Trained Immunity Confers Broad-Spectrum Protection Against Bacterial Infections

J Infect Dis. 2020 Nov 9;222(11):1869-1881. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz692.


Background: The innate immune system recalls a challenge to adapt to a secondary challenge, a phenomenon called trained immunity. Training involves cellular metabolic, epigenetic and functional reprogramming, but how broadly trained immunity protects from infections is unknown. For the first time, we addressed whether trained immunity provides protection in a large panel of preclinical models of infections.

Methods: Mice were trained and subjected to systemic infections, peritonitis, enteritis, and pneumonia induced by Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Citrobacter rodentium, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Bacteria, cytokines, leukocytes, and hematopoietic precursors were quantified in blood, bone marrow, and organs. The role of monocytes/macrophages, granulocytes, and interleukin 1 signaling was investigated using depletion or blocking approaches.

Results: Induction of trained immunity protected mice in all preclinical models, including when training and infection were initiated in distant organs. Trained immunity increased bone marrow hematopoietic progenitors, blood Ly6Chigh inflammatory monocytes and granulocytes, and sustained blood antimicrobial responses. Monocytes/macrophages and interleukin 1 signaling were required to protect trained mice from listeriosis. Trained mice were efficiently protected from peritonitis and listeriosis for up to 5 weeks.

Conclusions: Trained immunity confers broad-spectrum protection against lethal bacterial infections. These observations support the development of trained immunity-based strategies to improve host defenses.

Keywords: Listeria; innate immunity; infection; monocyte/macrophage; neutrophil; peritonitis; pneumonia; sepsis; stem cell; trained immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bone Marrow
  • Citrobacter rodentium
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli
  • Female
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Listeriosis / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Sepsis / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1