BACKGROUND: In mice, the cytokine interleukin (IL)-17A causes a local accumulation of neutrophils within the bronchoalveolar space. IL-17A may thereby also contribute to an increased local proteolytic burden. In the current study, we determined whether mRNA for IL-17A is elevated and protein expression of IL-17A occurs locally in inflammatory cells within the human bronchoalveolar space during severe inflammation caused by organic dust. We also assessed the expression of the elastinolytic protease MMP-9 in this airway compartment.
METHODS: Six healthy, non-smoking human volunteers were exposed to organic dust in a swine confinement, a potent stimulus of neutrophil accumulation within the human bronchoalveolar space. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was harvested 2 weeks before and 24 hours after the exposure and total and differential counts were conducted for inflammatory BAL cells. Messenger RNA for IL-17A was measured using reverse transcript polymerase chain reaction-enzyme linked immunoassay (RT-PCR-ELISA). Intracellular immunoreactivity (IR) for IL-17A and MMP-9, respectively, was determined in BAL cells.
RESULTS: The exposure to organic dust caused more than a forty-fold increase of mRNA for IL-17A in BAL cells. IL-17A immunoreactivity was detected mainly in BAL lymphocytes, and the number of these IL-17A expressing lymphocytes displayed an eight-fold increase, even though not statistically significant. The increase in IL-17A mRNA was associated with a substantial increase of the number of BAL neutrophils expressing MMP-9 immunoreactivity.
CONCLUSION: Exposure to organic dust increases local IL-17A mRNA and because there is intracellular expression in BAL lymphocytes, this suggests that IL-17A protein can originate from lymphocytes within the human bronchoalveolar space. The fact that the increased IL-17A mRNA is associated with an increased number of MMP-9-expressing neutrophils is compatible with IL-17A increasing the local proteolytic burden through its neutrophil-accumulating effect.
2005. Vol. 6, 44- p.