Our study was performed to investigate whether macrophages become activated during an infection with Salmonella typhimurium and, if so, whether these activated macrophages kill S. typhimurium faster than resident macrophages. Mice received i.v. injections with a sublethal number of S. typhimurium; on about day 12 of the infection the numbers of bacteria in the liver and the spleen were maximal. During the infection, activation of peritoneal macrophages could be demonstrated on the basis of three criteria, i.e., the ability to inhibit the proliferation of Toxoplasma gondii, an enhanced production of H2O2 and an increased expression of Ia Ag. The rate of in vitro intracellular killing of S. typhimurium by these activated macrophages was not increased compared to that for resident macrophages. To determine the growth of S. typhimurium in activated mice a nalidixic acid-resistant mutant strain, called S. typhimurium 510R, was used. The net growth rates of the mutant S. typhimurium 510R in the spleen of S. typhimurium 510-activated and normal mice were similar. However, in the liver of S. typhimurium 510-activated mice the number of S. typhimurium 510R did not change during 3 to 48 h after injection. The role of specific antibodies during the initial phase of the infection was negligible, because only low levels of antibodies were detected during the first 15 days of infection and the growth rates of S. typhimurium 510 in the spleen and liver of mice with high titers of antibodies were not significantly different from the rates in normal mice. The results of this study demonstrate that although macrophages become activated during an infection with S. typhimurium, these cells do not display an enhanced bactericidal activity in vitro and in vivo no significant effect on the growth rate of S. typhimurium in the spleen and a bacteriostatic effect in the liver is found. Hence macrophage activation is probably not very important in the host defense against S. typhimurium.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.