Pseudomonas aeruginosa modulates neutrophil granule exocytosis in an in vitro model of airway infection

Western Australian Epithelial Research Program (WAERP), Australian Respiratory Early Surveillance Team for CF (AREST CF), Daniel R. Laucirica, Craig J. Schofield, Samantha A. McLean, Camilla Margaroli, Patricia Agudelo-Romero, Stephen M. Stick, Rabindra Tirouvanziam, Anthony Kicic, Luke W. Garratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A population of neutrophils recruited into cystic fibrosis (CF) airways is associated with proteolytic lung damage, exhibiting high expression of primary granule exocytosis marker CD63 and reduced phagocytic receptor CD16. Causative factors for this population are unknown, limiting intervention. Here we present a laboratory model to characterize responses of differentiated airway epithelium and neutrophils following respiratory infection. Pediatric primary airway epithelial cells were cultured at the air–liquid interface, challenged individually or in combination with rhinovirus (RV) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, then apically washed with medical saline to sample epithelial infection milieus. Cytokine multiplex analysis revealed epithelial antiviral signals, including IP-10 and RANTES, increased with exclusive RV infection but were diminished if P. aeruginosa was also present. Proinflammatory signals interleukin-1α and β were dominant in P. aeruginosa infection milieus. Infection washes were also applied to a published model of neutrophil transmigration into the airways. Neutrophils migrating into bacterial and viral–bacterial co-infection milieus exhibited the in vivo CF phenotype of increased CD63 expression and reduced CD16 expression, while neutrophils migrating into milieus of RV-infected or uninfected cultures did not. Individually, bacterial products lipopolysaccharide and N-formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine and isolated cytokine signals only partially activated this phenotype, suggesting that additional soluble factors in the infection microenvironment trigger primary granule release. Findings identify P. aeruginosa as a trigger of acute airway inflammation and neutrophil primary granule exocytosis, underscoring potential roles of airway microbes in prompting this neutrophil subset. Further studies are required to characterize microbes implicated in primary granule release, and identify potential therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-370
Number of pages19
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


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