Interferon-γ limits the availability of iron for intramacrophage Salmonella typhimurium

Manfred Nairz, Gernot Fritsche, Peter Brunner, Heribert Talasz, Klaus Hantke, Günter Weiss

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119 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1923-1936
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • IFN-γ
  • Iron
  • Macrophage
  • Nitric oxide
  • Salmonella


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