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Researchers map how staph infections alter immune system
Date:7/13/2009

e turned on or off. They found that in children with invasive staphylococcal infections, the genes involved in the body's innate immune response are overactivated while those associated with the adaptive immune system are suppressed.

"It's a very sophisticated and complex dysregulation of the immune system, but our findings prove that there's consistency in the immune response to the staphylococcus bacterium," Dr. Ardura said. "Now that we know how the immune system responds, the question is whether we can use this to predict patient outcomes or differentiate the sickest patients from the less sick ones. How can we use this knowledge to develop better therapies?"

Researchers used blood samples collected between 2001 and 2005 from 77 children 53 hospitalized at Children's Medical Center Dallas with invasive S. aureus infections and 24 controls. The control samples were collected from healthy children attending either well-child clinic or undergoing elective surgical procedures. Children with underlying chronic diseases, immunodeficiency, multiple infections, and those who received steroids or other immunomodulatory therapies were excluded from the study.

The children ranged in age from a few months to 15 years and included 43 boys and 34 girls. Those with S. aureus infections both methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible (MSSA) were matched with healthy controls for age, sex and race. The researchers also characterized the extent as well as the type of infection in each patient to make sure that the strain of bacteria didn't influence the results.

Dr. Ardura stressed that more research is needed because the results represent a one-time snapshot of what's going on in the cell during an invasive staphylococcal infection.

"The median time to get the blood sample was day four because we wanted to make sure the hospitalized children had a S. aureus infection, and its takes four days to
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Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
kristen.hollandshear@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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