Quercetin, a pneumolysin inhibitor, protects mice against Streptococcus pneumoniae infection.
Microb Pathog. 2020 Mar ;140:103934. Epub 2019 Dec 17. PMID: 31862394
Pneumolysin (PLY), a pore-forming cytotoxin and a major virulence determinant, is a member of the cholesterol-dependent cytolysin (CDC) family and essential for promoting Streptococcus pneumoniae (S.pneumoniae) infection. Due to the action characteristics of hemolysin itself, the pneumolysin released after killing bacteria with conventional antibiotics still has the ability to damage host cells; therefore, drug treatments directly inhibiting hemolysin activity are the most effective. Hemolysis assays were used to confirm that quercetin can inhibit the activity of PLY, protecting cells in vitro, and an oligomerization assay was used to determine the mechanism of quercetin to suppress PLY activity. Live/Dead testing, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release analysis and a murine model of endonasal pulmonary infection were used to explore the capability of quercetin to protect cells and mice from S. pneumoniae-mediated damage in vivo and in vitro. The results indicated that quercetin significantly reduced PLY-induced hemolytic activity and cytotoxicity via repressing the formation of oligomers. In addition, treatment with quercetin can reduce PLY-mediated cell injury, improve the survival rate of mice infected with a lethal dose of S. pneumoniae, alleviate the pathological damage of lung tissue and inhibit the release of cytokines (IL-1β and TNF-α) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Considering the importance of these events in antimicrobial resistant S. pneumoniae pathogenesis, our results indicated that quercetin may be a novel potential drug candidate for the treatment of clinical pneumococcal infections.