly reduced levels compared to noncapsulated bacteria. Experiments with a human cell line (HEK293) transfected with human Toll-like receptors (TLRs) demonstrated that in the presence of TLR5 or TLR4/MD2/CD14, a noncapsulated serotype Typhi mutant was able to induce the expression of IL-8, while this host response was significantly reduced when cells were infected with the capsulated serotype Typhi wild type. The relevance of these in vitro observations for the interaction of serotype Typhi with its human host was further studied ex vivo using human colonic tissue explants. Expression of IL-8 was detected in human colonic tissue explants infected with serotype Typhimurium or a noncapsulated serotype Typhi mutant. In contrast, infection with the serotype Typhi wild type did not elicit IL-8 expression in colonic tissue explants. Collectively, these data suggest that the scarcity of neutrophils in intestinal infiltrates of typhoid fever patients is due to a capsule-mediated reduction of TLR-dependent IL-8 production in the intestinal mucosa.
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