Rationale: Acinetobacter baumannii is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen that is increasingly associated with gram-negative nosocomial pneumonia, but the molecular mechanisms that play a role in innate defenses during A. baumannii infection have not been elucidated.
Objective: To gain first insight into the role of CD14 and Toll-like receptors 4 and 2 in host response to A. baumannii pneumonia.
Methods: Respective gene-deficient mice were intranasally infected with A. baumannii, and bacterial outgrowth, lung inflammation, and pulmonary cytokine/chemokine responses were determined. To study the importance of LPS in the inflammatory response, mice were also challenged with A. baumannii LPS.
Measurements and main results: Bacterial counts were increased in CD14 and Toll-like receptor 4 gene-deficient mice, and only these animals developed bacteremia. The pulmonary cytokine/chemokine response was impaired in Toll-like receptor 4 knockout mice and the onset of lung inflammation was delayed. In contrast, Toll-like receptor 2-deficient animals displayed an earlier cell influx into lungs combined with increased macrophage inflammatory protein-2 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 concentrations, which was associated with accelerated elimination of bacteria from the pulmonary compartment. Neither CD14 nor Toll-like receptor 4 gene-deficient mice responded to intranasal administration of LPS, whereas Toll-like receptor 2 knockout mice were indistinguishable from wild-type animals.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that CD14 and Toll-like receptor 4 play a key role in innate sensing of A. baumannii via the LPS moiety, resulting in effective elimination of the bacteria from the lung, whereas Toll-like receptor 2 signaling seems to counteract the robustness of innate responses during acute A. baumannii pneumonia.