Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis are related species which can cause predominantly acute and subacute infections, respectively. Differences in human adaptive immune responses to these two species are not well understood. Dendritic cells (DCs) have an important role in the control and regulation of anti-staphylococcal T cell responses. Therefore, we aimed to compare the ability of S. aureus and S. epidermidis to influence the essential steps in human DC activation and subsequent antigen-specific CD4+ T cell proliferation, and to investigate the underlying mechanisms. Using multiple strains of both species, we observed that S. aureus was internalized more effectively than S. epidermidis by DCs but that both species were equally potent in activating these host cells, as evidenced by similar induction of DC maturation marker expression and antigen loading onto MHC-II molecules. The DCs stimulated by S. aureus strains not harboring superantigen (SAg) genes or by any of the S. epidermidis strains, induced low, likely physiological levels of T cell proliferation. Only DCs stimulated with S. aureus strains harboring SAg genes induced high levels of T cell proliferation. Taken together, S. aureus and S. epidermidis do not differently affect DC activation and ensuing antigen-specific T cell proliferation, unless a strain has the capacity to produce SAgs.

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Keywords Dendritic cells, Human immune response, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Superantigen, T cells
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Journal Microorganisms
Balraadjsing, P.P. (Payal P.), de Jong, E.C. (Esther C.), van Wamel, W.J.B, & Zaat, S.A.J. (2019). Dendritic cells internalize staphylococcus aureus more efficiently than staphylococcus epidermidis, but do not differ in induction of antigen-specific t cell proliferation. Microorganisms, 8(1). doi:10.3390/microorganisms8010019