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Sci Transl Med ; 13(616): eabj1008, 2021 Oct 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1518118


Red blood cells (RBCs) are essential for aerobic respiration through delivery of oxygen to distant tissues. However, RBCs are currently considered immunologically inert, and few, if any, secondary functions of RBCs have been identified. Here, we showed that RBCs serve as critical immune sensors through surface expression of the nucleic acid­sensing Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9). Mammalian RBCs expressed TLR9 on their surface and bound CpG-containing DNA derived from bacteria, plasmodia, and mitochondria. RBC-bound mitochondrial DNA was increased during human and murine sepsis and pneumonia. In vivo, CpG-carrying RBCs drove accelerated erythrophagocytosis and innate immune activation characterized by increased interferon signaling. Erythroid-specific deletion of TLR9 abrogated erythrophagocytosis and decreased local and systemic cytokine production during CpG-induced inflammation and polymicrobial sepsis. Thus, detection and capture of nucleic acid by TLR9-expressing RBCs regulated red cell clearance and inflammatory cytokine production, demonstrating that RBCs function as immune sentinels during pathologic states. Consistent with these findings, RBC-bound mitochondrial DNA was elevated in individuals with viral pneumonia and sepsis secondary to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and associated with anemia and severity of disease. These findings uncover a previously unappreciated role of RBCs as critical players in inflammation distinct from their function in gas transport.

Anemia , Immunity, Innate , Toll-Like Receptor 9 , Animals , DNA , Erythrocytes , Humans , Mice
Crit Care Med ; 49(7): 1149-1158, 2021 07 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1494026


OBJECTIVES: Circulating nucleosomes and their component histones have been implicated as pathogenic in sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome in adults. However, their role in pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome is unknown. DESIGN: We performed a prospective cohort study in children with acute respiratory distress syndrome, with plasma collection within 24 hours of acute respiratory distress syndrome onset. We associated nucleosome levels with severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome and with nonpulmonary organ failures and tested for association of nucleosomes with PICU mortality and ventilator-free days at 28 days in univariate and multivariable analyses. We also performed proteomics of DNA-bound plasma proteins in a matched case-control study of septic children with and without acute respiratory distress syndrome in order to identify specific histone proteins elevated in acute respiratory distress syndrome. SETTING: Large academic tertiary-care PICU. PATIENTS: Intubated children meeting Berlin criteria for acute respiratory distress syndrome. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We enrolled 333 children with acute respiratory distress syndrome, with 69 nonsurvivors (21%). Plasma nucleosomes were correlated with acute respiratory distress syndrome severity and with the number of nonpulmonary organ failures at acute respiratory distress syndrome onset. Nucleosomes were higher (p < 0.001) in nonsurvivors (0.40 [interquartile range, 0.20-0.71] arbitrary units) relative to survivors (0.10 [interquartile range, 0.04-0.25] arbitrary units). Nucleosomes were associated with PICU mortality in multivariable analysis (adjusted odds ratio 1.84 per 1 sd increase; 95% CI, 1.38-2.45; p < 0.001). Nucleosomes were also associated with a lower probability of being extubated alive by day 28 after multivariable adjustment (adjusted subdistribution hazard ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.63-0.88; p = 0.001). Proteomic analysis demonstrated higher levels of the core nucleosome histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4 in septic children with acute respiratory distress syndrome, relative to septic children without acute respiratory distress syndrome. CONCLUSIONS: Plasma nucleosomes are associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome severity, nonpulmonary organ failures, and worse outcomes in pediatric acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Histones/blood , Nucleosomes/metabolism , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/blood , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/mortality , Adolescent , Airway Extubation , Case-Control Studies , Child , Child, Preschool , DNA/blood , Female , Hospital Mortality , Humans , Intensive Care Units, Pediatric , Male , Multiple Organ Failure/mortality , Prognosis , Prospective Studies , Proteomics , Respiration, Artificial , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/complications , Sepsis/blood , Sepsis/complications , Severity of Illness Index , Survival Rate