Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and innate immune responses to bacterial infections
Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), an essential component of the antimicrobial innate immune system, is present in neutrophils and multiple other tissues. It prevents iron acquisition by microorganisms by sequestering iron-loaded bacterial siderophores. NGAL also modulates neutrophil functions. Its production is inducible following Toll-like receptor 4 activation and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. NGAL is employed clinically in the diagnosis of acute kidney injury and may be useful in general in the differential diagnosis of a bacterial-mediated infectious process. Elevated levels of NGAL have been detected in the blood of patients with bacterial urinary tract infection, community-acquired pneumonia, sepsis, as well as in the cerebrospinal fluid and peritoneal fluid of patients with bacterial meningitis and peritonitis. Some bacteria have developed resistance to NGAL-mediated iron sequestration by production of modified siderophores that are not recognized by NGAL.