Neutrophil chemotaxis within a competing gradient of chemoattractants.
ABSTRACT: The dynamics of neutrophil chemotaxis under competing chemoattractant gradients was studied using a microfluidic platform. This microfluidic platform, which establishes a stable and dynamic gradient of chemoattractants across a cell culture chamber, enabled the investigation of human neutrophil migration patterns in the presences of four different chemoattractants (leukotriene B(4), chemokine C-X-C motif ligands 2 and 8, and fMLP) and competing gradients of all pairwise combinations. The migration patterns for individual cells were tracked and quantitatively analyzed, and the results suggest a hierarchy among these chemoattractants of fMLP > CXCL8 > CXCL2 > leukotriene B(4). In all conditions, over 60% of neutrophils exposed to a competing gradient move toward the stronger signal though the weaker chemoattractant still influences neutrophil motility. These results yield insight about how each chemoattractant contributes to overall neutrophil chemotaxis within complex physiological environments.
Project description:Neutrophils constitute the largest class of white blood cells and are the first responders in the innate immune response. They are able to sense and migrate up concentration gradients of chemoattractants in search of primary sites of infection and inflammation through a process known as chemotaxis. These chemoattractants include formylated peptides and various chemokines. While much is known about chemotaxis to individual chemoattractants, far less is known about chemotaxis towards many. Previous studies have shown that in opposing gradients of intermediate chemoattractants (interleukin-8 and leukotriene B4), neutrophils preferentially migrate toward the more distant source. In this work, we investigated neutrophil chemotaxis in opposing gradients of chemoattractants using a microfluidic platform. We found that primary neutrophils exhibit oscillatory motion in opposing gradients of intermediate chemoattractants. To understand this behavior, we constructed a mathematical model of neutrophil chemotaxis. Our results suggest that sensory adaptation alone cannot explain the observed oscillatory motion. Rather, our model suggests that neutrophils employ a winner-take-all mechanism that enables them to transiently lock onto sensed targets and continuously switch between the intermediate attractant sources as they are encountered. These findings uncover a previously unseen behavior of neutrophils in opposing gradients of chemoattractants that will further aid in our understanding of neutrophil chemotaxis and the innate immune response. In addition, we propose a winner-take-all mechanism allows the cells to avoid stagnation near local chemical maxima when migrating through a network of chemoattractant sources.
Project description:Neutrophils are the first responders to infection and play a pivotal role in many inflammatory diseases, including sepsis. Recent studies have shown that lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a classical pattern recognition molecule, dynamically programs innate immune responses. In this study, we show that pre-treatment with super-low levels of LPS [1 ng/mL] significantly dysregulate neutrophil migratory phenotypes, including spontaneous migration and altering neutrophil decision-making. To quantify neutrophil migratory decision-making with single-cell resolution, we developed a novel microfluidic competitive chemotaxis-chip (μC3) that exposes cells in a central channel to competing chemoattractant gradients. In this reductionist approach, we use two chemoattractants: a pro-resolution (N-Formyl-Met-Leu-Phe, fMLP) and pro-inflammatory (Leukotriene B4, LTB4) chemoattractant to model how a neutrophil makes a decision to move toward an end target chemoattractant (e.g., bacterial infection) vs. an intermediary chemoattractant (e.g., inflammatory signal). We demonstrate that naïve neutrophils migrate toward the primary end target signal in higher percentages than toward the secondary intermediary signal. As expected, we found that training with high dose LPS [100 ng/mL] influences a higher percentage of neutrophils to migrate toward the end target signal, while reducing the percentage of neutrophils that migrate toward the intermediary signal. Surprisingly, super-low dose LPS [1 ng/mL] significantly changes the ratios of migrating cells and an increased percentage of cells migrate toward the intermediary signal. Significantly, there was also an increase in the numbers of spontaneously migrating neutrophils after treatment with super-low dose LPS. These results shed light onto the directional migratory decision-making of neutrophils exposed to inflammatory training signals. Understanding these mechanisms may lead to the development of pro-resolution therapies that correct the neutrophil compass and reduce off-target organ damage.
