Inflammation Research

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 187–197 | Cite as

Modulins: A new class of cytokine-inducing, pro-inflammatory bacterial virulence factor

  • B. Henderson
  • M. Wilson


Despite the fact that the inflammatory and immune responses have evolved to combat microorganisms, the present generation of inflammation researchers has evinced relatively little interest, with the exception of septic shock, in microbially-induced inflammation. This in spite of the fact that the Gram-negative cell wall constituent, lipopolysaccharide, has been widely used as a tool in inflammation research. The reason for such lack of interest has been due to the therapeutic efficacy of antibiotics which are the treatment of choice for infections and their inflammatory sequelae. However, this is likely to change within the next decade or so, with the relentless increase in the incidence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This will return therapy to the stage where clinicians will have to treat the inflammatory symptoms of infection. Many of these symptoms are due to the stimulation of cytokine synthesis. The capacity of bacteria to induce cytokine synthesis has, until the past few years, centred exclusively on lipopolysaccharide. However, it has been established during the past 5–10 years that a range of other molecules, mainly associated with the surface of bacteria, have the capacity to induce cytokine production. Some of these are exquisitely potent stimulators of pro-inflammatory cytokine synthesis. The nature and mechanism of action of these various cytokine-inducing molecules, for which we have devised the namemodulins, is the subject of this review. It is clear that bacteria still have many surprises for us, as exemplified by the recent discovery of the role played byHelicobacter pylori in gastritis, gastric ulceration and gastric cancer.

Key words

Bacteria Cytokines Inflammation LPS Modulin 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Henderson
    • 2
  • M. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Microbiology Department, Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health Care SciencesUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Molecular Virulence Group, Joint Department of Maxillofacial SurgeryEastman Dental Institute and University College Hospital LondonUK

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