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New insights into the antimicrobial effect of mast cells against Enterococcus faecalis.Enterococcus faecalis has emerged as an important cause of life-threatening multidrug-resistant bacterial infections in the hospital setting. The pathogenesis of enterococcal infections has remained a relatively neglected field despite their obvious clinical relevance. The objective of this study was to characterize the interactions between mast cells (MCs), an innate immune cell population abundant in the intestinal lamina propria, and E. faecalis. This study was conducted with primary bone marrow-derived murine MCs. The results demonstrated that MCs exerted an antimicrobial effect against E. faecalis that was mediated both by degranulation, with the concomitant discharge of the antimicrobial effectors contained in the granules, and by the release of extracellular traps, in which E. faecalis was snared and killed. In particular, the cathelicidin LL-37 released by the MCs had potent antimicrobial effect against E. faecalis. We also investigated the specific receptors involved in the recognition of E. faecalis by MCs. We found that Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are critically involved in the MC recognition of E. faecalis, since MCs deficient in the expression of MyD88, an adaptor molecule required for signaling by most TLRs, were significantly impaired in their capacity to degranulate, to reduce E. faecalis growth as well as to release tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) after encountering this pathogen. Furthermore, TLR2 was identified as the most prominent TLR involved in the recognition of E. faecalis by MCs. The results of this study indicate that MCs may be important contributors to the host innate immune defenses against E. faecalis.