During bacterial infections of the airways, a Th1-profiled inflammation promotes the production of several host defense proteins and peptides with antibacterial activities including ?-defensins, ELR-negative CXC-chemokines, and the cathelicidin LL-37. These are down-regulated by Th2 cytokines of the allergic response. Instead, the eosinophil-recruiting chemokines eotaxin-1/CCL11, eotaxin-2/CCL24, and eotaxin-3/CCL26 are expressed. This study set out to investigate if these chemokines could serve as innate host defense molecules during allergic inflammation.
Innate defence mechanisms of the airways are impaired in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), predisposing patients to lower respiratory tract infections, but less is known about the association with other infections. In this population-based cohort study, we investigated the associations between COPD and invasive bacterial disease by comparing incidence rates of bacteraemia in COPD patients and randomly selected reference individuals from the general population.
Staphylococcus aureus is sometimes isolated from the airways during acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but more commonly recognized as a cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Antimicrobial proteins, among them midkine (MK), are an important part of innate immunity in the airways. In this study, the levels and possible processing of MK in relation to S. aureus infection of the airways were investigated, comparing COPD and VAP, thus comparing a state of disease with preceding chronic inflammation and remodeling (COPD) with acute inflammation (i.e. VAP). MK was detected in the small airways and alveoli of COPD lung tissue but less so in normal lung tissue. MK at below micromolar concentrations killed S. aureus in vitro. Proteolytic processing of MK by the staphylococcal metalloprotease AL but not cysteine protease SA, resulted in impaired bactericidal activity. Degradation was foremost seen in the COOH-terminal portion of the molecule that harbors high bactericidal activity. In addition, MK was detected in sputum from patients suffering from VAP caused by S. aureus but less so in sputum from COPD-exacerbations associated with the same bacterium. Recombinant MK was degraded more rapidly in sputum from the COPD patients than from the VAP patients and a greater proteolytic activity in COPD sputum was confirmed by zymography. Taken together, proteases of both bacteria and the host contribute to degradation of the antibacterial protein MK, resulting in an impaired defense of the airways, in particular in COPD where the state of chronic inflammation could be of importance.
Mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene result in impaired host defense during cystic fibrosis (CF), where Pseudomonas aeruginosa becomes a key pathogen. We investigated the expression pattern of the antibacterial growth factor midkine (MK) in CF and the possible interference with its activity by the altered airway microenvironment. High MK expression was found in CF lung tissue compared with control samples, involving epithelia of the large and small airways, alveoli, and cells of the submucosa (i.e., neutrophils and mast cells). In CF sputum, MK was present at 100-fold higher levels, but was also subject to increased degradation, compared with MK in sputum from healthy control subjects. MK exerted a bactericidal effect on P. aeruginosa, but increasing salt concentrations and low pH impaired this activity. Molecular modeling suggested that the effects of salt and pH were attributable to electrostatic screening and a charge-neutralization of the membrane, respectively. Both the neutrophil elastase and elastase of P. aeruginosa cleaved MK to smaller fragments, resulting in impaired bactericidal activity. Thus, MK is highly expressed in CF, but its bactericidal properties may be impaired by the altered microenvironment, as reflected by the in vitro conditions used in this study.
To resist infections, robust defense mechanisms of the airways are essential. Retinoic acid promotes differentiation and maintains the phenotypic characteristics of bronchial epithelium. In addition, it induces the expression of the antibacterial growth factor midkine (MK). In the present study, we explored the expression and antibacterial activity of MK in an airway context. MK was detected in bronchial epithelial cells of large airways and type 2 pneumocytes of normal lungs by immunohistochemistry. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed a surface-associated distribution, both on the ciliated apical and basolateral sides, and MK was detected in sputum obtained from healthy individuals by ELISA. In vitro, MK killed the common respiratory pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae at below micromolar concentrations, an activity retained in the presence of sodium chloride at physiological concentrations. The MK molecule consists of two domains with three anti-parallel ?-sheets and a COOH-terminal tail. Although both the NH2- and COOH-terminal domains alone showed antibacterial activity, the COOH-terminal domain including the tail region possessed higher bactericidal activity, i.e. in the order of the holoprotein. Retinoic acid-induced differentiation of primary bronchial epithelial cells, using an air-liquid interface system, revealed bactericidal activity in the apical airway surface liquid, an activity that was reduced after immunoprecipitation of MK. This study shows that airway epithelial cells of large airways and alveoli have a constitutive production of MK that is part of the bactericidal activity present in the air surface liquid, at least in vitro, and may thus be an important part of this arm of airway host defense.
