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J Cell Biol. 1993 November 2; 123(4): 895–907.
PMCID: PMC2200157

Salmonella typhimurium attachment to human intestinal epithelial monolayers: transcellular signalling to subepithelial neutrophils


In human intestinal disease induced by Salmonella typhimurium, transepithelial migration of neutrophils (PMN) rapidly follows attachment of the bacteria to the epithelial apical membrane. In this report, we model those interactions in vitro, using polarized monolayers of the human intestinal epithelial cell, T84, isolated human PMN, and S. typhimurium. We show that Salmonella attachment to T84 cell apical membranes did not alter monolayer integrity as assessed by transepithelial resistance and measurements of ion transport. However, when human neutrophils were subsequently placed on the basolateral surface of monolayers apically colonized by Salmonella, physiologically directed transepithelial PMN migration ensued. In contrast, attachment of a non-pathogenic Escherichia coli strain to the apical membrane of epithelial cells at comparable densities failed to stimulate a directed PMN transepithelial migration. Use of the n-formyl-peptide receptor antagonist N-t-BOC-1-methionyl-1-leucyl-1- phenylalanine (tBOC-MLP) indicated that the Salmonella-induced PMN transepithelial migration response was not attributable to the classical pathway by which bacteria induce directed migration of PMN. Moreover, the PMN transmigration response required Salmonella adhesion to the epithelial apical membrane and subsequent reciprocal protein synthesis in both bacteria and epithelial cells. Among the events stimulated by this interaction was the epithelial synthesis and polarized release of the potent PMN chemotactic peptide interleukin-8 (IL-8). However, IL-8 neutralization, transfer, and induction experiments indicated that this cytokine was not responsible for the elicited PMN transmigration. These data indicate that a novel transcellular pathway exists in which subepithelial PMN respond to lumenal pathogens across a functionally intact epithelium. Based on the known unique characteristics of the intestinal mucosa, we speculate that IL-8 may act in concert with an as yet unidentified transcellular chemotactic factor(s) (TCF) which directs PMN migration across the intestinal epithelium.

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