Fever-like temperature impacts on Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa interaction, physiology, and virulence both in vitro and in vivo

E. C. Solar Venero, M. B. Galeano, A. Luqman, M. M. Ricardi, F. Serral, D. Fernandez Do Porto, S. A. Robaldi, B. A.Z. Ashari, T. H. Munif, D. E. Egoburo, S. Nemirovsky, J. Escalante, B. Nishimura, M. S. Ramirez, F. Götz, P. M. Tribelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) cause a wide variety of bacterial infections and coinfections, showing a complex interaction that involves the production of different metabolites and metabolic changes. Temperature is a key factor for bacterial survival and virulence and within the host, bacteria could be exposed to an increment in temperature during fever development. We analyzed the previously unexplored effect of fever-like temperatures (39 °C) on S. aureus USA300 and P. aeruginosa PAO1 microaerobic mono- and co-cultures compared with 37 °C, by using RNAseq and physiological assays including in vivo experiments. Results: In general terms both temperature and co-culturing had a strong impact on both PA and SA with the exception of the temperature response of monocultured PA. We studied metabolic and virulence changes in both species. Altered metabolic features at 39 °C included arginine biosynthesis and the periplasmic glucose oxidation in S. aureus and P. aeruginosa monocultures respectively. When PA co-cultures were exposed at 39 °C, they upregulated ethanol oxidation-related genes along with an increment in organic acid accumulation. Regarding virulence factors, monocultured SA showed an increase in the mRNA expression of the agr operon and hld, pmsα, and pmsβ genes at 39 °C. Supported by mRNA data, we performed physiological experiments and detected and increment in hemolysis, staphyloxantin production, and a decrease in biofilm formation at 39 °C. On the side of PA monocultures, we observed an increase in extracellular lipase and protease and biofilm formation at 39 °C along with a decrease in the motility in correlation with changes observed at mRNA abundance. Additionally, we assessed host–pathogen interaction both in vitro and in vivo. S. aureus monocultured at 39οC showed a decrease in cellular invasion and an increase in IL-8—but not in IL-6—production by A549 cell line. PA also decreased its cellular invasion when monocultured at 39 °C and did not induce any change in IL-8 or IL-6 production. PA strongly increased cellular invasion when co-cultured at 37 and 39 °C. Finally, we observed increased lethality in mice intranasally inoculated with S. aureus monocultures pre-incubated at 39 °C and even higher levels when inoculated with co-cultures. The bacterial burden for P. aeruginosa was higher in liver when the mice were infected with co-cultures previously incubated at 39 °C comparing with 37 °C. Conclusions: Our results highlight a relevant change in the virulence of bacterial opportunistic pathogens exposed to fever-like temperatures in presence of competitors, opening new questions related to bacteria-bacteria and host–pathogen interactions and coevolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • Interaction
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Temperature
  • Virulence


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