Legionella pneumophila kills human phagocytes but not protozoan host cells by inducing apoptotic cell death

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1998 Dec 1;169(1):51-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1998.tb13298.x.


Legionella pneumophila is a facultative intracellular parasite able to replicate within and to kill a variety of eukaryotic cells. One possible killing mechanism is the induction of programmed cell death. Based on electron microscopy and flow cytometry studies using the phosphatidylserine binding protein annexin V, we could demonstrate that L. pneumophila is able to induce apoptosis in human monocytes which was clearly dependent on the multiplicity of infection, the time postinfection and the intracellular location of the bacteria. Furthermore, it became evident that Legionella-induced apoptosis does not require the TNF-alpha mediated signal-transduction pathway. By studying infection in Acanthamoeba castellanii, we found that L. pneumophila is not able to induce programmed cell death in their natural host cells indicating that different mechanisms are responsible for host cell killing in protozoan and human cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Humans
  • Legionella pneumophila / pathogenicity*
  • Phagocytes / microbiology*
  • Species Specificity