Genital Mycoplasmas Stimulate Tumor Necrosis Factor-α and Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Production from a Murine Macrophage Cell Line

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Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma hominis, two genital mycoplasmas, are the most common organisms isolated in the perinatal period and both either cause or are associated with poor perinatal outcomes. We speculate that these microbes could increase inflammation by stimulating macrophages to produce tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and inducible nitric oxide synthase because of their propensity to interact with the host's immune system. To test this hypothesis, RAW 264.7 cells, a murine macrophage cell line, were coincubated for 16 h with either U. urealyticum or M. hominis, and LPS and sterile broth were used as controls. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and both mycoplasmas induced TNF-α production, which was concentration-dependent, whereas sterile broth had little effect. TNF-α production was not inhibited by the addition of polymyxin B, excluding the possibility of contaminating endotoxin in this effect. Inducible nitric oxide synthase was produced only in the presence of recombinant interferon-γ. We conclude that both viable and nonviable U. urealyticum and M. hominis are capable of TNF-α induction from murine macrophages and that LPS is not involved in this event. Also, the genital mycoplasmas are capable of stimulating inducible nitric oxide synthase production from murine macrophages. We speculate that the genital mycoplasmas produce perinatal disease by producing proinflammatory mediators by their interaction with inflammatory cells and either induce or act as a catalyst and augment inflammation which in turn leads to a poor pregnancy outcome.

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