The gene expression and cytokine release of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) after infection of human epithelial cells (HEp-2 cells) and polymorphonuclear granulocytes (PMNs) were investigated by using isogenic pairs of Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica strains. By polymerase chain reaction-assisted mRNA amplification and RNA dot blot analysis, we showed that PMNs and HEp-2 cells expressed enhanced levels of mRNA encoding IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha after bacterial infection. Concomitant with the enhanced mRNA level, an increased secretion rate of IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha from PMNs as assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was observed. HEp-2 cells after infection also released IL-6 and TNF-alpha into the cell supernatant, while no IL-1 beta release was detected. Cellular coincubation experiments were carried out with Transwell chambers. Our studies revealed that the coculture of PMNs and HEp-2 cells led to an increased IL-1 beta and IL-6 release. In contrast, after infection with the invasive bacteria, reduced levels of TNF-alpha were measured. Our data show that PMNs secrete the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha within some hours after infection with L. monocytogenes and Y. enterocolitica and that cellular interactions with epithelial cells alone via soluble mediators influence the net amount of released proinflammatory cytokines
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