During pulmonary infections, a careful balance between activation of protective host defense mechanisms and potentially injurious inflammatory processes must be maintained. Surfactant protein A (SP-A) is an immune modulator that increases pathogen uptake and clearance by phagocytes while minimizing lung inflammation by limiting dendritic cell (DC) and T cell activation. Recent publications have shown that SP-A binds to and is bacteriostatic for Mycoplasma pneumoniae in vitro. In vivo, SP-A aids in maintenance of airway homeostasis during M. pneumoniae pulmonary infection by preventing an overzealous proinflammatory response mediated by TNF-α. Although SP-A was shown to inhibit maturation of DCs in vitro, the consequence of DC/SP-A interactions in vivo has not been elucidated. In this article, we show that the absence of SP-A during M. pneumoniae infection leads to increased numbers of mature DCs in the lung and draining lymph nodes during the acute phase of infection and, consequently, increased numbers of activated T and B cells during the course of infection. The findings that glycyrrhizin, a specific inhibitor of extracellular high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB-1) abrogated this effect and that SP-A inhibits HMGB-1 release from immune cells suggest that SP-A inhibits M. pneumoniae-induced DC maturation by regulating HMGB-1 cytokine activity.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is an extracellular pathogen that colonizes mucosal surfaces of the respiratory tract and is associated with asthma exacerbations. Previous reports demonstrate that surfactant protein-A (SP-A) binds live M. pneumoniae and mycoplasma membrane fractions (MMF) with high affinity. Humans express a repertoire of single-amino acid genetic variants of SP-A that may be associated with lung disease, and our findings demonstrate that allelic differences in SP-A2 (Gln223Lys) affect the binding to MMF. We show that SP-A(-/-) mice are more susceptible to MMF exposure and have significant increases in mucin production and neutrophil recruitment. Novel humanized SP-A2-transgenic mice harboring the hSP-A2 223K allele exhibit reduced neutrophil influx and mucin production in the lungs when challenged with MMF compared with SP-A(-/-) mice. Conversely, mice expressing hSP-A2 223Q have increased neutrophil influx and mucin production that are similar to SP-A(-/-) mice. Using tracheal epithelial cell cultures, we show that enhanced mucin production to MMF occurs in the absence of SP-A and is not dependent upon neutrophil recruitment. Increased phosphorylation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was evident in the lungs of MMF-challenged mice when SP-A was absent. Pharmacologic inhibition of EGFR prior to MMF challenge dramatically reduced mucin production in SP-A(-/-) mice. These findings suggest a protective role for SP-A in limiting MMF-stimulated mucin production that occurs through interference with EGFR-mediated signaling. SP-A interaction with the EGFR signaling pathway appears to occur in an allele-specific manner that may have important implications for SP-A polymorphisms in human diseases.
Rhinovirus (RV) infection in asthma induces varying degrees of airway inflammation (e.g. neutrophils), but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.