Expression and bactericidal activity of nitric oxide synthase in Brucella suis-infected murine macrophages

Infect Immun. 1998 Apr;66(4):1309-16. doi: 10.1128/IAI.66.4.1309-1316.1998.


We examined the expression and activity of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in both gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-treated and untreated murine macrophages infected with the gram-negative bacterium Brucella suis. The bacteria were opsonized with a mouse serum containing specific antibrucella antibodies (ops-Brucella) or with a control nonimmune serum (c-Brucella). The involvement of the produced NO in the killing of intracellular B. suis was evaluated. B. suis survived and replicated within J774A.1 cells. Opsonization with specific antibodies increased the number of phagocytized bacteria but lowered their intramacrophage development. IFN-gamma enhanced the antibrucella activity of phagocytes, with this effect being greater in ops-Brucella infection. Expression of iNOS, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) mRNAs was induced in both c-Brucella- and ops-Brucella-infected cells and was strongly potentiated by IFN-gamma. In contrast to that of cytokine mRNAs, iNOS mRNA expression was independent of opsonization. Similar levels of iNOS mRNAs were expressed in IFN-gamma-treated cells infected with c-Brucella or ops-Brucella; however, expression of iNOS protein and production of NO were detected only in IFN-gamma-treated cells infected with ops-Brucella. These discrepancies between iNOS mRNA and protein levels were not due to differences in TNF-alpha production. The iNOS inhibitor N omega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester increased B. suis multiplication specifically in IFN-gamma-treated cells infected with ops-Brucella, demonstrating a microbicidal effect of the NO produced. This observation was in agreement with in vitro experiments showing that B. suis was sensitive to NO killing. Together our data indicate that in B. suis-infected murine macrophages, the posttranscriptional regulation of iNOS necessitates an additive signal triggered by macrophage Fcgamma receptors. They also support the possibility that in mice, NO favors the elimination of Brucella, providing that IFN-gamma and antibrucella antibodies are present, i.e., following expression of acquired immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brucella / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Citrulline / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin G / classification
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester / pharmacology
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interleukin-6
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Citrulline
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester