Dual role of hydrogen peroxide as an oxidant in pneumococcal pneumonia

Mobarak Abu Mraheil, Haroldo Alfredo Flores Toque, Luigi La Pietra, Juerg Hamacher, Tenzing Phanthok, Alexander Verin, Joyce Gonzales, Yunchao Su, David Fulton, Douglas C. Eaton, Trinad Chakraborty, Rudolf Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Significance: Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn), a facultative anaerobic Gram-positive human pathogen with increasing rates of penicillin and macrolide resistance, is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections worldwide. Pneumococci are a primary agent of severe pneumonia in children younger than 5 years and of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. A major defense mechanism toward Spn is the generation of reactive oxygen species, including hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), during the oxidative burst of neutrophils and macrophages. Paradoxically, Spn produces high endogenous levels of H2O2 as a strategy to promote colonization. Recent Advances: Pneumococci, which express neither catalase nor common regulators of peroxide stress resistance, have developed unique mechanisms to protect themselves from H2O2. Spn generates high levels of H2O2 as a strategy to promote colonization. Production of H2O2 moreover constitutes an important virulence phenotype and its cellular activities overlap and complement those of other virulence factors, such as pneumolysin, in modulating host immune responses and promoting organ injury. Critical Issues: This review examines the dual role of H2O2 in pneumococcal pneumonia, from the viewpoint of both the pathogen (defense mechanisms, lytic activity toward competing pathogens, and virulence) and the resulting host-response (inflammasome activation, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and damage to the alveolar-capillary barrier in the lungs). Future Directions: An understanding of the complexity of H2O2-mediated host-pathogen interactions is necessary to develop novel strategies that target these processes to enhance lung function during severe pneumonia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-978
Number of pages17
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 20 2021


  • ARDS
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • pneumococci
  • pneumonia
  • pyruvate oxidase
  • virulence factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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