2000 Volume 44 Issue 12 Pages 987-995
Salmonella species represent a leading cause of gastroenteritis worldwide. More recently, they have been proposed as putative vaccine delivery vehicles in humans. Oral infection with Salmonella leads to invasion of the intestinal epithelial barrier and subsequent interaction with mucosal macrophages. In this study, we investigated the fate of Salmonella typhimurium-infected human macrophages differentiated from blood monocytes by GM-CSF. Wild type S. typhimurium strain SL1344 induced macrophage surface blebbing and caused the release of host cytoplasmic lactate dehydrogenase beginning 30min post-infection. Three hours later more than 80% of the macrophages in the culture were killed. In contrast, during the same period, macrophages infected with the non-invasive S. typhimurium strain BJ66 remained viable. Chromatin fragmentation is a hallmark of cells undergoing apoptosis. Using TUNEL analysis, we observed chromatin fragmentation in macrophages infected with SL1344 but not in BJ66 infected cells. Consistent with this observation, we found that pretreatment of human macrophages with an inhibitor of caspase-3, a member of the pro-apoptotic enzyme family shown to be involved in S. typhimurium-induced killing of mouse macrophages, reduced SL1344-mediated cytotoxicity by 40%. Our study provides the first evidence that invasive S. typhimurium induces apoptosis in human macrophages that were differentiated from blood monocytes by GM-CSF, and that cell death is a caspase-dependent phenomenon.