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Neutrophils impaired by anti-galectin-3 antibodies elicit inflammation of endothelial cells to aggregate the development of lupus cutaneous vasculitis.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether the interplay of anti-galectin-3 antibodies (anti-Gal3 Abs) with neutrophils contributes to the development of lupus cutaneous vasculitis.

METHODS: Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to determine the serum level of anti-Gal3 Abs in lupus patients. Flow cytometry, quantitative PCR and western blot were performed to investigate the expression of cell surface receptors, proinflammatory cytokines and signalling molecules in neutrophils stimulated by serum from lupus patients or healthy controls (HCs) or anti-Gal3 Ab, respectively. Immunofluorescence was performed to visualise the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were co-cultured with the supernatants from neutrophils stimulated by anti-Gal3 Ab, and cytokine production was measured at mRNA and protein levels. Immunohistochemistry was adopted to reveal the distribution of Gal3, cytokines and myeloperoxidase within lupus skin lesions.

REULTS: Serum levels of anti-Gal3 Abs were negatively correlated with peripheral counts of neutrophils. Anti-Gal3 Abs positive sera from SLE patients accelerated neutrophil death, altered cell phenotype and promoted formation of NETs with the involvement of p38 MAPK pathway. Supernatants collected from neutrophils co-cultured with anti-Gal3 Ab provoked endothelial cells to produce cytokines such as IL-1, ICAM-1, SELE and particularly IL-6. Consistently, IL-6 was higher in SLE patients with anti-Gal3 Ab positive sera and enriched in the area of vascular inflammation together with enhanced expression of Gal3 protein and infiltration of neutrophils.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these findings suggested that neutrophils were crucial mediators in anti-Gal3 Ab induced lupus cutaneous vasculitis.

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