Individuals with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of acquiring melioidosis, a disease caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei infection. Although up to half of melioidosis patients have underlying diabetes, the mechanisms involved in this increased susceptibility are unknown. We found that B. pseudomallei–infected PBMCs from diabetic patients were impaired in IL-12p70 production, which resulted in decreased IFN-γ induction and poor bacterial killing. The defect was specific to the IL-12–IFN-γ axis. Defective IL-12 production was also observed during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, in which diabetes is likewise known to be a strong risk factor. In contrast, IL-12 production in diabetic cells was not affected upon Salmonella enterica infection or in response to TLR2, -3, -4, and -5 ligands. Poor IL-12 production correlated with a deficiency in intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH) concentrations in diabetic patients. Addition of GSH or N-acetylcysteine to PBMCs selectively restored IL-12 and IFN-γ production and improved bacterial killing. Furthermore, the depletion of GSH in mice led to increased susceptibility to melioidosis, reduced production of IL-12p70, and poorer disease outcome. Our data thus establish a link between GSH deficiency in diabetes and increased susceptibility to melioidosis that may open up new therapeutic avenues to protect diabetic patients against some intracellular bacterial pathogens.
Kai Soo Tan, Kok Onn Lee, Kee Chung Low, Akshamal Mihiranga Gamage, Yichun Liu, Gek-Yen Gladys Tan, Hui Qi Vanessa Koh, Sylvie Alonso, Yunn-Hwen Gan
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.