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Systemic cytokine signaling via IL-17 in smokers with obstructive pulmonary disease: a link to bacterial colonization?

Authors Andelid K, Tengvall S, Andersson A, Levänen B, Christenson K, Jirholt P, Ahren C, Qvarfordt I, Ekberg-Jansson A, Lindén A

Received 23 October 2014

Accepted for publication 20 February 2015

Published 27 March 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 689—702


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Kristina Andelid,1 Sara Tengvall,1 Anders Andersson,1 Bettina Levänen,2 Karin Christenson,3 Pernilla Jirholt,3 Christina Åhrén,4 Ingemar Qvarfordt,1 Ann Ekberg-Jansson,1 Anders Lindén2

1Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2Unit of Lung and Airway Research, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; 3Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, 4Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control Unit, Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract: We examined whether systemic cytokine signaling via interleukin (IL)-17 and growth-related oncogene-α (GRO-α) is impaired in smokers with obstructive pulmonary disease including chronic bronchitis (OPD-CB). We also examined how this systemic cytokine signaling relates to bacterial colonization in the airways of the smokers with OPD-CB. Currently smoking OPD-CB patients (n=60, corresponding to Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease [GOLD] stage I–IV) underwent recurrent blood and sputum sampling over 60 weeks, during stable conditions and at exacerbations. We characterized cytokine protein concentrations in blood and bacterial growth in sputum. Asymptomatic smokers (n=10) and never-smokers (n=10) were included as control groups. During stable clinical conditions, the protein concentrations of IL-17 and GRO-α were markedly lower among OPD-CB patients compared with never-smoker controls, whereas the asymptomatic smoker controls displayed intermediate concentrations. Notably, among OPD-CB patients, colonization by opportunistic pathogens was associated with markedly lower IL-17 and GRO-α, compared with colonization by common respiratory pathogens or oropharyngeal flora. During exacerbations in the OPD-CB patients, GRO-α and neutrophil concentrations were increased, whereas protein concentrations and messenger RNA for IL-17 were not detectable in a reproducible manner. In smokers with OPD-CB, systemic cytokine signaling via IL-17 and GRO-α is impaired and this alteration may be linked to colonization by opportunistic pathogens in the airways. Given the potential pathogenic and therapeutic implications, these findings deserve to be validated in new and larger patient cohorts.

Keywords: COPD, exacerbation, infection, neutrophil, lung, opportunist

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