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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gram-positive pathogenic bacteria induce a common early response in human monocytes

Svetlin Tchatalbachev1*, Rohit Ghai12, Hamid Hossain1 and Trinad Chakraborty1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Medical Microbiology, Justus Liebig University, Frankfurter Str. 107, 35392 Giessen, Germany

2 Evolutionary Genomics Group, Departamento Producción Vegetal y Microbiología, Universidad Miguel Hernández, San Juan de Alicante, Spain

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:275  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-275

Published: 2 November 2010



We infected freshly isolated human peripheral monocytes with live bacteria of three clinically important gram-positive bacterial species, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Listeria monocytogenes and studied the ensuing early transcriptional response using expression microarrays. Thus the observed response was unbiased by signals originating from other helper and effector cells of the host and was not limited to induction by solitary bacterial constituents.


Activation of monocytes was demonstrated by the upregulation of chemokine rather than interleukin genes except for the prominent expression of interleukin 23, marking it as the early lead cytokine. This activation was accompanied by cytoskeleton rearrangement signals and a general anti-oxidative stress and anti-apoptotic reaction. Remarkably, the expression profiles also provide evidence that monocytes participate in the regulation of angiogenesis and endothelial function in response to these pathogens.


Regardless of the invasion properties and survival mechanisms of the pathogens used, we found that the early response comprised of a consistent and common response. The common response was hallmarked by the upregulation of interleukin 23, a rather unexpected finding regarding Listeria infection, as this cytokine has been linked primarily to the control of extracellular bacterial dissemination.