Pneumocystis murina Promotes Inflammasome Formation and NETosis during Pneumocystis Pneumonia

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Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PjP) poses a serious risk to individuals with compromised immune systems, such as individuals with HIV/AIDS or undergoing immunosuppressive therapies for cancer or solid organ transplants. Severe PjP triggers excessive lung inflammation, resulting in lung function decline and consequential alveolar damage, potentially culminating in acute respiratory distress syndrome. Non-HIV patients face a 30-60%mortality rate, emphasizing the need for a deeper understanding of inflammatory responses in PjP. Prior research emphasized macrophages in Pneumocystis infections, neglecting neutrophils' role in tissue damage. Consequently, the overemphasis on macrophages led to an incomplete understanding of the role of neutrophils and inflammatory responses. In the current investigation, our RNAseq studies on a murine surrogate model of PjP revealed heightened activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and NETosis cell death pathways in their lungs. Immunofluorescence staining confirmed Neutrophil Extracellular Trap (NET) presence in the lungs of the P. murina -infected mice, validating our findings. Moreover, isolated neutrophils exhibited NETosis when directly stimulated with P. murina . While isolated NETs did not compromise P. murina viability, our data highlight the potential role of neutrophils in promoting inflammation during P. murina pneumonia through NLRP3 inflammasome assembly and NETosis. These pathways, essential for inflammation and pathogen elimination, bear the risk of uncontrolled activation leading to excessive tissue damage and persistent inflammation. This pioneering study is the first to identify the formation of NETs and inflammasomes during Pneumocystis infection, paving the way for comprehensive investigations into treatments aimed at mitigating lung damage and augmenting survival rates for individuals with PjP.

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  1. Beth Garvy

    Review 1: "Pneumocystis Murina Promotes Inflammasome Formation and NETosis during Pneumocystis Pneumonia"

    The reviewers find that this study provides interesting initial observations on the involvement of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and inflammasome activation in a mouse model of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PJP).