Staphylococcus aureus invades the epithelium in nasal polyposis and induces IL-6 in nasal epithelial cells in vitro

Allergy. 2010 Nov;65(11):1430-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2010.02381.x.


Background: Staphylococcus aureus has been associated with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) pathogenesis but its role is still controversially discussed. Here, we demonstrate S. aureus detection in the mucosa of CRSwNP. In addition, intracellular residency of S. aureus in nasal polyp epithelial cells (NPECs) and its capability to induce TH-2 cytokines were analyzed in vitro.

Methods: Staphylococcus aureus detection in CRSwNP (n = 25), CRS without polyps (CRSsNP, n = 5), and turbinate mucosa (TM, n = 10) was performed by peptide nucleic acid-fluorescence in situ hybridization (PNA-FISH) and microbial cultivation from tissue biopsies. Intracellular residency was examined by intracellular persistence assay and electron microscopy. IL-6 and IL-13 responses to S. aureus infection and supernatants were quantified by ELISA.

Results: Peptide nucleic acid-fluorescence in situ hybridization positive bacterial cells were significantly increased in the epithelium of CRSwNP (17/25) compared to CRSsNP (0/5) and TM (1/10). Good concordance of PNA-FISH results and S. aureus cultivation was found applying Cohen's κ for CRSwNP (κ = 0.841) and TM (κ = 1.0). Intracellular persistence assay with S. aureus strain Newman and its corresponding small-colony variant mutant strain III33 demonstrated intracellular survival and replication of S. aureus within NPECs. Both S. aureus strains significantly induced IL-6 but not IL-13 in infected NPECs and in NPECs challenged with corresponding staphylococcal supernatants.

Conclusion: Invasion of the epithelium by S. aureus was a phenomenon seen predominantly in CRSwNP. Regardless of an intra- or extracellular localization in the epithelium, S. aureus is capable to induce IL-6 synthesis in vitro and thus may contribute to the TH-2 cytokine pattern in CRSwNP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Interleukin-13 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Mucosa / immunology
  • Nasal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Nasal Polyps / complications
  • Nasal Polyps / immunology
  • Nasal Polyps / microbiology*
  • Rhinitis / complications
  • Rhinitis / immunology
  • Rhinitis / microbiology*
  • Sinusitis / complications
  • Sinusitis / immunology
  • Sinusitis / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / complications*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology


  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-6