Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MRSA toxin acquitted: Study clears suspected key to severe bacterial illness

08.11.2006
Researchers who thought they had identified the bacterial perpetrator of the often severe disease caused by community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) had better keep looking: Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have exonerated a toxin widely thought to be the guilty party.

Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is one of many toxins associated with S. aureus infection. Because it can be found in virtually all CA-MRSA strains that cause soft-tissue infections, several research groups previously have proposed that PVL is the key virulence factor.

But new evidence strongly suggests that is not the case. A study led by NIAID researchers at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, MT, shows that the two major epidemic CA-MRSA strains and the same strains with PVL removed are equally effective at destroying human white blood cells--our primary defense against bacterial infections--and spreading disease. The findings, which appear online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, are surprising because many scientists had presumed that CA-MRSA uses PVL to target and kill specific white blood cells known as neutrophils.

"The Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is a growing global public health menace because of its rapid spread from hospital settings into communities of healthy people," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "This is an evolving pathogen that in recent decades has developed resistance to common medical treatments and now is finding new mechanisms to spread and cause severe illness."

About 75 percent of CA-MRSA infections are localized to skin and soft tissue and usually can be treated effectively. CA-MRSA strains have enhanced virulence, meaning they can infect otherwise healthy people. One of the biggest problems with CA-MRSA skin infections is that they spread rapidly and have the potential to cause illness much more severe than traditional hospital-associated MRSA infections, where PVL is less common. These life-threatening infections can affect vital organs and lead to widespread infection (sepsis), toxic shock syndrome and flesh-eating pneumonia. It is not known why some healthy people develop CA-MRSA skin infections that are treatable whereas others infected with the same strain develop severe infections or die.

Scientists had recognized a connection between MRSA strains that contain PVL and the increased occurrence and severity of CA-MRSA disease, though no one had directly tested the role of PVL in CA-MRSA virulence. In striving to learn more about CA-MRSA, the RML scientists, with their colleagues at the International Center for Public Health (ICPH) in Newark, NJ, and the Université Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, decided to test the PVL virulence theory, thinking that if they could understand the role of this toxin in disease, they could more quickly diagnose serious cases and develop effective treatments.

In addition to observing the destruction of human white blood cells regardless of whether PVL was present, the researchers also used mouse models to learn that CA-MRSA strains are just as pathogenic with or without PVL present. These findings were seen in tests with mice that displayed skin and soft-tissue infection and bacterial sepsis.

"The strains were just as deadly with or without the PVL toxin," says lead investigator Frank DeLeo, Ph.D., of RML. "Unexpectedly, the average abscess volume in mice infected with strains absent the PVL was slightly greater than those containing the toxin. The strong association between PVL and CA-MRSA makes the toxin an excellent marker to track community strains, but the assumption that it is the major virulence determinant driving this epidemic is simply not true."

These findings are significant because some infectious disease physicians who treat MRSA patients had begun questioning whether PVL truly led to severe illness, says Barry Kreiswirth, Ph.D., study co-author and a leading staphylococcal epidemiologist from ICPH in Newark. He adds, "We routinely receive calls from clinical microbiology laboratories asking to test for the presence of PVL, and it is hard to dissuade them that the PVL results will not affect patient care. Hopefully, the robust and contrary findings in our study provide the experimental evidence to convince the staphylococcal researchers and clinicians that PVL is not a significant virulence factor."

Next, Dr. DeLeo says his group will shift away from PVL and try to determine exactly which toxin or other mechanism in S. aureus kills white blood cells and allows the spread of CA-MRSA infection.

Ken Pekoc | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>