Are free radicals responsible for endothelial cell killing of Staphylococcus aureus?

Bin Zhang, Michelle Centra, Guan Liang Cao, Roman E. Ratych, Joseph B. Domachowske, Harry L. Malech, Gerald M. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We have recently demonstrated that endothelial cells cultured on Gelfoam blocks, but not monolayer matrices can phagocytose and kill Staphyloccus aureus. Experiments determined that penicillin G, included in the endothelial cell growth medium, induces these cells to exhibit the observed bactericidal activity. In this communication, we report on studies aimed at elucidating the mechanism by which penicillin G-induced endothelial cells, cultured on Gelfoam blocks, kill S. aureus. Despite the fact that there is a substantial literature that demonstrates neutrophilic killing of bacteria can be mediated through free radical-dependent and free radical-independent mechanisms, considerably less is known about pathways by which endothelial cells can catalyze similar microbicidal activities. Studies described herein point to the fact that superoxide and products derived from this free radical were not responsible for endothelial killing of S. aureus. Likewise, a possible role for nitric oxide in bacterial killing was explored. As part of this inquiry, we stably transduced a NOS-2 encoding retrovirus into endothelial cells cultured on Gelfoam blocks in the absence of penicillin G. Even though these cells secreted nitric oxide at a rate of 0.5 μM/h per 1 x 106 cells, similar to what has been reported for murine macrophages induced with γ- interferon, in our model, nitric oxide was not found to kill S. aureus. Data presented demonstrate that the microbicidal activity of endothelial cells is mediated through free radical-independent pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelial Cells
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Superoxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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