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Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) enhances hypochlorous acid production in phagocytic neutrophils.

Redox Biol. 2021 Mar 30;41:101946. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2021.101946. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33823474.

Authors/Editors: Schindler L, Smyth LCD, Bernhagen J, Hampton MB, Dickerhof N.
Publication Date: 2021


Background: Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is an important immuno-regulatory cytokine and is elevated in inflammatory conditions. Neutrophils are the first immune cells to migrate to sites of infection and inflammation, where they generate, among other mediators, the potent oxidant hypochlorous acid (HOCl). Here, we investigated the impact of MIF on HOCl production in neutrophils in response to phagocytic stimuli.

Methods: Production of HOCl during phagocytosis of zymosan was determined using the specific fluorescent probe R19-S in combination with flow cytometry and live cell microscopy. The rate of phagocytosis was monitored using fluorescently-labeled zymosan. Alternatively, HOCl production was assessed during phagocytosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa by measuring the oxidation of bacterial glutathione to the HOCl-specific product glutathione sulfonamide. Formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), an oxidant-dependent process, was quantified using a SYTOX Green plate assay.

Results: Exposure of human neutrophils to MIF doubled the proportion of neutrophils producing HOCl during early stages of zymosan phagocytosis, and the concentration of HOCl produced was greater. During phagocytosis of P. aeruginosa, a greater fraction of bacterial glutathione was oxidized to glutathione sulfonamide in MIF-treated compared to control neutrophils. The ability of MIF to increase neutrophil HOCl production was independent of the rate of phagocytosis and could be blocked by the MIF inhibitor 4-IPP. Neutrophils pre-treated with MIF produced more NETs than control cells in response to PMA.

Conclusion: Our results suggest a role for MIF in potentiating HOCl production in neutrophils in response to phagocytic stimuli. We propose that this newly discovered activity of MIF contributes to its role in mediating the inflammatory response and enhances host defence.

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