Characterization of the murine macrophage response to infection with virulent and avirulent Burkholderia species

Chih Yuan Chiang, Ricky L. Ulrich, Melanie P. Ulrich, Brett Eaton, Jenifer F. Ojeda, Douglas J. Lane, Krishna P. Kota, Tara A. Kenny, Jason T. Ladner, Samuel P. Dickson, Kathleen Kuehl, Rahul Raychaudhuri, Mei Sun, Sina Bavari, Mark J. Wolcott, David Covell, Rekha G. Panchal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp) and Burkholderia mallei (Bm) are Gram-negative facultative intracellular pathogens, which are the causative agents of melioidosis and glanders, respectively. Depending on the route of exposure, aerosol or transcutaneous, infection by Bp or Bm can result in an extensive range of disease - from acute to chronic, relapsing illness to fatal septicemia. Both diseases are associated with difficult diagnosis and high fatality rates. About ninety five percent of patients succumb to untreated septicemic infections and the fatality rate is 50 % even when standard antibiotic treatments are administered. Results: The goal of this study is to profile murine macrophage-mediated phenotypic and molecular responses that are characteristic to a collection of Bp, Bm, Burkholderia thailandensis (Bt) and Burkholderia oklahomensis (Bo) strains obtained from humans, animals, environment and geographically diverse locations. Burkholderia spp. (N = 21) were able to invade and replicate in macrophages, albeit to varying degrees. All Bp (N = 9) and four Bm strains were able to induce actin polymerization on the bacterial surface following infection. Several Bp and Bm strains showed reduced ability to induce multinucleated giant cell (MNGC) formation, while Bo and Bp 776 were unable to induce this phenotype. Measurement of host cytokine responses revealed a statistically significant Bm mediated IL-6 and IL-10 production compared to Bp strains. Hierarchical clustering of transcriptional data from 84 mouse cytokines, chemokines and their corresponding receptors identified 29 host genes as indicators of differential responses between the Burkholderia spp. Further validation confirmed Bm mediated Il-1b, Il-10, Tnfrsf1b and Il-36a mRNA expressions were significantly higher when compared to Bp and Bt. Conclusions: These results characterize the phenotypic and immunological differences in the host innate response to pathogenic and avirulent Burkholderia strains and provide insight into the phenotypic alterations and molecular targets underlying host-Burkholderia interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number259
JournalBMC microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 6 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Burkholderia mallei
  • Burkholderia oklahomensis
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Burkholderia thailandensis
  • host response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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