Mitochondrial N-formyl peptides cause airway contraction and lung neutrophil infiltration via formyl peptide receptor activation

Camilla Ferreira Wenceslau, Theodora Szasz, Cameron G. McCarthy, Babak Baban, Elizabeth NeSmith, R. Clinton Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Respiratory failure is a common characteristic of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and sepsis. Trauma and severe blood loss cause the release of endogenous molecules known as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Mitochondrial N-formyl peptides (F-MITs) are DAMPs that share similarities with bacterial N-formylated peptides, and are potent immune system activators. Recently, we observed that hemorrhagic shock-induced increases in plasma levels of F-MITs associated with lung damage, and that antagonism of formyl peptide receptors (FPR) ameliorated hemorrhagic shock-induced lung injury in rats. Corroborating these data, in the present study, it was observed that F-MITs expression is higher in plasma samples from trauma patients with SIRS or sepsis when compared to control trauma group. Therefore, to better understand the role of F-MITs in the regulation of lung and airway function, we studied the hypothesis that F-MITs lead to airway contraction and lung inflammation. We observed that F-MITs induced concentration-dependent contraction in trachea, bronchi and bronchioles. However, pre-treatment with mast cells degranulator or FPR antagonist decreased this response. Finally, intratracheal challenge with F-MITs increased neutrophil elastase expression in lung and inducible nitric oxide synthase and cell division control protein 42 expression in all airway segments. These data suggest that F-MITs could be a putative target to treat respiratory failure in trauma patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Airway and lung inflammation
  • Mitochondrial N-formyl peptides
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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