Binge drinking is associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of pneumonic melioidosis can occur in healthy humans; however, binge alcohol intoxication is a major risk factor. Previous findings indicate that a single binge alcohol episode increases Burkholderia spp. infection by reducing alveolar macrophage function. The aim of this study was to test the ability of the phytonutrient sulforaphane (SFN) to rescue the phagocytic function of alveolar macrophages when infected with Burkholderia spp. in vitro. B. thailandensis E264 was used as a useful BSL-1 model to determine the effects of SFN pre-treatment. The primary outcome was macrophage phagocytic killing, while the secondary outcome was the nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like (Nrf2) signaling response measured by western blot analysis. Results indicate that alveolar macrophages pre-treated with SFN (5 M) and challenged with 0.2% (v/v) alcohol for 3 or 8 h prior to live B. thailandensis infection improved intracellular killing of B. thailandensis ~2-fold compared to MH-S cells treated with alcohol alone. These data demonstrate that SFN may be an effective pre-treatment option to prevent alcohol mediated immune dysfunction and restore macrophage phagocytic killing of Burkholderia spp. and other similar opportunistic pathogens.
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