Cystic Fibrosis Defective Response to Infection Involves Autophagy and Lipid Metabolism

Alessandra Mingione, Emerenziana Ottaviano, Matteo Barcella, Ivan Merelli, Lorenzo Rosso, Tatiana Armeni, Natalia Cirilli, Riccardo Ghidoni, Elisa Borghi, Paola Signorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease, with 70% of patients developing a proteinopathy related to the deletion of phenylalanine 508. CF is associated with multiple organ dysfunction, chronic inflammation, and recurrent lung infections. CF is characterized by defective autophagy, lipid metabolism, and immune response. Intracellular lipid accumulation favors microbial infection, and autophagy deficiency impairs internalized pathogen clearance. Myriocin, an inhibitor of sphingolipid synthesis, significantly reduces inflammation, promotes microbial clearance in the lungs, and induces autophagy and lipid oxidation. RNA-seq was performed in Aspergillusfumigatus-infected and myriocin-treated CF patients' derived monocytes and in a CF bronchial epithelial cell line. Fungal clearance was also evaluated in CF monocytes. Myriocin enhanced CF patients' monocytes killing of A. fumigatus. CF patients' monocytes and cell line responded to infection with a profound transcriptional change; myriocin regulates genes that are involved in inflammation, autophagy, lipid storage, and metabolism, including histones and heat shock proteins whose activity is related to the response to infection. We conclude that the regulation of sphingolipid synthesis induces a metabolism drift by promoting autophagy and lipid consumption. This process is driven by a transcriptional program that corrects part of the differences between CF and control samples, therefore ameliorating the infection response and pathogen clearance in the CF cell line and in CF peripheral blood monocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1845
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 6 2020


  • Aspergillus fumigatus
  • autophagy
  • cystic fibrosis
  • myriocin
  • sphingolipids


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