Protease cleavage of iron-transferrin augments pyocyanin-mediated endothelial cell injury via promotion of hydroxyl radical formation

Rachel A. Miller, George T. Rasmussen, Charles D. Cox, Bradley E. Britigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Although a number of bacterium- and host-derived factors have been suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa- associated tissue injury, the mechanism remains unclear. We have previously shown that protease modification of iron (Fe)-transferrin generates new iron chelates capable of catalyzing hydroxyl radical (·OH) formation from superoxide and hydrogen peroxide. The latter two oxidants are generated during redux cycling of another P. aeruginosa secretory product, pyocyanin. The lung is a major site of P. aeruginosa infection, with damage to local endothelial cells contributing to the pathogenesis of such infections. Endothelial cells are highly susceptible to oxidant-mediated injury. Therefore, we examined whether pseudomonas elastase-cleaved Fe-transferrin and pyncyanin synergistically enhance pulmonary artery endothelial cell injury via ·OH formation. By measuring 51Cr release from cultured endothelial cell monolayers, pseudomonas elastase-cleaved Fe-transferrin significantly augmented cell injury resulting from cellular exposure to sublethal concentrations of pyocyanin. This enhancement in injury was not protease specific, as similar results were obtained with pyocyanin in combination with trypsin- or porcine pancreatic elastase-cleaved Fe- transferrin. The association of iron with the transferrin appeared to be necessary in this process. Supporting the involvement of ·OH generation via the Haber-Weiss reaction in augmenting cell injury, catalase, dimethyl thiourea, superoxide dismutase, deferoxamine, and dimethyl sulfoxide significantly inhibited cell injury resulting from exposure to pyocyanin and protease-cleaved Fe-transferrin. Furthermore, spin trapping demonstrated the production of ·OH in this cellular system. We conclude that ·OH formation resulting from the interaction of protease-cleaved Fe-transferrin and endothelial cell redox cycling of pyocyanin may contribute to P. aeruginosa- associated tissue injury via endothelial cell injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-188
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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