Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Medical Microbiology and Immunology

Major Professor

Burt Anderson, Ph.D.


Cat scratch disease, Bartonellosis, Bacillary angiomatosis, Apoptosis, Chemokines, CXCL8, MCP-1


Bacillary angiomatosis (BA), one of the clinical manifestations resulting from infection with the facultative intracellular bacterium Bartonella henselae, is characterized by angiogenic lesions. Endothelial cells have been identified as host cells for this pathogen and are presumed important for pathogenesis as lesions contain bacteria in direct contact with the endothelium. Lesions also contain infiltrating macrophages, which contribute to the angiogenic process during B. henselae infection by secreting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). While virulence factors have been characterized, and the role for macrophages in B. henselae infection has been established, endothelial cell mediators of angiogenesis have not been well defined. We investigated three potentially important pathways that are triggered by the bacterial interactions with endothelial cells. We examined the ability of endothelial cells to upregulate the chemokines monocyte-macrophage chemoattracta

nt protein-1 (MCP-1) and CXCL8 and the mechanism by which B. henselae secreted proteins (BHSP) induce endothelial cell proliferation. We determined that MCP-1 production is upregulated in response to B. henselae infection, which very likely contributes to angiogenic lesion formation by recruiting the VEGF-secreting macrophage. The chemokine CXCL8 is an important mediator of angiogenesis which can cause endothelial cell survival, proliferation, and capillary tube formation. We determined that CXCL8 is secreted from B. henselae-infected cells and contributes to B. henselae-induced angiogenesis in an autocrine manner. We also investigated the role of Ca2+ signaling during B. henselae infection. We determined that BHSP induce a robust intracellular Ca2+ response in HUVEC which originates from intracellular Ca2+ pools. Additionally, endothelial cell proliferation in response to BHSP required Ca2+ activity, indicating a role for intracellular Ca2+ pools during B. henselae-induced angio

genesis. Endothelial cell proliferation during B. henselae infection possibly indicates a mechanism by which a pathogen induces proliferation of its host cell in order to propagate its own survival. Numerous factors culminate in the vascular lesions that are characteristic of BA. B. henselae infection represents an important and unique model for pathogen-triggered angiogenesis, and studies into the specific mechanisms of this process may elucidate host cell-pathogen interactions as well as pathways of pathogenic angiogenesis.