The role of human innate immune factors in nasal colonization by Staphylococcus aureus.
van Belkum A., Emonts M., Wertheim H., de Jongh C., Nouwen J., Bartels H., Cole A., Cole A., Hermans P., Boelens H., Toom NL-D., Snijders S., Verbrugh H., van Leeuwen W.
Staphylococcus aureus colonization of the human nares predisposes to sometimes severe auto-infection. To investigate whether genetic polymorphism affects the S. aureus carriage status, sequence variation in alpha-defensin and beta-defensin, and mannose-binding lectin (MBL) genes were determined for a group of volunteers (n=109) with known S. aureus nasal carriage status. DEFA1/3 expression was measured in a subset of the volunteers (n=32). None of the single nucleotide polymorphisms studied could clearly distinguish the (non) carriage groups. S. aureus carriers differed from non-carriers in baseline level of HNP1-3 peptide production (median: 218 versus 89mug/ml, P=0.016). No association between HNP1-3 levels and the individual sequence polymorphisms was documented. The combined copy numbers of DEFA1/A3 genes ranged from 5 to 23 per diploid genome. A linear correlation between combined copy numbers and HNP1-3 peptide concentrations in nasal secretions of non-carriers was noted (r(2)=0.8991). DEFA3 gene was absent in 25% of the individuals. MBL haplotype A was overrepresented in persistent S. aureus carriers (87% vs. 67%; P=0.038). In conclusion, defensin gene polymorphism, both in sequence and in gene copy numbers, does not seem to be involved in S. aureus carriage predisposition. However, MBL haplotypes do so significantly. Baseline HNP1-3 production is more the consequence of S. aureus colonization than a reason for the (non) carrier status.