Novel approaches for adjunctive therapy are urgently needed for complicated infections and patients with compromised immunity. Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a destructive skin and soft tissue infection. Despite treatment with systemic antibiotics and radical debridement of necrotic tissue, lethality remains high. The key iron regulatory hormone hepcidin was originally identified as a cationic antimicrobial peptide (AMP), but its putative expression and role in the skin, a major site of AMP production, have never been investigated. We report here that hepcidin production is induced in the skin of patients with group A Streptococcus (GAS) NF. In a GAS-induced NF model, mice lacking hepcidin in keratinocytes failed to restrict systemic spread of infection from an initial tissue focus. Unexpectedly, this effect was due to its ability to promote production of the CXCL1 chemokine by keratinocytes, resulting in neutrophil recruitment. Unlike CXCL1, hepcidin is resistant to degradation by major GAS proteases and could therefore serve as a reservoir to maintain steady-state levels of CXCL1 in infected tissue. Finally, injection of synthetic hepcidin at the site of infection can limit or completely prevent systemic spread of GAS infection, suggesting that hepcidin agonists could have a therapeutic role in NF.
Mariangela Malerba, Sabine Louis, Sylvain Cuvellier, Srikanth Mairpady Shambat, Camille Hua, Camille Gomart, Agnès Fouet, Nicolas Ortonne, Jean-Winoc Decousser, Annelies S. Zinkernagel, Jacques R.R. Mathieu, Carole Peyssonnaux
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.