Cysteinyl leukotriene overproduction in aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease is driven by platelet-adherent leukocytes

Blood. 2012 Apr 19;119(16):3790-8. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-10-384826. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


Cysteinyl leukotriene (cysLT) overproduction is a hallmark of aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), but its mechanism is poorly understood. Because adherent platelets can convert the leukocyte-derived precursor leukotriene (LT)A(4) to LTC(4), the parent cysLT, through the terminal enzyme LTC(4) synthase, we investigated the contribution of platelet-dependent transcellular cysLT production in AERD. Nasal polyps from subjects with AERD contained many extravascular platelets that colocalized with leukocytes, and the percentages of circulating neutrophils, eosinophils, and monocytes with adherent platelets were markedly higher in the blood of subjects with AERD than in aspirin-tolerant controls. Platelet-adherent subsets of leukocytes had higher expression of several adhesion markers than did platelet nonadherent subsets. Adherent platelets contributed more than half of the total LTC(4) synthase activity of peripheral blood granulocytes, and they accounted for the higher level of LTC(4) generation by activated granulocytes from subjects with AERD compared with aspirin-tolerant controls. Urinary LTE(4) levels, a measure of systemic cysLT production, correlated strongly with percentages of circulating platelet-adherent granulocytes. Because platelet adherence to leukocytes allows for both firm adhesion to endothelial cells and augmented transcellular conversion of leukotrienes, a disturbance in platelet-leukocyte interactions may be partly responsible for the respiratory tissue inflammation and the overproduction of cysLTs that characterize AERD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase / immunology
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Aspirin / adverse effects*
  • Aspirin / immunology
  • Asthma, Aspirin-Induced / immunology*
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / immunology*
  • Bronchoconstriction / immunology
  • Cysteine / immunology*
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Granulocytes / drug effects
  • Granulocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Integrins / immunology
  • Leukocytes / immunology*
  • Leukotriene E4 / immunology
  • Leukotrienes / immunology*
  • Leukotrienes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Polyps / chemically induced*
  • Nasal Polyps / immunology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • Integrins
  • Leukotrienes
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • cysteinyl-leukotriene
  • Leukotriene E4
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase
  • Cysteine
  • Aspirin