Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) is an opportunistic gram-negative pathogen that causes respiratory infections and is associated with progression of respiratory diseases. Cigarette smoke is a main risk factor for development of respiratory infections and chronic respiratory diseases. Glucocorticoids, which are anti-inflammatory drugs, are still the most common therapy for these diseases. Alveolar macrophages are professional phagocytes that reside in the lung and are responsible for clearing infections by the action of their phagolysosomal machinery and promotion of local inflammation. In this study, we dissected the interaction between NTHI and alveolar macrophages and the effect of cigarette smoke on this interaction. We showed that alveolar macrophages clear NTHI infections by adhesion, phagocytosis, and phagolysosomal processing of the pathogen. Bacterial uptake requires host actin polymerization, the integrity of plasma membrane lipid rafts, and activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling cascade. Parallel to bacterial clearance, macrophages secrete tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) upon NTHI infection. In contrast, exposure to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) impaired alveolar macrophage phagocytosis, although NTHI-induced TNF-alpha secretion was not abrogated. Mechanistically, our data showed that CSE reduced PI3K signaling activation triggered by NTHI. Treatment of CSE-exposed cells with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone reduced the amount of TNF-alpha secreted upon NTHI infection but did not compensate for CSE-dependent phagocytic impairment. The deleterious effect of cigarette smoke was observed in macrophage cell lines and in human alveolar macrophages obtained from smokers and from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Martí-Lliteras, P., Regueiro, V., Morey, P., Hood, D. W., Saus, C., Sauleda, J., Agustí, A. G. N., Bengoechea, J. A., & Garmendia, J. (2009). Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae clearance by alveolar macrophages is impaired by exposure to cigarette smoke. Infection and Immunity, 77(10), 4232-42. https://doi.org/10.1128/IAI.00305-09