Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Richard Bucala

Second Advisor

Vincent Quagliarello


Streptococcus pneumoniae[italicized everytime] (S. pneumoniae) causes a spectrum of disease severity, and human host factors likely play a role in this variation. One candidate factor is macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine and upstream regulator of innate immunity. The MIF[italicized when not in parenthesis] promoter contains two functional polymorphisms, a tetranucleotide (CATT) repeat such that MIF expression increases with repeat number from 5-8 and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) leading to a G-to-C transition, which results in increased MIF expression in cell line reporter assays. Emerging data suggest an association between high-expression MIF alleles and inflammatory disease. This study comprised two parts. For the in vitro portion, we hypothesized that peripheral blood monocytic cells (pBMCs) cultured from healthy individuals with low-expressing MIF genotypes (5-CATT alleles or SNP-GG) would have lower MIF content and release than those from individuals with high-expressing MIF genotypes (7-CATT or SNP-C alleles). For the in vivo study, we hypothesized that individuals with low-expressing MIF genotypes would have less severe systemic inflammatory responses than individuals with high-expressing MIF genotypes in response to S. pneumoniae infection. Blood samples and chart findings were collected prospectively at three Connecticut hospitals from 30 inpatients with documented invasive S. pneumoniae infections. Genomic DNA was isolated from host blood, amplified, and genotyped using fragment analysis (CATT repeat) and allelic discrimination (SNP) methods. Fishers exact tests were used to compare genotypes and disease severity. For the in vitro experiments, there were no differences observed in serum MIF levels or MIF content or release from pBMCs based on MIF genotype. In the cohort of patients infected with S. pneumoniae, serum MIF levels among enrolled subjects were significantly higher than the reported normal values, but levels did not vary with genotype or disease severity. The SNP genotype was not correlated with disease severity or occurrence of meningitis. The CATT genotype did not correlate significantly with disease severity or occurrence of meningitis, although there was a trend suggesting an association between the 7-CATT allele and meningitis (p = 0.1188, 8% without meningitis had a 7-CATT allele vs. 40% with meningitis). More patient samples will need to be analyzed in order to definitively elucidate the role of MIF genetics in infection with S. pneumoniae