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Merres, Julika; Höss, Jonas; Albrecht, Lea-Jessica; Kress, Eugenia; Söhnlein, Oliver; Jansen, Sandra; Pufe, Thomas; Tauber, Simone C.; Brandenburg, Lars-Ove (2014): Role of the cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide in inflammation and mortality in a mouse model of bacterial meningitis. In: Journal of Innate Immunity, Vol. 6, No. 2: pp. 205-218


Antimicrobial peptides (AP) are important components of the innate immune system, yet little is known about their expression and function in the brain. Our previous work revealed upregulated gene expression of cathelicidin-related AP (CRAMP) following bacterial meningitis in primary rat glial cells as well as bactericidal activity against frequent meningitis-causing bacteria. However, the effect of cathelicidin expression on the progression of inflammation and mortality in bacterial meningitis remains unknown. Therefore, we used CRAMP-deficient mice to investigate the effect of CRAMP on bacterial growth, inflammatory responses and mortality in meningitis. Meningitis was induced by intracerebral injection of type 3 Streptococcus pneumoniae. The degree of inflammation was analyzed in various brain regions by means of immunohistochemistry and real-time RT-PCR. CRAMP deficiency led to a higher mortality rate that was associated with increased bacterial titers in the cerebellum, blood and spleen as well as decreased meningeal neutrophil infiltration. CRAMP-deficient mice displayed a higher degree of glial cell activation that was accompanied by a more pronounced proinflammatory response. Taken together, this work provides insight into the important role of CRAMP as part of the innate immune defense against pathogens in bacterial CNS infections.