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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • cathelicidins;
  • eosinophil cationic proteins;
  • human primary eosinophils;
  • leukotrienes

Abstract

Background

Eosinophils and their products, including leukotrienes and eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), are well-known mediators of inflammation and tissue damage in asthma. The antimicrobial peptide LL-37 exhibits a variety of immunomodulatory activities. However, the role of LL-37 in asthma has not been fully addressed. Here, we aim to investigate the effect of LL-37 on inducing inflammatory mediators in human eosinophils, probe the underlying mechanisms, and search for a clinical correlate.

Methods

Primary eosinophils were isolated from peripheral blood. Leukotriene and ECP levels were measured using EIAs or ELISAs. Activation of leukotriene-synthesizing enzymes and signaling kinases was analyzed by Western blot or immunofluorescent imaging. LL-37/its proform hCAP18 expression was analyzed by Western blot.

Results

LL-37, via formyl peptide receptor-2 (FPR-2), triggered the release of cysteinyl leukotrienes (cys-LTs) from eosinophils. The release was more prominent in cells primed with the eosinophilopoietic cytokine GM-CSF or IL-5 or cells from asthmatic patients. LL-37 stimulates lipid body formation and activates cys-LT-synthesizing enzymes by multiple mechanisms: enhancing cPLA2 activity by pERK1/2-mediated phosphorylation and inducing intracellular translocation and assembly of 5-LO and LTC4S at perinuclear locations and lipid bodies. In addition to cys-LTs, LL-37 enhances ECP release from eosinophils via pERK1/2. The expression of hCAP18 and its release following leukotriene stimulation are significantly higher in eosinophils from asthmatics.

Conclusions

This study identifies LL-37 as an eosinophil-activating peptide that triggers release of inflammatory mediators. The clinical correlation suggests that LL-37/hCAP18 and its signaling pathway represent potential therapeutic targets for this disease.