Project description:Neutrophils act as the first line of defence in the human immune system by migrating to the site of abnormal events and performing their designated roles. One major signalling pathway that drives neutrophil action in vivo is the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent pathway. Herein, a microfluidic platform is employed to explore the mechanistic role of p38 MAPK in neutrophil chemotaxis. Neutrophils, with and without p38 MAPK inhibition, were exposed to pairwise competing gradients of chemotaxis-inducing molecules. Overall, p38 MAPK inhibitor-treated neutrophils were still capable of moving toward a chemoattractant signal; however, the hierarchy of neutrophil response to various chemoattractants changed and there was more deviation from direct movement toward a chemoattractant signal in p38 MAPK-blocked cells. In a parallel fluorescence imaging study, neutrophil expression of surface receptors (CXCR1, FPR2, BLTR, CD11b and CD66b) changed when comparing untreated and p38 MAPK-blocked cells. All results demonstrate that the p38 MAPK-dependent pathway plays a critical role in neutrophil chemotaxis and this role is, in part, through the regulation of surface receptor expression. These data regarding how receptor expression and chemotaxis are influenced by the p38 MAPK pathways lend insight into neutrophil behaviour in physiological environments and the potential manipulation of p38 MAPK for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:Neutrophils are always surrounded by/interacting with other components of the immune system; however, the current mechanistic understanding of neutrophil function is largely based on how neutrophils respond to a single chemical signal in a simplified environment. Such approaches are unable to recapitulate the in vivo microenvironment; thus, cell behavior may not fully represent the physiological behavior. Herein, we exploit a microfluidic model of the complex in vivo milieu to investigate how cell-cell interactions influence human neutrophil migration and surface marker expression. Neutrophil migration against a bacterially derived chemoattractant (formyl-met-leu-phe, fMLP), with and without preactivation by interleukins (interleukin-2 or interleukin-6), was evaluated in the presence and absence of endothelial support cells. Preactivation by interleukins or interaction with endothelial cells resulted in altered migration rates compared to naïve neutrophils, and migration trajectories deviated from the expected movement toward the fMLP signal. Interestingly, interaction with both interleukins and endothelial cells simultaneously resulted in a slight compensation in the deviation-on endothelial cells, 34.4% of untreated neutrophils moved away from the fMLP signal, while only 15.2 or 22.2% (interleukin-2-or interleukin-6-activated) of preactivated cells moved away from fMLP. Neutrophils interacting with interleukins and/or endothelial cells were still capable of prioritizing the fMLP signal over a competing chemoattractant, leukotriene B4 (LTB4). Fluorescence imaging of individual human neutrophils revealed that neutrophils treated with endothelial-cell-conditioned media showed up-regulation of the surface adhesion molecules cluster determinant 11b and 66b (CD11b and CD66b) upon stimulation. On the other hand, CD11b and CD66b down-regulation was observed in untreated neutrophils. These results leverage single cell analysis to reveal that the interaction between neutrophils and endothelial cells is involved in surface marker regulation and thus chemotaxis of neutrophils. This study brings new knowledge about neutrophil chemotaxis in the context of cell-to-cell communications, yielding both fundamental and therapeutically relevant insight.
Project description:Migrating cells often exhibit signal relay, a process in which cells migrating in response to a chemotactic gradient release a secondary chemoattractant to enhance directional migration. In neutrophils, signal relay toward the primary chemoattractant N--formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP) is mediated by leukotriene B4 (LTB4). Recent evidence suggests that the release of LTB4 from cells occurs through packaging in exosomes. Here we present a mathematical model of neutrophil signal relay that focuses on LTB4 and its exosome-mediated secretion. We describe neutrophil chemotaxis in response to a combination of a defined gradient of fMLP and an evolving gradient of LTB4, generated by cells in response to fMLP. Our model enables us to determine the gradient of LTB4 arising either through directed secretion from cells or through time-varying release from exosomes. We predict that the secondary release of LTB4 increases recruitment range and show that the exosomes provide a time delay mechanism that regulates the development of LTB4 gradients. Additionally, we show that under decaying primary gradients, secondary gradients are more stable when secreted through exosomes as compared with direct secretion. Our chemotactic model, calibrated from observed responses of cells to gradients, thereby provides insight into chemotactic signal relay in neutrophils during inflammation.
Project description:We have analyzed chemotaxis of neutrophil-differentiated HL60 cells in microfluidic devices that create exponential gradients of the chemoattractant, f-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLP). Such gradients expose each cell to a difference in fMLP concentration (DeltaC) across its diameter that is directly proportional to the ambient concentration (C) at that cell's position in the gradient, so the ratio DeltaC/C is constant everywhere. Cells exposed to ambient fMLP concentrations near the constant of dissociation (K(d)) for fMLP binding to its receptor ( approximately 10 nM) crawl much less frequently when DeltaC/C is 0.05 than when it is 0.09 or 0.13. Hence, cells can detect the gradient across their diameter without moving and, thus, without experiencing temporal changes in attractant concentration. At all DeltaC/C ratios tested, the average chemotactic prowess of individual cells (indicated by the distance a cell traveled in the correct direction divided by the length of its migration path) is maximal for cells that start migrating at concentrations near the K(d) and progressively decreases at higher or lower starting concentrations.
