Pneumococcus Infection of Primary Human Endothelial Cells in Constant Flow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Interaction of Streptococcus pneumoniae with the surface of endothelial cells is mediated in blood flow via mechanosensitive proteins such as the Von Willebrand Factor (VWF). This glycoprotein changes its molecular conformation in response to shear stress, thereby exposing binding sites for a broad spectrum of host-ligand interactions. In general, culturing of primary endothelial cells under a defined shear flow is known to promote the specific cellular differentiation and the formation of a stable and tightly linked endothelial layer resembling the physiology of the inner lining of a blood vessel. Thus, the functional analysis of interactions between bacterial pathogens and the host vasculature involving mechanosensitive proteins requires the establishment of pump systems that can simulate the physiological flow forces known to affect the surface of vascular cells. The microfluidic device used in this study enables a continuous and pulseless recirculation of fluids with a defined flow rate. The computer-controlled air-pressure pump system applies a defined shear stress on endothelial cell surfaces by generating a continuous, unidirectional, and controlled medium flow. Morphological changes of the cells and bacterial attachment can be microscopically monitored and quantified in the flow by using special channel slides that are designed for microscopic visualization. In contrast to static cell culture infection, which in general requires a sample fixation prior to immune labeling and microscopic analyses, the microfluidic slides enable both the fluorescence-based detection of proteins, bacteria, and cellular components after sample fixation; serial immunofluorescence staining; and direct fluorescence-based detection in real time. In combination with fluorescent bacteria and specific fluorescence-labeled antibodies, this infection procedure provides an efficient multiple component visualization system for a huge spectrum of scientific applications related to vascular processes.


  • Hilger Jagau
  • Ina Kristin Behrens
  • Michael Steinert
  • Simone Bergmann
External organisations
  • Technical University of Braunschweig
  • Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich
  • Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60323
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number152
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch