Neutrophil Proteases Promote Experimental Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm via Extracellular Trap Release and Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Activation

Huimin Yan, Hui Fang Zhou, Antonina Akk, Ying Hu, Luke E. Springer, Terri L. Ennis, Christine T.N. Pham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective - We previously established that neutrophil-derived dipeptidyl peptidase I (DPPI) is essential for experimental abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) development. Because DPPI activates several neutrophil serine proteases, it remains to be determined whether the AAA-promoting effect of DPPI is mediated by neutrophil serine proteases. Approach and Results - Using an elastase-induced AAA model, we demonstrate that the absence of 2 neutrophil serine proteases, neutrophil elastase and proteinase-3, recapitulates the AAA-resistant phenotype of DPPI-deficient mice. DPPI and neutrophil serine proteases direct the in vitro and in vivo release of extracellular structures termed neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). Administration of DNase1, which dismantles NETs, suppresses elastase-induced AAA in wild-type animals and in DPPI-deficient mice reconstituted with wild-type neutrophils. NETs also contain the cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide that complexes with self-DNA in recruiting plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), inducing type I interferons (IFNs) and promoting AAA in DPPI-deficient mice. Conversely, depletion of pDCs or blockade of type I IFNs suppresses experimental AAA. Moreover, we find an abundance of human cathelicidin peptide, a 37 amino acid sequence starting with 2 leucines and the human orthologue of cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide, in the vicinity of pDCs in human AAA tissues. Increased type I IFN mRNA expression is observed in human AAA tissues and circulating IFN-α is detected in ≈50% of the AAA sera examined. Conclusions - These results suggest that neutrophil protease-mediated NET release contributes to elastase-induced AAA through pDC activation and type I IFN production. These findings increase our understanding of the pathways underlying AAA inflammatory responses and suggest that limiting NET, pDC, and type I IFN activities may suppress aneurysm progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1660-1669
Number of pages10
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • aortic aneurysm, abdominal
  • dendritic cells
  • extracellular traps
  • interferon type I
  • neutrophil extracellular traps
  • plasmacytoid dendritic cells


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