IL-10 production by granulocytes promotes Staphylococcus aureus craniotomy infection

Gunjan Kak, Zachary Van Roy, Cortney E. Heim, Rachel W. Fallet, Wen Shi, Axel Roers, Bin Duan, Tammy Kielian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Treatment of brain tumors, epilepsy, or hemodynamic abnormalities requires a craniotomy to access the brain. Nearly 1 million craniotomies are performed in the US annually, which increase to ~ 14 million worldwide and despite prophylaxis, infectious complications after craniotomy range from 1 to 3%. Approximately half are caused by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which forms a biofilm on the bone flap that is recalcitrant to antibiotics and immune-mediated clearance. However, the mechanisms responsible for the persistence of craniotomy infection remain largely unknown. The current study examined the role of IL-10 in promoting bacterial survival. Methods: A mouse model of S. aureus craniotomy infection was used with wild type (WT), IL-10 knockout (KO), and IL-10 conditional KO mice where IL-10 was absent in microglia and monocytes/macrophages (CX3CR1 Cre IL-10 fl/fl) or neutrophils and granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (G-MDSCs; Mrp8 Cre IL-10 fl/fl), the major immune cell populations in the infected brain vs. subcutaneous galea, respectively. Mice were examined at various intervals post-infection to quantify bacterial burden, leukocyte recruitment, and inflammatory mediator production in the brain and galea to assess the role of IL-10 in craniotomy persistence. In addition, the role of G-MDSC-derived IL-10 on neutrophil activity was examined. Results: Granulocytes (neutrophils and G-MDSCs) were the major producers of IL-10 during craniotomy infection. Bacterial burden was significantly reduced in IL-10 KO mice in the brain and galea at day 14 post-infection compared to WT animals, concomitant with increased CD4+ and γδ T cell recruitment and cytokine/chemokine production, indicative of a heightened proinflammatory response. S. aureus burden was reduced in Mrp8 Cre IL-10 fl/fl but not CX3CR1 Cre IL-10 fl/fl mice that was reversed following treatment with exogenous IL-10, suggesting that granulocyte-derived IL-10 was important for promoting S. aureus craniotomy infection. This was likely due, in part, to IL-10 production by G-MDSCs that inhibited neutrophil bactericidal activity and TNF production. Conclusion: Collectively, these findings reveal a novel role for granulocyte-derived IL-10 in suppressing S. aureus clearance during craniotomy infection, which is one mechanism to account for biofilm persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Craniotomy infection
  • Granulocytes
  • Interleukin-10
  • Microglia
  • S. aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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