The Microbial Endocrinology of Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Inflammatory and Immune Perspectives

  • Valerie F. L. Yong
  • Min Min Soh
  • Tavleen Kaur Jaggi
  • Micheál Mac Aogáin
  • Sanjay H. Chotirmall


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major pathogen responsible for both acute and chronic infection. Known as a colonising pathogen of the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung, it is implicated in other settings such as bronchiectasis. It has the ability to cause acute disseminated or localised infection particularly in the immunocompromised. Human hormones have been highlighted as potential regulators of bacterial virulence through crosstalk between analogous “quorum sensing” (QS) systems present in the bacteria that respond to mammalian hormones. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is known to utilise interconnected QS systems to coordinate its virulence and evade various aspects of the host immune system activated in response to infection. Several human hormones demonstrate an influence on P. aeruginosa growth and virulence. This inter-kingdom signalling, termed “microbial endocrinology” has important implications for host–microbe interaction during infection and, potentially opens up novel avenues for therapeutic intervention. This phenomenon, supported by the existence of sexual dichotomies in both microbial infection and chronic lung diseases such as CF is potentially explained by sex hormones and their influence on the infective process. This review summarises our current understanding of the microbial endocrinology of P. aeruginosa, including its endogenous QS systems and their intersection with human endocrinology, pathogenesis of infection and the host immune system.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa Endocrinology Sex hormones Immunology Quorum sensing 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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© L. Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Wroclaw, Poland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Translational Respiratory Research Laboratory, Lee Kong Chian School of MedicineNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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