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BACKGROUND: Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a post-infectious polyradiculoneuropathy, frequently associated with antecedent Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) infection. The presence of sialic acid on C. jejuni lipo-oligosaccharide (LOS) is considered a risk factor for development of GBS as it crucially determines the structural homology between LOS and gangliosides, explaining the induction of cross-reactive neurotoxic antibodies. Sialylated C. jejuni are recognised by TLR4 and sialoadhesin; however, the functional implications of these interactions in vivo are unknown. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study we investigated the effects of bacterial sialylation on phagocytosis and cytokine secretion by mouse myeloid cells in vitro and in vivo. Using fluorescently labelled GM1a/GD1a ganglioside-mimicking C. jejuni strains and corresponding (Cst-II-mutant) control strains lacking sialic acid, we show that sialylated C. jejuni was more efficiently phagocytosed in vitro by BM-MΦ, but not by BM-DC. In addition, LOS sialylation increased the production of IL-10, IL-6 and IFN-β by both BM-MΦ and BM-DC. Subsequent in vivo experiments revealed that sialylation augmented the deposition of fluorescent bacteria in splenic DC, but not macrophages. In addition, sialylation significantly amplified the production of type I interferons, which was independent of pDC. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These results identify novel immune stimulatory effects of C. jejuni sialylation, which may be important in inducing cross-reactive humoral responses that cause GBS.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Animals, Campylobacter Infections, Campylobacter jejuni, Cytokines, Dendritic Cells, Gangliosides, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Interferon-beta, Interleukin-10, Interleukin-6, Lipopolysaccharides, Macrophages, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Myeloid Cells, N-Acetylneuraminic Acid, Phagocytosis, Spleen