Extreme pathophysiological stressors induce expansion of otherwise infrequent leukocyte populations. Here, we found a previously unidentified CD11b+Gr-1+ myeloid cell population that expresses stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1) induced upon experimental infection with Staphylococcus aureus. Although CD11b+Gr-1+Sca-1+ cells have impaired migratory capacity and superoxide anion-producing activity, they secrete increased levels of several cytokines and chemokines compared to Sca-1- counterparts. The generation of CD11b+Gr-1+Sca-1+ cells is dependent on IFN-γ in vivo, and in vitro stimulation of bone marrow cells or granulocyte-macrophage progenitors with IFN-γ generated CD11b+Gr-1+Sca-1+ cells. Depletion of CD11b+Gr-1+Sca-1+ cells by administrating anti-Sca-1 antibody strongly increased survival rates in an S. aureus infection model by reducing organ damage and inflammatory cytokines. However, adoptive transfer of CD11b+Gr-1+Sca-1+ cells decreased survival rates by worsening the pathogenesis of S. aureus infection. Together, we found a previously unidentified pathogenic CD11b+Gr-1+Sca-1+ population that plays an essential role in mortality during bacterial infection.
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