By: Björkander, S., Hell, L., Johansson, MA., Mata Forsberg, M., Lasaviciute, G., Roos, S., Holmlund, U., Sverremark-Ekström, E.

Staphylococcus aureus-derived factors induce IL-10, IFN-γ and IL-17A-expressing FOXP3(+)CD161(+) T-helper cells in a partly monocyte-dependent manner



Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a human pathogen as well as a frequent colonizer of skin and mucosa. This bacterium potently activates conventional T-cells through superantigens and it is suggested to induce T-cell cytokine-production as well as to promote a regulatory phenotype in T-cells in order to avoid clearance. This study aimed to investigate how S. aureus impacts the production of regulatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines and the expression of CD161 and HELIOS by peripheral CD4(+)FOXP3(+) T-cells. Stimulation of PBMC with S. aureus 161:2-cell free supernatant (CFS) induced expression of IL-10, IFN-γ and IL-17A in FOXP3(+) cells. Further, CD161 and HELIOS separated the FOXP3(+) cells into four distinct populations regarding cytokine-expression. Monocyte-depletion decreased S. aureus 161:2-induced activation of FOXP3(+) cells while pre-stimulation of purified monocytes with S. aureus 161:2-CFS and subsequent co-culture with autologous monocyte-depleted PBMC was sufficient to mediate activation of FOXP3(+) cells. Together, these data show that S. aureus potently induces FOXP3(+) cells and promotes a diverse phenotype with expression of regulatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines connected to increased CD161-expression. This could indicate potent regulation or a contribution of FOXP3(+) cells to inflammation and repression of immune-suppression upon encounter with S. aureus.