Burkholderia pseudomallei interferes with inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) production: a possible mechanism of evading macrophage killing

Microbiol Immunol. 2001;45(4):307-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.2001.tb02623.x.


Burkholderia pseudomallei is a causative agent of melioidosis, a life threatening disease which affects humans and animals in tropical and subtropical areas. This bacterium is known to survive and multiply inside cells such as macrophages. The mechanism of host defense against this bacterium is still unknown. In this study, we demonstrated that B. pseudomallei exhibited unique macrophage activation activity compared with Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhi. The mouse macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7) infected with B. pseudomallei at MOI of 0.1:1, 1:1 and 10:1 did not express a detectable level of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Moreover, the B. pseudomallei infected cells released TNF-alpha only when they were infected with high MOI (10:1). Unlike the cells infected with B. pseudomallei, the cells infected with E. coli, and S. typhi expressed iNOS even at MOI of 0.1:1. These infected cells also released a significantly higher level of TNF-alpha at the low MOI ratio. The cells that were preactivated with IFN-gamma prior to being infected with B. pseudomallei exhibited an enhanced production of iNOS and TNF-alpha release. The increased macrophage activation activity in the presence of IFN-gamma also correlated with the restriction of the intracellular bacteria survival. Moreover, IFN-gamma also prevented cell fusion and multinucleated cell formation induced by B. pseudomallei, a phenomenon recently described by our group. Altogether, these results indicate that internalization of B. pseudomallei failed to trigger substantial macrophage activation, a phenomenon which could prolong their survival inside the phagocytic cells and facilitate a direct cell to cell spreading of B. pseudomallei to neighboring cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei / growth & development
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei / immunology
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei / pathogenicity*
  • Cell Line
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Macrophages / enzymology*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Melioidosis / etiology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / biosynthesis*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Salmonella typhi / pathogenicity
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, rat