Project description:Neutrophils sense and respond to diverse chemotactic cues through G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). However, the precise trafficking dynamics of chemoattractant GPCRs during neutrophil activation and chemotaxis remain unclear. Here, by using small-molecule inhibitors and CRISPR-based knockouts, we establish that two primary chemoattractant GPCRs - formyl peptide receptor 1 (FPR1) and complement component 5a (C5a) receptor 1 (C5aR1) - internalize in a CDC42-actin-dependent manner. Through live-cell imaging, we demonstrate that, upon stimulation, FPR1 rapidly clusters and re-distributes along the plasma membrane to the trailing edge, where it internalizes and is directionally trafficked towards the front of migrating primary human neutrophils. In contrast to FPR1 and C5aR1, the leukotriene B4 (LTB4) receptor (BLT1, also known as LTB4R), which relays LTB4 signals in response to primary chemoattractants during neutrophil chemotaxis, fails to internalize upon physiological stimulation with LTB4, N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLF) or C5a. Importantly, we report that blocking the LTB4-BLT1 axis or downstream myosin activation enhances the internalization of FPR1 and C5aR1, thus reducing downstream signaling and impairing chemotaxis to primary chemoattractants. The polarized trafficking of chemoattractant GPCRs and its regulation by the BLT1-mediated myosin activation therefore drives persistent chemotactic signaling in neutrophils.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Project description:Neutrophil recruitment to inflammation sites purportedly depends on sequential waves of chemoattractants. Current models propose that leukotriene B(4) (LTB(4)), a secondary chemoattractant secreted by neutrophils in response to primary chemoattractants such as formyl peptides, is important in initiating the inflammation process. In this study we demonstrate that LTB(4) plays a central role in neutrophil activation and migration to formyl peptides. We show that LTB(4) production dramatically amplifies formyl peptide-mediated neutrophil polarization and chemotaxis by regulating specific signaling pathways acting upstream of actin polymerization and MyoII phosphorylation. Importantly, by analyzing the migration of neutrophils isolated from wild-type mice and mice lacking the formyl peptide receptor 1, we demonstrate that LTB(4) acts as a signal to relay information from cell to cell over long distances. Together, our findings imply that LTB(4) is a signal-relay molecule that exquisitely regulates neutrophil chemotaxis to formyl peptides, which are produced at the core of inflammation sites.
Project description:Neutrophil migration and chemotaxis are critical for our body's immune system. Microfluidic devices are increasingly used for investigating neutrophil migration and chemotaxis owing to their advantages in real-time visualization, precise control of chemical concentration gradient generation, and reduced reagent and sample consumption. Recently, a growing effort has been made by the microfluidic researchers toward developing integrated and easily operated microfluidic chemotaxis analysis systems, directly from whole blood. In this direction, the first all-on-chip method was developed for integrating the magnetic negative purification of neutrophils and the chemotaxis assay from small blood volume samples. This new method permits a rapid sample-to-result neutrophil chemotaxis test in 25 min. In this paper, we provide detailed construction, operation and data analysis method for this all-on-chip chemotaxis assay with a discussion on troubleshooting strategies, limitations and future directions. Representative results of the neutrophil chemotaxis assay testing a defined chemoattractant, N-Formyl-Met-Leu-Phe (fMLP), and sputum from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patient, using this all-on-chip method are shown. This method is applicable to many cell migration-related investigations and clinical applications.
Project description:Neutrophil migration from blood to tissue-residing microbes is governed by a series of chemoattractant gradients of both endogenous and microbial origin. Periodontal disease is characterized by neutrophil accumulation in the gingival pocket, recruited by the subgingival biofilm consisting mainly of gram-negative, anaerobic and proteolytic species such as <i>Porphyromonas gingivalis</i>. The fact that neutrophils are the dominating cell type in the gingival pocket suggests that neutrophil-specific chemoattractants are released by subgingival bacteria, but characterization of chemoattractants released by subgingival biofilm species remains incomplete. In the present study we characterized small (< 3 kDa) soluble chemoattractants released by growing <i>P. gingivalis</i>, and show that these are selective for neutrophils. Most neutrophil chemoattractant receptors are expressed also by mononuclear phagocytes, the free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFAR2) being an exception. In agreement with the selective neutrophil recruitment, the chemotactic activity found in <i>P. gingivalis</i> supernatants was mediated in part by a mixture of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are recognized by FFAR2, and other leukocytes (including monocytes) did not respond to SCFA stimulation. Although SCFAs, produced by bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber in the gut, has previously been shown to utilize FFAR2, our data demonstrate that the pronounced proteolytic metabolism employed by <i>P. gingivalis</i> (and likely also other subgingival biofilm bacteria associated with periodontal diseases) may result in the generation of SCFAs that attract neutrophils to the gingival pocket. This finding highlights the interaction between SCFAs and FFAR2 in the context of <i>P. gingivalis</i> colonization during periodontal disease, but may also have implications for other inflammatory pathologies involving proteolytic bacteria.