Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin (Spe) A expression is epidemiologically linked to streptococcal tonsillo-pharyngitis and outbreaks of scarlet fever, although the mechanisms by which superantigens confer advantage to Streptococcus pyogenes are unclear. S. pyogenes is an exclusively human pathogen. As the leucocyte profile of tonsil is unique, the impact of SpeA production on human tonsil cell function was investigated. Human tonsil cells from routine tonsillectomy were co-incubated with purified streptococcal superantigens or culture supernatants from isogenic streptococcal isolates, differing only in superantigen production. Tonsil cell proliferation was quantified by tritiated thymidine incorporation, and cell surface characteristics assessed by flow cytometry. Soluble mediators including immunoglobulin were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Tonsil T cells proliferated in response to SpeA and demonstrated typical release of proinflammatory cytokines. When cultured in the absence of superantigen, tonsil preparations released large quantities of immunoglobulin over 7 days. In contrast, marked B cell apoptosis and abrogation of total immunoglobulin (Ig)A, IgM, and IgG production occurred in the presence of SpeA and other superantigens. In SpeA-stimulated cultures, T follicular helper (Tfh) cells showed a reduction in C-X-C chemokine receptor (CXCR)5 (CD185) expression, but up-regulation of OX40 (CD134) and inducible T cell co-stimulator (ICOS) (CD278) expression. The phenotypical change in the Tfh population was associated with impaired chemotactic response to CXCL13. SpeA and other superantigens cause dysregulated tonsil immune function, driving T cells from Tfh to a proliferating phenotype, with resultant loss of B cells and immunoglobulin production, providing superantigen-producing bacteria with a probable survival advantage.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Clinical and Experimental Immunology|
|Publication status||Published - 24 Jun 2019|