Nitric oxide exerts distinct effects in local and systemic infections with Streptococcus pneumoniae

Alison R Kerr, Xiao-Qing Wei, Peter W Andrew, Tim J Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Nitric oxide (NO) is known to be involved in the immune response against a range of organisms. Little is known about the effects of nitric oxide in pneumococcal infections. We have now investigated the role of nitric oxide in local and systemic infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in NOS2 deficient mice. Although a deficiency in NO does not affect survival of mice during pneumococcal pneumonia, NO does control pneumococcal viability within the lung airways and tissue. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from NOS2-deficient mice contained significantly elevated TNF activity, IFNgamma and total protein during mid/late infection. Incubation of S. pneumoniae with the NO donor SNAP revealed a direct anti-pneumococcal effect for NO in vitro. Deficiency in NOS2 did not affect bacteraemia following intranasal infection. In contrast NOS2-deficient mice were significantly less susceptible to intravenous infection with S. pneumoniae than were wild type mice and were able to control pneumococcal viability within the bloodstream. Our results indicate that NO is required within the lungs for anti-bacterial activity during the pneumococcal pneumonia but during Gram-positive bacteraemia NO is associated with increased bacterial loads and reduced survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-10
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial Pathogenesis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


  • Animals
  • Blood
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lung
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Pneumococcal Infections
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal
  • Proteins
  • Sepsis
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha


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