Traumatic injury and exposure to mitochondrial-derived damage associated molecular patterns suppresses neutrophil extracellular trap formation

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Major traumatic injury induces significant remodelling of the circulating neutrophil pool and loss of bactericidal function. Although a well-described phenomenon, research to date has only analysed blood samples acquired post-hospital admission, and the mechanisms that initiate compromised neutrophil function post-injury are therefore poorly understood. Here, we analysed pre-hospital blood samples acquired from 62 adult trauma patients (mean age 44 years, range 19-95 years) within 1-hour of injury (mean time to sample 39 minutes, range 13-59 minutes). We found an immediate impairment in neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) generation in response to phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) stimulation, which persisted into the acute post-injury phase (4-72 hours). Reduced NET generation was accompanied by reduced reactive oxygen species production, impaired activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases and a reduction in neutrophil glucose uptake and metabolism to lactate. Pre-treating neutrophils from healthy subjects with mitochondrial-derived damage-associated molecular patterns (mtDAMPs), whose circulating levels were significantly increased in our trauma patients, reduced NET generation. This mtDAMP-induced impairment in NET formation was associated with an N-formyl peptide mediated activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a negative regulator of aerobic glycolysis and NET formation. Indeed, activation of AMPK via treatment with the AMP-mimetic AICAR significantly reduced neutrophil lactate production in response to PMA stimulation, a phenomenon that we also observed for neutrophils pre-treated with mtDAMPs. Furthermore, the impairment in NET generation induced by mtDAMPs was partially ameliorated by pre-treating neutrophils with the AMPK inhibitor compound C. Taken together, our data demonstrate an immediate trauma-induced impairment in neutrophil anti-microbial function and identify mtDAMP release as a potential initiator of acute post-injury neutrophil dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number685
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2019


  • Immune suppression
  • Mitochondrial-derived DAMPs
  • Neutrophil extracellular traps
  • Neutrophils
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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