Reviews of Infectious Diseases vol:11 Suppl 1 pages:S305-S312
Toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1) is a potent immunomodulating substance isolated from Staphylococcus aureus strains associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Flow cytometric analysis was used to compare scatter changes in several cell-surface phenotype markers on human mononuclear cells exposed in vitro to TSST-1 or to phytohemagglutinin, a lectin with similar effects on the immune response. The results showed differences between PHA and TSST-1 in the appearance of the tested T cell subset markers and of interleukin 2 receptors. In general, the stimulation of mononuclear cells by TSST-1 was slower than that by phytohemagglutinin. TSST-1 induced the production of interferon in cultures of murine spleen cells. By means of inhibition studies with specific antibodies to interferon, the interferon produced was characterized as the gamma type. Human mononuclear cells exposed to the toxin also produced gamma interferon, with levels similar to those induced by staphylococcal enterotoxin A, a known potent interferon inducer. The induction of gamma interferon by TSST-1 may play a role in the immunosuppression caused by TSST-1.