Pseudomonas aeruginosapromotes autophagy to suppress macrophage-mediated bacterial eradication

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To explore the role of autophagy on macrophage-mediated phagocytosis and intracellular killing of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), a common extracellular bacterium which often causes various opportunistic infections.


Macrophages were infected with PA or stimulated with zymosan bioparticles. Autophagy was tested by fluorescent microscopy and Western blot for LC3. Phagocytosis and killing efficiency were assessed by plate count assay, flow cytometry or immunofluorescent staining. Phagocytic receptor expression, ROS generation and NO production were examined by PCR, flow cytometry and Griess reaction, respectively.


PA infection induced autophagy activation in both mouse and human macrophages. Induction of autophagy by rapamycin or starvation significantly inhibited PA internalization by downregulating phagocytosis receptor expression, and suppressed intracellular killing of PA via reducing ROS and NO production in macrophages. While knockdown of autophagy molecules ATG7 or Beclin1 enhanced macrophage-mediated phagocytosis and intracellular killing of PA. Additionally, confocal microscopy data showed that induction of autophagy reduced the number of phagosomes and phagolysosomes in macrophages after stimulation with zymosan bioparticles.


Our study suggested that PA promotes autophagy to suppress macrophage-mediated bacterial phagocytosis and intracellular killing. These insights demonstrated a novel immune evasion mechanism employed by PA, which may provide potential therapeutic strategies of PA infectious diseases.

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