Shiga-toxin-induced firm adhesion of human leukocytes to endothelium is in part mediated by heparan sulfate

Joyce Geelen, Federica Valsecchi, Thea Van Der Velden, Lambertus Van Den Heuvel, Leo Monnens, Marina Morigi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Shiga toxin (Stx) is the main pathogenic factor in the haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS). Stx damages the renal endothelium, which leads to inflammation and coagulation. Endothelial heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), and heparan sulfate in particular, play an important role in the inflammatory process by acting as a ligand for l-selectin. Furthermore, leukocytes are able to interact with chemokines bound to HSPG (examples are IL-8, RANTES and MCP-1). This leads to an activation of integrins on leukocytes and results in more stable leukocyte-endothelial wall adhesion. In this study, we have evaluated the effect of a subtoxic dose of Stx1 and Stx2 on the HSPG and its role in adhesion of leukocytes. Methods. Primary human umbilical venous endothelial cells (HUVEC) and primary human glomerular microvascular endothelial cells (GMVEC) were incubated for 24 h with a subtoxic dose of Stx1 or Stx2. Then, cells were treated with heparan sulfate-degrading enzyme heparitinase I or left untreated, followed by determination of binding leukocytes to endothelial cells in a parallel plate flow chamber. Results. In both cell types, Stx increased the amount of firmly adherent leukocytes. After removal of endothelial heparan sulfate, the number of adhering leukocytes decreased. Conclusions. HSPG have a distinctive role in adhesion of leukocytes to endothelial cells stimulated by a subtoxic dose of Stx.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3091-3095
Number of pages5
JournalNephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Endothelial cells
  • Haemolytic-uraemic syndrome
  • Heparan sulfate proteoglycans
  • Leukocytes
  • Shiga toxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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