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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00312

Interaction of the human contact system with pathogens - an update

 Sonja Oehmcke-Hecht1* and Juliane Köhler1
  • 1University Medicine, University of Rostock, Germany

The name human contact system is related to its mode of action, as "contact" with artificial negatively charged surfaces triggers its activation. Today it is generally believed that the contact system is an inflammatory response mechanism - not only against artificial material - but also against misfolded proteins and foreign organisms. Upon activation, the contact system is involved in at least two distinct (patho)physiologic processes: i. the trigger of the intrinsic coagulation via factor XI ii. the cleavage of high molecular weight kininogen with release of bradykinin and antimicrobial peptides. Bradykinin is involved in the regulation of inflammatory processes, vascular permeability, and blood pressure. Due to the release of antimicrobial peptides the contact system is regarded as a branch of the innate immune defense against microorganisms. There is an increasing list of pathogens who interact with contact factors, in addition to bacteria also fungi and viruses bind and activate the system. In spite of that, pathogens have developed their own mechanisms to activate the contact system, resulting in manipulation of this host immune response.
In this up-to-date review, we summarize present research on the interaction of pathogens with the human contact system, focusing particularly on bacterial and viral mechanisms that trigger inflammation via contact system activation.

Keywords: : contact system, Bradykinin, Inflammation, Infection, pathogen

Received: 17 Nov 2017; Accepted: 05 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Christoph Thiemermann, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Elsa Anes, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Krzysztof Guzik, Jagiellonian University, Poland  

Copyright: © 2018 Oehmcke-Hecht and Köhler. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sonja Oehmcke-Hecht, University of Rostock, University Medicine, Schillingallee 70, Rostock, 18057, Germany,