The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy vol:46 issue:5 pages:717-23
We have investigated the influence of subinhibitory concentrations of erythromycin on the interaction between Streptococcus pneumoniae and human respiratory epithelial cells. Confluent in vitro cell cultures were inoculated with erythromycin-resistant S. pneumoniae and incubated for 24 h. Erythromycin significantly reduced adherence of the pneumococci after 4 h and 24 h: 4.0% +/- 0.7% (mean +/- S.E.M. ) of the pneumococci adhered to the epithelial cells in medium with erythromycin, compared with 7.7% +/- 0.8% in medium without erythromycin (P: = 0.002) after 4 h, and the corresponding values after 24 h were 24.2% +/- 5.3% and 38.4% +/- 5.0%, respectively (P: = 0.038). Disruption of epithelial integrity by S. pneumoniae, measured as the decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance, was delayed in the presence of erythromycin. Neither addition of erythromycin to the culture medium nor infection of the cell cultures with pneumococci significantly affected secretion of interleukin-8 by the epithelial cells. Addition of erythromycin to a pneumococcal suspension in cell culture medium without respiratory epithelial cells almost completely prevented the release of pneumolysin. We conclude that erythromycin at subinhibitory concentrations reduces the adherence to and disruption of respiratory epithelial cells by S. pneumoniae, possibly by interfering with pneumolysin release.