Background: Proline-glycine-proline (PGP) is a bioactive fragment of collagen generated by the action of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and prolylendopeptidase (PE), and capable of eliciting neutrophil chemotaxis and epithelial remodelling. PGP is normally then degraded by leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H) to limit inflammation and remodelling. This study hypothesized that early and persistent airway neutrophilia in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) may relate to abnormalities in the PGP pathway and sought to understand underlying mechanisms.
Methods: Broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was obtained from 38 CF (9 newborns and 29 older children) and 24 non-CF children. BAL cell differentials and levels of PGP, MMP-9, PE and LTA4H were assessed.
Results: Whilst PGP was present in all but one of the older CF children tested, it was absent in non-CF controls and the vast majority of CF newborns. BAL levels of MMP-9 and PE were elevated in older children with CF relative to CF newborns and non-CF controls, correlating with airway neutrophilia and supportive of PGP generation. Furthermore, despite extracellular LTA4H commonly being greatly elevated concomitantly with inflammation to promote PGP degradation, this was not the case in CF children, potentially owing to degradation by neutrophil elastase.
Conclusions: A striking imbalance between PGP-generating and -degrading enzymes enables PGP accumulation in CF children from early life and potentially supports airway neutrophilia.
Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Matrikine; Neutrophil; Protease.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.