Synergism among oxidants, proteinases, phospholipases, microbial hemolysins, cationic proteins, and cytokines

I. Ginsburg*, R. Misgav, A. Pinson, J. Varani, P. A. Ward, R. Kohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A striking similarity exists between the pathogenetic properties of group A streptococci and those of activated mammalian professional phagocytes (neutrophils, macrophages). Both types of cells are endowed by the ability to adhere to target cells; to elaborate oxidants, hydrolases, and membrane-active agents (hemolysins, phospholipases); and to freely invade tissues and destroy cells. From the evolutionary point of view, streptococci might justifiably be considered the forefathers of "modern" leukocytes. Our earlier findings that synergy between a streptococcal hemolysin (streptolysin S, SLS) and a streptococcal thiol-dependent proteinase and between cytotoxic antibodies + complement and streptokinase-activated plasmin readily killed tumor cells, led us to hypothesize that by analogy to the pathogenetic mechanisms of streptococci, the mechanisms of tissue destruction initiated by activated leukocytes in inflammatory sites, as well as in tissues undergoing episodes of ischemia and reperfusion, might also be the result of the synergistic effects among leukocyte-derived oxidants, phospholipases, proteinases, cytokines, and cationic proteins. The current report extends our previous synergy studies with endothelial cells to two additional cell types-monkey kidney epithelial cells and rat beating heart cells. Monolayers of51Cr-labeled cells that had been treated by combinations of sublytic amounts of hydrogen peroxide (generated either by glucose oxidase, xanthine-xanthine oxidase, or by paraquat) and with sublytic amounts of a variety of membrane-active agents (streptolysin S, phospholipases A2 and C, lysophosphatides, histone, chlorhexidine) were killed in a synergistic manner (double synergy). Crystalline trypsin markedly enhanced cell killing by combinations of oxidant and the membrane-active agents (triple synergy). Injury to the cells was characterized by the appearance of large membrane blebs that detached from the cells and floated freely in the media, looking like lipid droplets. Cytotoxicity induced by the various combinations of agonists was depressed, to a large extent, by scavengers of hydrogen peroxide (catalase, dimethyl thiourea, and by Mn2+) but not by SOD or by deferoxamine. When cationic agents were employed together with hydrogen peroxide, polyanions (heparin, polyanethole sulfonate) were also found to inhibit cell killing. It is proposed that in order to effectively combat the deleterious toxic effects of leukocyte-derived agonists on cells and tissues, antagonistic "cocktails" comprised of cationized catalase, cationized SOD, dimethylthiourea, Mn2+ + glycine, proteinase inhibitors, putative inhibitors of phospholipases, and polyanions might be concocted. The current literature on synergistic phenomena pertaining to mechanisms of cell and tissue injury in inflammation is selectively reviewed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)519-538
Number of pages20
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1992


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