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J Leukoc Biol. 2008 Apr;83(4):946-55. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1007684. Epub 2008 Jan 22.

Patterns of neutrophil serine protease-dependent cleavage of surfactant protein D in inflammatory lung disease.

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  • 1Immune Disease Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The manuscript presents definitive studies of surfactant protein D (SP-D) in the context of inflammatory lung fluids. The extent of SP-D depletion in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of children affected with cystic fibrosis (CF) is demonstrated to correlate best with the presence of the active neutrophil serine protease (NSP) elastase. Novel C-terminal SP-D fragments of 27 kDa and 11 kDa were identified in patient lavage fluid in addition to the previously described N-terminal, 35-kDa fragment by the use of isoelectrofocusing, modified blotting conditions, and region-specific antibodies. SP-D cleavage sites were identified. In vitro treatment of recombinant human SP-D dodecamers with NSPs replicated the fragmentation, but unexpectedly, the pattern of SP-D fragments generated by NSPs was dependent on calcium concentration. Whereas the 35- and 11-kDa fragments were generated when incubations were performed in low calcium (200 microM CaCl(2)), incubations in physiological calcium (2 mM) with higher amounts of elastase or proteinase-3 generated C-terminal 27, 21, and 14 kDa fragments, representing cleavage within the collagen and neck regions. Studies in which recombinant SP-D cleavage by individual NSPs was quantitatively evaluated under low and high calcium conditions showed that the most potent NSP for cleaving SP-D is elastase, followed by proteinase-3, followed by cathepsin G. These relative potency findings were considered in the context of other studies that showed that active NSPs in CF BALF are in the order: elastase, followed by cathepsin G, followed by proteinase-3. The findings support a pre-eminent role for neutrophil elastase as the critical protease responsible for SP-D depletion in inflammatory lung disease.

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