Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2018 01 12;314(1):L206-L214. Epub 2017 Oct 12.
Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University , Richmond, Virginia.
Altered sphingolipid metabolism is associated with increased inflammation; however, the impact of inflammatory mediators, including neutrophil elastase (NE), on airway sphingolipid homeostasis remains unknown. Using a well-characterized mouse model of NE oropharyngeal aspiration, we investigated a potential link between NE-induced airway inflammation and increased synthesis of various classes of sphingolipids, including ceramide species. Sphingolipids in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (BAL) were identified and quantified using reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry analysis. BAL total and differential cell counts, CXCL1/keratinocyte chemoattractant (KC) protein levels, and high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein levels were determined. NE exposure increased BAL long-chain ceramides, total cell and neutrophil counts, and upregulated KC and HMGB1. The mRNA and protein levels of serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) long-chain subunits 1 and 2, the multimeric enzyme responsible for the first, rate-limiting step of de novo ceramide generation, were determined by qRT-PCR and Western analyses, respectively. NE increased lung SPT long-chain subunit 2 (SPTLC2) protein levels but not SPTLC1 and had no effect on mRNA for either subunit. To assess whether de novo ceramide synthesis was required for NE-induced inflammation, myriocin, a SPT inhibitor, or a vehicle control was administered intraperitoneally 2 h before NE administration. Myriocin decreased BAL d and d ceramide, KC, and HMGB1 induced by NE exposure. These results support a feed-forward cycle of NE-generated ceramide and ceramide-driven cytokine signaling that may be a potential target for intervention in lung disease typified by chronic neutrophilic inflammation.