Chemokines and chemokine receptor-mediated effects are important mediators of the immunological response and cure in human leishmaniasis. However, in addition to their signalling properties for leukocytes, many chemokines have also been shown to act directly as antimicrobial peptides on bacteria and fungi. We screened ten human chemokines (CXCL2, CXCL6, CXCL8, CXCL9, CXCL10, CCL2, CCL3, CCL20, CCL27, CCL28) for antimicrobial effects on the promastigote form of the protozoan parasite Leishmania mexicana, and observed direct parasiticidal effects of several, CCL28 being the most potent. Damage to the plasma membrane integrity could be visualised by entrance of propidium iodide, as measured with flow cytometry, and by scanning electron microscopy, which showed morphological changes and aggregation of cells. The findings were in concordance with parasiticidal activity, measured by decreased mitochondrial activity in an MTT-assay. This is the first report of direct antimicrobial activity by chemokines on parasites. This component of immunity against Leishmania parasites identified here warrants further investigation that might lead to new insight in the mechanisms of human infection and/or new therapeutic approaches.
Bacterial colonization of the lower respiratory tract is frequently seen in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and may cause exacerbations leading to disease progression. Antimicrobial peptides comprise an important part of innate lung immunity, and not least the cathelicidin human cationic antimicrobial protein-18/LL-37. Peptidylarginine deiminases (PADIs) post-translationally modify proteins by converting cationic peptidylarginine residues to neutral peptidylcitrulline. An increased presence of PADI2 and citrullinated proteins was demonstrated in the lungs of smokers. In this study, preformed PADI4, stored in granulocytes and extracellularly in the lumina of bronchi, was found in lung tissue of individuals suffering from COPD. In vitro, recombinant human PADI2 and PADI4 both caused a time- and dose-dependent citrullination of LL-37. The citrullination resulted in impaired antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and nontypable Haemophilus influenzae, but less so against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Using artificial lipid bilayers, we observed discrete differences when comparing the disrupting activity of native and citrullinated LL-37, suggesting that differences in cell wall composition are important during interactions with whole bacteria. Furthermore, citrullinated LL-37 showed higher chemotactic activity against mononuclear leukocytes than did native LL-37, but was less efficient at neutralizing lipolysaccharide, and also in converting apoptotic neutrophils into a state of secondary necrosis. In addition, citrullinated LL-37 was more prone to degradation by proteases, whereas the V8 endopetidase of S. aureus cleaved the modified peptide at additional sites, compared with native LL-37. Together, these findings demonstrate novel mechanisms whereby the inflammation-dependent deiminases PADI2 and PADI4 can alter the activites of antibacterial polypeptides, affecting the course of inflammatory disorders such as COPD.
Epithelial linings serve as physical barriers and produce antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) to maintain host integrity. Examples are the bactericidal proteins midkine (MK) and BRAK/CXCL14 that are constitutively produced in the skin epidermal layer, where the anaerobic Gram-positive coccoid commensal Finegoldia magna resides. Consequently, this bacterium is likely to encounter both MK and BRAK/CXCL14, making these molecules possible threats to its habitat. In this study, we show that MK expression is upregulated during inflammation, concomitant with a strong downregulation of BRAK/CXCL14, resulting in changed antibacterial conditions. MK, BRAK/CXCL14, and the inflammation-dependent antimicrobial ?-defensins human ?-defensin (hBD)-2 and hBD-3 all showed bactericidal activity against both F. magna and the virulent pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes at similar concentrations. SufA, a released protease of F. magna, degraded MK and BRAK/CXCL14 but not hBD-2 nor hBD-3. Cleavage was seen at lysine and arginine residues, amino acids characteristic of AMPs. Intermediate SufA-degraded fragments of MK and BRAK/CXCL14 showed stronger bactericidal activity against S. pyogenes than F. magna, thus promoting survival of the latter. In contrast, the cysteine-protease SpeB of S. pyogenes rapidly degraded all AMPs investigated. The proteins FAF and SIC, released by F. magna and S. pyogenes, respectively, neutralized the antibacterial activity of MK and BRAK/CXCL14, protein FAF being the most efficient. Quantitation and colocalization by immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated significant levels and interactions of the molecules in in vivo and ex vivo samples. The findings reflect strategies used by a permanently residing commensal and a virulent pathogen, the latter operating during the limited time course of invasive disease.
