Neutrophilic inflammation is a key effector arm of the innate immune response. Neutrophils may contribute significantly to airway inflammation in certain asthma subtypes. The objective of this study is to investigate the innate immune responses of isolated airway and circulating neutrophils in asthma. Participants with asthma (n = 17) and healthy volunteers (n = 11) underwent induced sputum and blood collection. Neutrophils were isolated from dispersed selected sputum and blood granulocytes using magnetic cell separation. Neutrophils were cultured with or without lipopolysaccharide (100 ng/mL) for 24 hours. Innate immune mediators were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Airway neutrophils from participants with asthma spontaneously released lower levels of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α proteins, and had lower levels of cytokine gene expression compared to healthy controls. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) gene expression was significantly decreased in airway neutrophils from participants with asthma compared to healthy volunteers. Resting and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated circulating neutrophils had lower levels of TLR2 and IL-1β gene expression in asthma, but were otherwise similar to healthy controls. No differences were seen for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 release in asthma. Innate immune responses of airway neutrophil cells are impaired in asthmatic subjects on prophylactic therapy and may impact on susceptibility to, and severity of, airway infections.
Experimental Lung Research Vol. 35, Issue 7, p. 554-569