Aberrant immune programming in neutrophils in cystic fibrosis

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Journal of Leukocyte Biology


Cystic fibrosis is a life-shortening genetic disorder, caused by mutations in the gene that encodes cystic fibrosis transmembrane-conductance regulator, a cAMP-activated chloride and bicarbonate channel. Persistent neutrophilic inflammation is a major contributor to cystic fibrosis lung disease. However, how cystic fibrosis transmembrane-conductance regulator loss of function leads to excessive inflammation and its clinical sequela remains incompletely understood. In this study, neutrophils from F508del-CF and healthy control participants were compared for gene transcription. We found that cystic fibrosis circulating neutrophils have a prematurely primed basal state with significantly higher scores for activation, chemotaxis, immune signaling, and pattern recognition. Such an irregular basal state appeared not related to the blood environment and was also observed in neutrophils derived from the F508del-CF HL-60 cell line, indicating an innate characteristic of the phenotype. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) stimulation drastically shifted the transcriptional landscape of healthy control neutrophils toward a robust immune response; however, cystic fibrosis neutrophils were immune-exhausted, reflected by abnormal cell aging and fate determination in gene programming. Moreover, cystic fibrosis sputum neutrophils differed significantly from cystic fibrosis circulating neutrophils in gene transcription with increased inflammatory response, aging, apoptosis, and necrosis, suggesting additional environmental influences on the neutrophils in cystic fibrosis lungs. Taken together, our data indicate that loss of cystic fibrosis transmembrane-conductance regulator function has intrinsic effects on neutrophil immune programming, leading to premature priming and dysregulated response to challenge.

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