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Papers: 23 Mar 2024 - 29 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 13



Editor's Pick

Biofilm exopolysaccharides alter sensory-neuron-mediated sickness during lung infection.


Granton E, Brown L, Defaye M, Moazen P, Almblad H, Randall TE, Rich JD, Geppert A, Abdullah NS, Hassanabad MF, Hiroki CH, Farias R, Nguyen AP, Schubert C, Lou Y, Andonegui G, Iftinca M, Raju D, Vargas MA, Howell PL, Füzesi T, Bains J, Kurrasch D, Harrison JJ, Altier C, Yipp BG


Infections of the lung cause observable sickness thought to be secondary to inflammation. Signs of sickness are crucial to alert others via behavioral-immune responses to limit contact with contagious individuals. Gram-negative bacteria produce exopolysaccharide (EPS) that provides microbial protection; however, the impact of EPS on sickness remains uncertain. Using genome-engineered Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) strains, we compared EPS-producers versus non-producers and a virulent Escherichia coli (E. coli) lung infection model in male and female mice. EPS-negative P. aeruginosa and virulent E. coli infection caused severe sickness, behavioral alterations, inflammation, and hypothermia mediated by TLR4 detection of the exposed lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in lung TRPV1 sensory neurons. However, inflammation did not account for sickness. Stimulation of lung nociceptors induced acute stress responses in the paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei by activating corticotropin-releasing hormone neurons responsible for sickness behavior and hypothermia. Thus, EPS-producing biofilm pathogens evade initiating a lung-brain sensory neuronal response that results in sickness.