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Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus, GAS) bacteria cause a spectrum of human diseases ranging from self-limiting pharyngitis and mild, uncomplicated skin infections (impetigo, erysipelas, and cellulitis) to highly morbid and rapidly invasive, life-threatening infections such as streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis (NF). HLA class II allelic polymorphisms are linked with differential outcomes and severity of GAS infections. The dysregulated immune response and peripheral cytokine storm elicited due to invasive GAS infections increase the risk for toxic shock and multiple organ failure in genetically susceptible individuals. We hypothesized that, while the host immune mediators regulate the immune responses against peripheral GAS infections, these interactions may simultaneously trigger neuropathology and, in some cases, induce persistent alterations in the glial phenotypes. Here, we studied the consequences of peripheral GAS skin infection on the brain in an HLA-II transgenic mouse model of GAS NF with and without treatment with an antibiotic, clindamycin (CLN). Mice expressing the human HLA-II DR3 (DR3) or the HLA-II DR4 (DR4) allele were divided into three groups: (i) uninfected controls, (ii) subcutaneously infected with a clinical GAS strain isolated from a patient with GAS NF, and (iii) GAS-infected with CLN treatment (10 mg/kg/5 days, intraperitoneal). The groups were monitored for 15 days post-infection. Skin GAS burden and lesion area, splenic and hippocampal mRNA levels of inflammatory markers, and immunohistochemical changes in hippocampal GFAP and Iba-1 immunoreactivity were assessed. Skin GAS burden and hippocampal mRNA levels of the inflammatory markers S100A8/A9, IL-1β, IL-33, inflammasome-related caspase-1 (Casp1), and NLRP6 were elevated in infected DR3 but not DR4 mice. The levels of these markers were significantly reduced following CLN treatment in DR3 mice. Although GAS was not detectable in the brain, astrocyte (GFAP) and microglia (Iba-1) activation were evident from increased GFAP and Iba-1 mRNA levels in DR3 and DR4 mice. However, CLN treatment significantly reduced GFAP mRNA levels in DR3 mice, not DR4 mice. Our data suggest a skin–brain axis during GAS NF, demonstrating that peripherally induced pathological conditions regulate neuroimmune changes and gliotic events in the brain






First published in Pathogens:

Ambigapathy, G.; Mukundan, S.; Nagamoto-Combs, K.; Combs, C.K.; Nookala, S. HLA-II-Dependent Neuroimmune Changes in Group A Streptococcal Necrotizing Fasciitis. Pathogens 2023, 12, 1000. pathogens12081000


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.