Spatial proteomics revealed a CX 3 CL1-dependent crosstalk between the urothelium and relocated macrophages through IL-6 during an acute bacterial infection in the urinary bladder

Mucosal Immunol. 2020 Jul;13(4):702-714. doi: 10.1038/s41385-020-0269-7. Epub 2020 Feb 28.


The urothelium of the urinary bladder represents the first line of defense. However, uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) damage the urothelium and cause acute bacterial infection. Here, we demonstrate the crosstalk between macrophages and the urothelium stimulating macrophage migration into the urothelium. Using spatial proteomics by MALDI-MSI and LC-MS/MS, a novel algorithm revealed the spatial activation and migration of macrophages. Analysis of the spatial proteome unravelled the coexpression of Myo9b and F4/80 in the infected urothelium, indicating that macrophages have entered the urothelium upon infection. Immunofluorescence microscopy additionally indicated that intraurothelial macrophages phagocytosed UPEC and eliminated neutrophils. Further analysis of the spatial proteome by MALDI-MSI showed strong expression of IL-6 in the urothelium and local inhibition of this molecule reduced macrophage migration into the urothelium and aggravated the infection. After IL-6 inhibition, the expression of matrix metalloproteinases and chemokines, such as CX3CL1 was reduced in the urothelium. Accordingly, macrophage migration into the urothelium was diminished in the absence of CX3CL1 signaling in Cx3cr1gfp/gfp mice. Conclusively, this study describes the crosstalk between the infected urothelium and macrophages through IL-6-induced CX3CL1 expression. Such crosstalk facilitates the relocation of macrophages into the urothelium and reduces bacterial burden in the urinary bladder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Chemokine CX3CL1 / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • Urinary Bladder / immunology
  • Urinary Bladder / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder / microbiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / etiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / metabolism
  • Urinary Tract Infections / pathology
  • Urothelium / immunology*
  • Urothelium / metabolism*
  • Urothelium / microbiology


  • Chemokine CX3CL1
  • Interleukin-6