Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

Lack of nutritional immunity in diabetic skin infections promotes Staphylococcus aureus virulence

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Science Advances  13 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 46, eabc5569
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc5569


Elevated blood/tissue glucose is a hallmark feature of advanced diabetes, and people with diabetes are prone to more frequent and invasive infections with Staphylococcus aureus. Phagocytes must markedly increase glucose consumption during infection to generate and oxidative burst and kill invading bacteria. Similarly, glucose is essential for S. aureus survival in an infection and competition with the host, for this limited resource is reminiscent of nutritional immunity. Here, we show that infiltrating phagocytes do not express their high-efficiency glucose transporters in modeled diabetic infections, resulting in a diminished respiratory burst and increased glucose availability for S. aureus. We show that excess glucose in these hyperglycemic abscesses significantly enhances S. aureus virulence potential, resulting in worse infection outcomes. Last, we show that two glucose transporters recently acquired by S. aureus are essential for excess virulence factor production and the concomitant increase in disease severity in hyperglycemic infections.

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