Autoantibody-mediated Macrophage Dysfunction in Patients with Severe Asthma with Airway Infections
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Rationale: Localized autoimmune responses have been reported in patients with severe eosinophilic asthma, characterized by eosinophil degranulation and airway infections. Objective: To determine the presence of autoantibodies against macrophage scavenger receptors within the airways and their effects on macrophage function and susceptibility to infection. Methods: Anti-EPX (eosinophil peroxidase), anti-MARCO (macrophage receptor with collagenous structure) IgG titers, and T1 and T2 (type 1/2) cytokines were measured in 221 sputa from 143 well-characterized patients with severe asthma. Peripheral monocytes and MDMs (monocyte-derived macrophages) isolated from healthy control subjects were treated with immunoprecipitated immunoglobulins from sputa with high anti-MARCO titers or nonspecific IgG to assess uptake of Streptococcus pneumoniae or response to the bacterial product LPS. Measurements and Main Results: Anti-MARCO IgG was detected in 36% of patients, with significantly higher titers (up to 1:16) in patients with mixed granulocytic sputa, indicative of airway infections. Multivariate regression analysis confirmed increased frequency of degranulation (free eosinophil granules), increased blood eosinophils (indicative of high T2 burden), increased sputum total cell count, peripheral blood leukocytes (indicative of infection), and lymphopenia were associated with increased anti-MARCO IgG titers; IL-15 (odds ratio [OR], 1.79; confidence interval [CI], 1.19-2.70), IL-13 (OR, 1.06; CI, 1.02-1.12), and IL-12p70 (OR, 3.34; CI, 1.32-8.40) were the associated cytokines. Patients with anti-MARCO antibodies had higher chances of subsequent infective versus eosinophilic exacerbations (P = 0.01). MDMs treated with immunoprecipitated immunoglobulins (anti-MARCO+ sputa) had reduced bacterial uptake by 39% ± 15% and significantly reduced release of IL-10 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (P < 0.05) in response to an LPS stimulus. Conclusions: Autoantibodies against macrophage scavenger receptors in eosinophilic asthma airways may impede effective host defenses and lead to recurrent infective bronchitis.
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