Platelet Activation and Aggregation Induced by Streptococcus bovis/Streptococcus equinus Complex

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Streptococcus bovis/Streptococcus equinus complex (SBSEC) is a common cause of infective endocarditis (IE). For IE-pathogens, the capacity to activate and aggregate platelets is believed to be an important virulence mechanism. While the interactions between bacteria and platelets have been described in detail for many Gram-positive pathogens, little research has been carried out with SBSEC in this respect. Twenty-six isolates of the four most common species and subspecies of SBSEC identified in bacteremia were collected, and interactions with platelets were investigated in platelet rich plasma (PRP) from three donors. Aggregation was studied using light-transmission aggregometry and platelet activation using flow cytometry detecting surface upregulation of CD62P. Platelets and serum were treated with different inhibitors to determine mechanisms involved in platelet aggregation and activation. Twenty-two of 26 isolates induced aggregation in at least one donor, and four isolates induced aggregation in all three donors. In PRP from donor 1, isolate SL1 induced a rapid aggregation with a median time of 70 s to reach 50% aggregation. Blockade of the platelet Fc-receptor or enzymatic cleavage of IgG abolished platelet activation and aggregation. The capacity for bacteria-induced platelet aggregation was also shown to be transferable between donors through serum. SBSEC mediates platelet aggregation in an IgG and IgG-Fc-receptor dependent manner. Bacterial activation of platelets through this pathway is common for many bacteria causing IE and could be a potential therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of this infection. IMPORTANCE The capacity of bacteria to activate and aggregate platelets is believed to contribute to the pathogenesis of IE. The Streptococcus bovis/Streptococcus equinus complex (SBSEC) contains known IE-pathogens, but there is limited research on the different subspecies ability to interact with platelets and what signaling pathways are involved. This study reports that 22 of 26 tested isolates of different subspecies within SBSEC can induce aggregation, and that aggregation is host dependent. The Fc-IgG-receptor pathway was shown essential for platelet activation and aggregation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that reports on platelet interactions of SBSEC-isolates other than Streptococcus gallolyticus subspecies gallolyticus as well as the first study to report of mechanisms of platelet interaction of SBSEC-isolates. It adds SBSEC to a group of bacteria that activate and aggregate platelets via the platelet Fc-receptor. This could be a potential therapeutic target for prevention of IE.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0186122
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number6
Early online date2022 Nov 14
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec 21

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Infectious Medicine
  • Microbiology in the medical area

Free keywords

  • Streptococcus bovis/Streptococcus equinuscomplex
  • infective endocarditis
  • platelet activation
  • acteria-platelet interactions
  • subspecies
  • IgG-Fc-receptor


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