Staphylococcus aureus invades the epithelium in nasal polyposis and induces IL-6 in nasal epithelial cells in vitro


  • Edited by: Hans-Uwe Simon

Florian Sachse, MD, Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, University of Münster, Kardinal von Galen Ring 10, D-48149 Münster, Germany.
Tel.: 0049 251 83 56863
Fax: 0049 251 83 56812


To cite this article: Sachse F, Becker K, von Eiff C, Metze D, Rudack C. Staphylococcus aureus invades the epithelium in nasal polyposis and induces IL-6 in nasal epithelial cells in vitro. Allergy 2010; 65: 1430–1437.


Background: Staphylococcus aureus has been associated with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) pathogenesis but its role is still controversially discussed. Here, we demonstrate S. aureus detection in the mucosa of CRSwNP. In addition, intracellular residency of S. aureus in nasal polyp epithelial cells (NPECs) and its capability to induce TH-2 cytokines were analyzed in vitro.

Methods: Staphylococcus aureus detection in CRSwNP (n = 25), CRS without polyps (CRSsNP, n = 5), and turbinate mucosa (TM, n = 10) was performed by peptide nucleic acid-fluorescence in situ hybridization (PNA-FISH) and microbial cultivation from tissue biopsies. Intracellular residency was examined by intracellular persistence assay and electron microscopy. IL-6 and IL-13 responses to S. aureus infection and supernatants were quantified by ELISA.

Results:  Peptide nucleic acid-fluorescence in situ hybridization positive bacterial cells were significantly increased in the epithelium of CRSwNP (17/25) compared to CRSsNP (0/5) and TM (1/10). Good concordance of PNA-FISH results and S. aureus cultivation was found applying Cohen’s κ for CRSwNP (κ = 0.841) and TM (κ = 1.0). Intracellular persistence assay with S. aureus strain Newman and its corresponding small-colony variant mutant strain III33 demonstrated intracellular survival and replication of S. aureus within NPECs. Both S. aureus strains significantly induced IL-6 but not IL-13 in infected NPECs and in NPECs challenged with corresponding staphylococcal supernatants.

Conclusion:  Invasion of the epithelium by S. aureus was a phenomenon seen predominantly in CRSwNP. Regardless of an intra- or extracellular localization in the epithelium, S. aureus is capable to induce IL-6 synthesis in vitro and thus may contribute to the TH-2 cytokine pattern in CRSwNP.