Microbial colonization of mucosal surfaces may be an initial event in the progression to disease, and it is often a transient process. For the extracellular pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae studied in a mouse model, nasopharyngeal carriage is eliminated over a period of weeks and requires cellular rather than humoral immunity. Here, we demonstrate that primary infection led to TLR2-dependent recruitment of monocyte/macrophages into the upper airway lumen, where they engulfed pneumococci. Pharmacologic depletion of luminal monocyte/macrophages by intranasal instillation of liposomal clodronate diminished pneumococcal clearance. Efficient clearance of colonization required TLR2 signaling to generate a population of pneumococcal-specific IL-17–expressing CD4+ T cells. Depletion of either IL-17A or CD4+ T cells was sufficient to block the recruitment of monocyte/macrophages that allowed for effective late pneumococcal clearance. In contrast with naive mice, previously colonized mice showed enhanced early clearance that correlated with a more robust influx of luminal neutrophils. As for primary colonization, these cellular responses required Th17 immunity. Our findings demonstrate that monocyte/macrophages and neutrophils recruited to the mucosal surface are key effectors in clearing primary and secondary bacterial colonization, respectively.
Zhe Zhang, Thomas B. Clarke, Jeffrey N. Weiser
Accelerated clearance in the secondary pneumococcal challenge is associated with enhanced cellular responses.