We have described what some have termed a paradigm shifting pathway of neutrophilic inflammation which, unlike the "classic" mode associated with IL-8, can become self propagating in chronic inflammatory diseases such as COPD. Specifically, IL-8 initiates neutrophil (PMN) influx, the PMNs in turn release a proteolytic cascade that degrades collagen and generates the PMN-specific matrikine, proline-glycine-proline (PGP). PGP then propagates further PMN influx and neutrophilic inflammation after IL-8 has subsided. In more common acute inflammatory circumstances, the PGP pathway is terminated by the aminopeptidase activity of leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H) which destroys PGP. The thesis of this project is that cigarette smoking (CS) causes the PGP pathway to become self propagating by inhibitory effects on LTA4H and that these effects persist in COPD even after smoking cessation. We hypothesize that CS can chemically modify and inactivate LTA4H's aminopeptidase but not hydrolase activity as well as acetylate PGP which renders it immune to LTA4H degradation and markedly increases the chemotactic activity of the tri-peptide. These ideas are supported by a number of observations: 1) CS induces PGP, PMN influx, and alveolar enlargement in a mouse model of COPD;2) PGP can cause PMN influx and alveolar enlargement in mice;3) PGP appears to be a biomarker for COPD;4) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have been reported in the LTA4H promoter that are associated with COPD. The results of this project will elucidate how and where CS smoke inactivates LTA4H's aminopeptidase activity. This information will be extremely useful in the eventual design of LTA4H inhibitors that are specific for hydrolase activity rather than currently available inhibitor that block both hydrolase and aminopeptidase activities. In clinical studies, we will establish tha LTA4H is similarly modified in smokers and individuals with COPD. In a mouse model of COPD, we will determine whether contrary to expectations, current LTA4 inhibitors intended for eventual human use, may exacerbate COPD by blocking LTA4H's aminopeptidase activity and elevating PGP. Lastly, we will evaluate whether the mucolytic/antioxidant, carbocysteine, which prevents CS-mediated inhibition of LTA4H's aminopeptidase as well as blocks PGP acetylation can ameliorate the smoking mouse model of COPD via effects on the PGP inflammatory pathway.

Public Health Relevance

We have discovered a means by which smoking can prevent a natural mechanism that controls lung inflammation by degrading the neutrophil chemokine, PGP. In doing so, smoke causes chronic PGP-mediated inflammation and contributes to COPD. We are evaluating new drugs that may treat COPD by enhancing the destruction of PGP.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology Study Section (LCMI)
Program Officer
Postow, Lisa
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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