Human serum albumin (HSA) is the dominating protein in human plasma. Many bacterial species, especially streptococci, express surface proteins that bind HSA with high specificity and affinity, but the biological consequences of these protein-protein interactions are poorly understood. Group G streptococci (GGS), carrying the HSA-binding protein G, colonize the skin and the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, mostly without causing disease. In the case of bacterial invasion, pro-inflammatory cytokines are released that activate the epithelium to produce antibacterial peptides, in particular the chemokine MIG/CXCL9. In addition, the inflammation causes capillary leakage and extravasation of HSA and other plasma proteins, environmental changes at the epithelial surface to which the bacteria need to respond. In this study, we found that GGS adsorbed HSA from both saliva and plasma via binding to protein G and that HSA bound to protein G bound and inactivated the antibacterial MIG/CXCL9 peptide. Another surface protein of GGS, FOG, was found to mediate adherence of the bacteria to pharyngeal epithelial cells through interaction with glycosaminoglycans. This adherence was not affected by activation of the epithelium with a combination of IFN-? and TNF-?, leading to the production of MIG/CXCL9. However, at the activated epithelial surface, adherent GGS were protected against killing by MIG/CXCL9 through protein G-dependent HSA coating. The findings identify a previously unknown bacterial survival strategy that helps to explain the evolution of HSA-binding proteins among bacterial species of the normal human microbiota.
MIG/CXCL9 belongs to the CXC family of chemokines and participates in the regulation of leukocyte-trafficking and angiogenesis. Certain chemokines, including human MIG/CXCL9, exert strong antibacterial activity in vitro, although the importance of this property in vivo is unknown. In the present study, we investigated the expression and a possible role for MIG/CXCL9 in host defense during mucosal airway infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in vivo. We found that intranasal challenge of C57BL/6 wild-type mice with pneumococci elicited production of high levels of MIG/CXCL9 in the lungs via the MyD88-dependent signaling pathway. Whereas both human and murine MIG/CXCL9 showed efficient killing of S. pneumoniae in vitro, MIG/CXCL9 knock-out mice were not more susceptible to pneumococcal infection. Our data demonstrate that, in vivo this chemokine probably has a redundant role, acting together with other antibacterial peptides and chemokines, in innate and adaptive host defense mechanisms against pneumococcal infections.
Antibacterial peptides of the innate immune system combat pathogenic microbes, but often have additional roles in promoting inflammation and as growth factors during tissue repair. Midkine (MK) and pleiotrophin (PTN) are the only two members of a family of heparin-binding growth factors. They show restricted expression during embryogenesis and are up-regulated in neoplasia. In addition, MK shows constitutive and inflammation-dependent expression in some non-transformed tissues of the adult. In the present study, we show that both MK and PTN display strong antibacterial activity, present at physiological salt concentrations. Electron microscopy of bacteria and experiments using artificial lipid bilayers suggest that MK and PTN exert their antibacterial action via a membrane disruption mechanism. The predicted structure of PTN, employing the previously solved MK structure as a template, indicates that both molecules consist of two domains, each containing three antiparallel beta-sheets. The antibacterial activity was mapped to the unordered C-terminal tails of both molecules and the last beta-sheets of the N-terminals. Analysis of the highly conserved MK and PTN orthologues from the amphibian Xenopus laevis and the fish Danio rerio suggests that they also harbor antibacterial activity in the corresponding domains. In support of an evolutionary conserved function it was found that the more distant orthologue, insect Miple2 from Drosophila melanogaster, also displays strong antibacterial activity. Taken together, the findings suggest that MK and PTN, in addition to their earlier described activities, may have previously unrealized important roles as innate antibiotics.
