alpha-Defensins, antimicrobial peptides localized in neutrophils, participate in tissue damage through their cytotoxic effects in neutrophil-mediated pulmonary diseases. Neutrophils play an important role in the pathogenesis of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We measured alpha-defensins levels in plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of ARDS patients to assess the kinetics of alpha-defensins in ARDS. Plasma alpha-defensins levels were higher in ARDS patients than in control subjects, and BALF levels were also higher in ARDS patients than in control subjects. In ARDS, BALF alpha-defensins levels correlated with those of interleukin (IL)-8, and plasma alpha-defensins levels also correlated with Lung Injury Score. Peripheral neutrophil alpha-defensins contents were higher in ARDS than the control. IL-8 dose-dependently stimulated alpha-defensins release from cultured neutrophils and these levels were higher in ARDS than the control. Reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography showed high plasma levels of pro-defensins, precursors of alpha-defensins from the bone marrow in ARDS, although alpha-defensins in peripheral and BALF neutrophils were mature type. In conclusion, high plasma alpha-defensins in ARDS patients result from the release of pro-defensins from bone marrow, rather than mature alpha-defensins from neutrophils that accumulate in the alveolar space. The alpha-defensins contents of peripheral neutrophils in ARDS are higher and easier to release than control.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.