1 Section of Surgery and Internal Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Institut for Klinisk Medicin - Patologisk Institut, Aalborg Sygehus Nord5 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
Pathogenic mycobacteria reside in, and are in turn controlled by, macrophages. However, emerging data suggest that neutrophils also play a critical role in innate immunity to tuberculosis, presumably by their different antibacterial granule proteins. In this study, we purified neutrophil azurophil and specific granules and systematically analyzed the antimycobacterial activity of some purified azurophil and specific granule proteins against M. smegmatis, M. bovis-BCG and M. tuberculosis H37Rv. Using gel overlay and colony forming unit assays we showed that the defensin-depleted azurophil granule proteins (AZP) were more active against mycobacteria compared to other granule proteins and cytosolic proteins. The proteins showing antimycobacterial activity were identified by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Electron microscopic studies demonstrate that the AZP disintegrate bacterial cell membrane resulting in killing of mycobacteria. Exogenous addition of AZP to murine macrophage RAW 264.7, THP-1 and peripheral blood monocyte-derived macrophages significantly reduced the intracellular survival of mycobacteria without exhibiting cytotoxic activity on macrophages. Immunofluorescence studies showed that macrophages actively endocytose neutrophil granular proteins. Treatment with AZP resulted in increase in co-localization of BCG containing phagosomes with lysosomes but not in increase of autophagy. These data demonstrate that neutrophil azurophil proteins may play an important role in controlling intracellular survival of mycobacteria in macrophages.