Both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and tuberculosis (TB) primarily affect the lungs and are major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. COPD and TB have common risk factors such as smoking, low socioeconomic status and dysregulation of host defence functions. COPD is a prevalent co-morbid condition, especially in elderly with TB but in contrast to other diseases known to increase the risk of TB, relatively little is known about the specific relationship and impact from COPD on TB-incidence and mortality.
The anaerobic bacterium Finegoldia magna is part of the human commensal microbiota, but is also an important opportunistic pathogen. This bacterium expresses a subtilisin-like serine proteinase, SufA, which partially degrade the antibacterial chemokine MIG/CXCL9. Here, we show that MIG/CXCL9 is produced by human keratinocytes in response to inflammatory stimuli. In contrast to the virulent human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, the presence of F. magna had no enhancing effect on the MIG/CXCL9 expression by keratinocytes, suggesting poor detection of the latter by pathogen-recognition receptors. When MIG/CXCL9 was exposed to SufA-expressing F. magna, the molecule was processed into several smaller fragments. Analysis by mass spectrometry showed that SufA cleaves MIG/CXCL9 at several sites in the COOH-terminal region of the molecule. At equimolar concentrations, SufA-generated MIG/CXCL9 fragments were not bactericidal against F. magna, but retained their ability to kill S. pyogenes. Moreover, the SufA-generated MIG/CXCL9 fragments were capable of activating the angiostasis-mediating CXCR3 receptor, which is expressed on endothelial cells, in an order of magnitude similar to that of intact MIG/CXCL9. F. magna expresses a surface protein called FAF that is released from the bacterial surface by SufA. Soluble FAF was found to bind and inactivate the antibacterial activity of MIG/CXCL9, thereby further potentially promoting the survival of F. magna. The findings suggest that SufA modulation of the inflammatory response could be a mechanism playing an important role in creating an ecologic niche for F. magna, decreasing antibacterial activity and suppressing angiogenesis, thus providing advantage in survival for this anaerobic opportunist compared with competing pathogens during inflammation.
The Swedish National Inpatient Registry is an important source of data for numerous epidemiological studies, amongst them studies on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). General validation studies indicate that in general 85-95% of diagnoses reported are correct, but this is not true for all groups of diseases, why specific validation studies are of great importance.
When pathogenic bacteria breach the epithelial lining at mucosal surfaces, rapidly available innate immune mechanisms are critical to halt the infection. In the present study, we characterized the production of antibacterial polypeptides released by epithelial cells. IFN-?, but neither TNF nor IL-1? alone, induced release of antibacterial activity to a cell culture medium, causing a lytic appearance of killed bacteria as revealed by electron microscopy. Addition of the protein streptococcal inhibitor of complement, derived from Streptococcus pyogenes, known for its ability to neutralize antimicrobial polypeptides (AMPs), reduced the antibacterial activity of the medium. Characterization of the antibacterial incubation medium using mass spectrometric approaches and ELISAs, displayed presence of several classical AMPs, antibacterial chemokines, as well as complement factors and proteases that may interfere with bacterial killing. Many were constitutively produced, that is, being released by cells incubated in a medium alone. While a combination of IFN-? and TNF did not increase bacterial killing, the presence of TNF boosted the amounts and detectable number of AMPs, including antibacterial chemokines. However, the methods applied in the study failed to single out certain AMPs as critical mediators, but rather demonstrate the broad range of molecules involved. Since many AMPs are highly amphiphatic in nature (i.e., cationic and hydrophobic), it is possible that difficulties in optimizing recovery present limitations in the context investigated. The findings demonstrate that epithelial cells have a constitutive production of AMPs and that IFN-? is an important inducer of an antibacterial response in which is likely to be a critical part of the innate host defense against pathogenic bacteria at mucosal surfaces.
The skin encounters many potential pathogens present in the environment, where Candida spp. are among the most common causes of fungal infestation. Midkine (MK) is a heparin-binding growth factor that is constitutively produced in the epidermis and this study looks at the antifungal activity of MK, potential co-localization and mode of action of MK.
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