Klebsiella pneumoniae infection causes mitochondrial damage and dysfunction in bovine mammary epithelial cells

Abstract Klebsiella pneumoniae, an important cause of bovine mastitis worldwide, is strongly pathogenic to bovine mammary epithelial cells (bMECs). Our objective was to determine the role of mitochondrial damage in the pathogenicity of K. pneumoniae on bMECs, by assessing several classical indicators of mitochondrial dysfunction, as well as differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Two K. pneumoniae strains (HLJ-D2 and HB-AF5), isolated from cows with clinical mastitis (CM), were used to infect bMECs (MAC-T line) cultured in vitro. In whole-transcriptome analysis of bMECs at 6 h post-infection (hpi), there were 3453 up-regulated and 3470 down-regulated genes for HLJ-D2, whereas for HB-AF5, there were 2891 up-regulated and 3278 down-regulated genes (P < 0.05). Based on GO term enrichment of differentially expressed genes (DEGs), relative to the controls, the primary categories altered in K. pneumoniae-infected bMECs included cellular macromolecule metabolism, metabolic process, binding, molecular function, etc. Infections increased (P < 0.05) malondialdehyde concentrations and formation of reactive oxygen species in bMECs. Additionally, both bacterial strains decreased (P < 0.05) total antioxidant capacity in bMECs at 6 and 12 hpi. Furthermore, infections decreased (P < 0.05) mitochondrial membrane potential and increased (P < 0.01) mitochondrial calcium concentrations. Finally, severe mitochondrial swelling and vacuolation, as well as mitochondrial rupture and cristae degeneration, were detected in infected bMECs. In conclusion, K. pneumoniae infections induced profound mitochondrial damage and dysfunction in bMECs; we inferred that this caused cellular damage and contributes to the pathogenesis of K. pneumoniae-induced CM in dairy cows.
Veterinary Research. 2021 Feb 10;52(1):17