Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a common genetic disease caused by mutations of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. Persistent lung inflammation, characterized by increasing polymorphonuclear leukocyte recruitment, is a major cause of the decline in respiratory function in patients with CF and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. CFTR is expressed in various cell types, including leukocytes, but its involvement in the regulation of leukocyte recruitment is unknown.Objectives:
We evaluated whether CF leukocytes might present with alterations in cell adhesion and migration, a key process governing innate and acquired immune responses.Methods:
We used ex vivo adhesion and chemotaxis assays, flow cytometry, immunofluorescence, and GTPase activity assays in this study.Measurements and Main Results:
We found that chemoattractant-induced activation of β1 and β2 integrins and of chemotaxis is defective in mononuclear cells isolated from patients with CF. In contrast, polymorphonuclear leukocyte adhesion and chemotaxis were normal. The functionality of β1 and β2 integrins was restored by treatment of CF monocytes with the CFTR-correcting drugs VRT325 and VX809. Moreover, treatment of healthy monocytes with the CFTR inhibitor CFTR(inh)-172 blocked integrin activation by chemoattractants. In a murine model of lung inflammation, we found that integrin-independent migration of CF monocytes into the lung parenchyma was normal, whereas, in contrast, integrin-dependent transmigration into the alveolar space was impaired. Finally, signal transduction analysis showed that, in CF monocytes, chemoattractant-triggered activation of RhoA and CDC42 Rho small GTPases (controlling integrin activation and chemotaxis, respectively) was strongly deficient.Conclusions:
Altogether, these data highlight the critical regulatory role of CFTR in integrin activation by chemoattractants in monocytes and identify CF as a new, cell type-selective leukocyte adhesion deficiency disease, providing new insights into CF pathogenesis.