Our understanding of how the host immune system thwarts bacterial evasive mechanisms remains incomplete. Here, we show that host protease neutrophil elastase acts on Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa to destroy factors that prevent serum-associated, complement-directed killing. The protease activity also enhances bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics in sera. These findings implicate a new paradigm where host protease activity on bacteria acts combinatorially with the host complement system and antibiotics to defeat bacterial pathogens.
Keywords: antibiotics; bacterial pathogens; host complement system; host immune system; multidrug resistant bacteria; protease neutrophil elastase.