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Securinine, a GABAA receptor antagonist, enhances macrophage clearance of phase II C. burnetii: comparison with TLR agonists.

Journal of Leukocyte Biology 82(5):1062 (2007) PMID 17698917

Innate immune cell stimulation represents a complementary approach to vaccines and antimicrobial drugs to counter infectious disease. We have used assays of macrophage activation and in vitro and in vivo phase II Coxiella burnetii infection models to compare and contrast the activity of a novel innate immune cell agonist, securinine, with known TLR agonists. As expected, TLR agonists, such as LPS (TLR4) and fibroblast-stimulating lipopeptide-1 (FSL-1; TLR2), induced macrophage activation and increased macrophage killing of phase II C. burnetii in vitro. FSL-1 also induced accelerated killing of C. burnetii in vivo. Securinine, a gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptor antagonist, was found to induce TLR-independent macrophage activation in vitro, leading to IL-8 secretion, L-selectin down-regulation, and CD11b and MHC Class II antigen up-regulation. As seen with the TLR agonists, securinine also induced accelerated macrophage killing of C. burnetii in vitro and in vivo. In summary, as predicted by the literature, TLR agonists enhance macrophage killing of phase II C. burnetii in vitro, and at least for TLR2 agonists, this activity occurs in vivo as well. Securinine represents a novel macrophage agonist, which has similar effects as TLR agonists in this model yet apparently, does not act through known TLRs. Securinine has minimal toxicity in vivo, suggesting it or structurally similar compounds may represent novel, therapeutic adjuvants, which increase resistance to intracellular pathogens.

DOI: 10.1189/jlb.0407255