Role of interferon in streptococcal infection in the mouse

Douglas A. Weigent, Timothy L. Huff, Johnny W. Peterson, G. John Stanton, Samuel Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In previous studies, we have shown the rapid in vitro induction of IFNγ from human T cells by highly purified peptic extracts of M proteins from Streptococcus pyogenes. The present report extends these in vitro studies and shows that a mixture of both α/β and γ IFN were present in spleen cell homogenates after in vivo treatment with M protein wild-type (M +) or mutant (M-) S. pyogenes strains. The levels of bacterial-induced IFN were found to be greater in M+ treated animals. Additional studies in vivo showed that pretreatment of mice with heat-killed M+ S. pyogenes organisms significantly protected mice to pneumococcal infection compared to similarly treated M- or control animals (P < 0.001) Further, antibodies to mouse IFNα/β and antibodies specific to a synthetic N-terminal peptide of mouse IFNγ enhanced the death of animals due to pneumococcal infection and blocked the protection observed in animals previously treated with heat-killed M+ organisms. Most importantly, treatment of mice with either type of IFN alone enhanced the survival of mice to levels similar to that observed by treatment with M+ organisms (P < 0.05). The results strongly suggest that IFN can play a crucial role, directly or indirectly, in controlling infection by Streptococcus pneumoniae and perhaps other streptococci.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-407
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobial Pathogenesis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • Interferon
  • M protein
  • alpha/beta
  • gamma
  • interferon antibodies in vivo
  • streptococci

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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