Aspergillus fumigatus infects up to 50% of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and may play a role in progressive lung disease. As cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator is expressed in cells of the innate immune system, we hypothesised that impaired antifungal immune responses play a role in CF-related Aspergillus lung disease. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells, polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) and monocytes were isolated from blood samples taken from CF patients and healthy volunteers. Live-cell imaging and colorimetric assays were used to assess antifungal activity in vitro. Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was measured using luminol-induced chemiluminescence and was related to clinical metrics as collected by case report forms. CF phagocytes are as effective as those from healthy controls with regards to phagocytosis, killing and restricting germination of A. fumigatus conidia. ROS production by CF phagocytes was up to four-fold greater than healthy controls (p<0.05). This effect could not be replicated in healthy phagocytes by priming with lipopolysaccharide or serum from CF donors. Increased production of ROS against A. fumigatus by CF PMN was associated with an increased number of clinical exacerbations in the previous year (p=0.007) and reduced lung function (by forced expiratory volume in 1 s) (p=0.014). CF phagocytes mount an intrinsic exaggerated release of ROS upon A. fumigatus stimulation which is associated with clinical disease severity.
Brunel, S. F., Willment, J. A., Brown, G. D., Devereux, G., & Warris, A. (2018). Aspergillus-induced superoxide production by cystic fibrosis phagocytes is associated with disease severity. ERJ Open Research, 4(2), 1-11. [00068-2017]. https://doi.org/10.1183/23120541.00068-2017