While investigating new mechanisms by which the dietary omega-3 fatty acids regulate inflammation, the authors have identified a new step in the regulation of neutrophil migration across vascular endothelial cells.
Inflammation is a physiological response to tissue trauma or infection, but leukocytes, which are the effector cells of the inflammatory process, have powerful tissue remodelling capabilities. Thus, to ensure their precise localisation, passage of leukocytes from the blood into inflamed tissue is tightly regulated. Recruitment of blood borne neutrophils to the tissue stroma occurs during early inflammation. In this process, peptide agonists of the chemokine family are assumed to provide a chemotactic stimulus capable of supporting the migration of neutrophils across vascular endothelial cells, through the basement membrane of the vessel wall, and out into the tissue stroma. Here, we show that, although an initial chemokine stimulus is essential for the recruitment of flowing neutrophils by endothelial cells stimulated with the inflammatory cytokine tumour necrosis factor-α, transit of the endothelial monolayer is regulated by an additional and downstream stimulus. This signal is supplied by the metabolism of the omega-6-polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-6-PUFA), arachidonic acid, into the eicosanoid prostaglandin-D2 (PGD2) by cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. This new step in the neutrophil recruitment process was revealed when the dietary n-3-PUFA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), was utilised as an alternative substrate for COX enzymes, leading to the generation of PGD3. This alternative series eicosanoid inhibited the migration of neutrophils across endothelial cells by antagonising the PGD2 receptor. Here, we describe a new step in the neutrophil recruitment process that relies upon a lipid-mediated signal to regulate the migration of neutrophils across endothelial cells. PGD2 signalling is subordinate to the chemokine-mediated activation of neutrophils, but without the sequential delivery of this signal, neutrophils fail to penetrate the endothelial cell monolayer. Importantly, the ability of the dietary n-3-PUFA, EPA, to inhibit this process not only revealed an unsuspected level of regulation in the migration of inflammatory leukocytes, it also contributes to our understanding of the interactions of this bioactive lipid with the inflammatory system. Moreover, it indicates the potential for novel therapeutics that target the inflammatory system with greater affinity and/or specificity than supplementing the diet with n-3-PUFAs.
Inflammation is a physiological response to tissue trauma or infection. Neutrophils, which circulate in the blood stream, are the first inflammatory cells to be recruited to a site of tissue inflammation. In response to recruitment signals provided by chemotactic peptides called chemokines, neutrophils traverse the endothelial cell lining of blood vessels. This process involves a multistep cascade of neutrophil adhesion and activation events on the endothelial barrier. While investigating the anti-inflammatory functions of the omega-3 fatty acid , EPA, which is found, for instance, in dietary fish oil, we identified an additional unexpected lipid-derived signal that is essential for neutrophil migration across the endothelium. Our experiments show that a chemokine delivered the first signal needed to bind neutrophils firmly to the endothelial surface. However, in order to traverse the endothelium, a subsequent signal delivered by prostaglandin-D2 (PGD2), a lipid derived from the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid, was essential. When EPA, was introduced into the experiment, it was used to form PGD3. This alternative lipid blocked interactions between PGD2 and its receptor on neutrophils, preventing the process of migration across the endothelial barrier. Thus, we reveal a new step in the recruitment of neutrophils during inflammation, and a novel anti-inflammatory mechanism of action of dietary EPA.