Local microvascular leakage promotes trafficking of activated neutrophils to remote organs

J Clin Invest. 2020 May 1;130(5):2301-2318. doi: 10.1172/JCI133661.


Increased microvascular permeability to plasma proteins and neutrophil emigration are hallmarks of innate immunity and key features of numerous inflammatory disorders. Although neutrophils can promote microvascular leakage, the impact of vascular permeability on neutrophil trafficking is unknown. Here, through the application of confocal intravital microscopy, we report that vascular permeability-enhancing stimuli caused a significant frequency of neutrophil reverse transendothelial cell migration (rTEM). Furthermore, mice with a selective defect in microvascular permeability enhancement (VEC-Y685F-ki) showed reduced incidence of neutrophil rTEM. Mechanistically, elevated vascular leakage promoted movement of interstitial chemokines into the bloodstream, a response that supported abluminal-to-luminal neutrophil TEM. Through development of an in vivo cell labeling method we provide direct evidence for the systemic dissemination of rTEM neutrophils, and showed them to exhibit an activated phenotype and be capable of trafficking to the lungs where their presence was aligned with regions of vascular injury. Collectively, we demonstrate that increased microvascular leakage reverses the localization of directional cues across venular walls, thus causing neutrophils engaged in diapedesis to reenter the systemic circulation. This cascade of events offers a mechanism to explain how local tissue inflammation and vascular permeability can induce downstream pathological effects in remote organs, most notably in the lungs.

Keywords: Chemokines; Inflammation; Neutrophils; Vascular Biology; endothelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capillary Permeability / genetics
  • Capillary Permeability / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microvessels / immunology*
  • Microvessels / pathology
  • Neutrophil Activation*
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration / genetics
  • Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration / immunology*