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Mediators Inflamm. 2017;2017:5675029. doi: 10.1155/2017/5675029. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

Neutrophil Extracellular DNA Traps Induce Autoantigen Production by Airway Epithelial Cells.

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Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Republic of Korea.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Ajou University, Suwon, Republic of Korea.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Clinical Trial Center, Ajou University Medical Center, Suwon, Republic of Korea.


The hypothesis of autoimmune involvement in asthma has received much recent interest. Autoantibodies, such as anti-cytokeratin (CK) 18, anti-CK19, and anti-α-enolase antibodies, react with self-antigens and are found at high levels in the sera of patients with severe asthma (SA). However, the mechanisms underlying autoantibody production in SA have not been fully determined. The present study was conducted to demonstrate that neutrophil extracellular DNA traps (NETs), cytotoxic molecules released from neutrophils, are a key player in the stimulation of airway epithelial cells (AECs) to produce autoantigens. This study showed that NETs significantly increased the intracellular expression of tissue transglutaminase (tTG) but did not affect that of CK18 in AECs. NETs induced the extracellular release of both tTG and CK18 in a concentration-dependent manner. Moreover, NETs directly degraded intracellular α-enolase into small fragments. However, antibodies against neutrophil elastase (NE) or myeloperoxidase (MPO) attenuated the effects of NETs on AECs. Furthermore, each NET isolated from healthy controls (HC), nonsevere asthma (NSA), and SA had different characteristics. Taken together, these findings suggest that AECs exposed to NETs may exhibit higher autoantigen production, especially in SA. Therefore, targeting of NETs may represent a new therapy for neutrophilic asthma with a high level of autoantigens.

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