Lei Shi 1 , Kazue Takahashi 1 , Joseph Dundee 1 , Sarit Shahroor-Karni 1 , Steffen Thiel 3 , Jens Christian Jensenius 3 , Faten Gad 2 , Michael R. Hamblin 2 , Kedarnath N. Sastry 1 , R. Alan B. Ezekowitz 1
17 May 2004
Gram-positive organisms like Staphylococcus aureus are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Humoral response molecules together with phagocytes play a role in host responses to S. aureus. The mannose-binding lectin (MBL, also known as mannose-binding protein) is an oligomeric serum molecule that recognizes carbohydrates decorating a broad range of infectious agents including S. aureus. Circumstantial evidence in vitro and in vivo suggests that MBL plays a key role in first line host defense. We tested this contention directly in vivo by generating mice that were devoid of all MBL activity. We found that 100% of MBL-null mice died 48 h after exposure to an intravenous inoculation of S. aureus compared with 45% mortality in wild-type mice. Furthermore, we demonstrated that neutrophils and MBL are required to limit intraperitoneal infection with S. aureus. Our study provides direct evidence that MBL plays a key role in restricting the complications associated with S. aureus infection in mice and raises the idea that the MBL gene may act as a disease susceptibility gene against staphylococci infections in humans.