In stimulating effector functions of mononuclear phagocytes, IFN-γ is of pivotal importance in host defense against intramacrophage pathogens including salmonellae. As the activity of IFN-γ is modulated by iron and since a sufficient availability of iron is essential for the growth of pathogens, we investigated the regulatory effects of IFN-γ on iron homeostasis and immune function in murine macrophages infected with Salmonella typhimurium. In Salmonella-infected phagocytes, IFN-γ caused a significant reduction of iron uptake via transferrin receptor 1 and resulted in an increased iron efflux caused by an enhanced expression of the iron exporter ferroportin 1. Moreover, the expression of haem oxygenase 1 and of the siderophore-capturing antimicrobial peptide lipocalin 2 was markedly elevated following bacterial invasion, with IFN-γ exerting a super-inducing effect. This observed regulatory impact of IFN-γ reduced the intracellular iron pools within infected phagocytes, thus restricting the acquisition of iron by engulfed Salmonella typhimurium while concomitantly promoting NO and TNF-α production. Our data suggest that the modulation of crucial pathways of macrophage iron metabolism in response to IFN-γ concordantly aims at withdrawing iron from intracellular Salmonella and at strengthening macrophage immune response functions. These regulations are thus consistent with the principles of nutritional immunity.
- Nitric oxide