Neutrophils drive type I interferon production and autoantibodies in patients with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

KE Cervantes-Luevano, N Caronni, MC Castiello, E Fontana, GM Piperno, A Naseem, P Uva, M Bosticardo, GE Marcovecchio, LD Notarangelo, MP Cicalese, A Aiuti, A Villa, F Benvenuti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is a rare primary immunodeficiency caused by mutations in Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASp), a key regulator of cytoskeletal dynamics in hematopoietic cells. A high proportion of patients experience autoimmunity caused by a breakdown in T- and B-cell tolerance. Moreover, excessive production of type I interferon (IFN-I) by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) contributes to autoimmune signs; however, the factors that trigger excessive innate activation have not been defined. Objective: Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) emerged as major initiating factors in patients with diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. In this study we explored the possible involvement of aberrant neutrophil functions in patients with WAS. Methods: We evaluated the expression of a set of granulocyte genes associated with NETs in a cohort of patients with WAS and the presence of NET inducers in sera. Using a mouse model of WAS, we analyzed NET release by WASp-null neutrophils and evaluated the composition and homeostasis of neutrophils in vivo. By using depletion experiments, we assessed the effect of neutrophils in promoting inflammation and reactivity against autoantigens. Results: Transcripts of genes encoding neutrophil enzymes and antimicrobial peptides were increased in granulocytes of patients with WAS, and serum-soluble factors triggered NET release. WASp-null neutrophils showed increased spontaneous NETosis, induced IFN-I production by pDCs, and activated B cells through B-cell activating factor. Consistently, their depletion abolished constitutive pDC activation, normalized circulating IFN-I levels, and, importantly, abolished production of autoantibodies directed against double-stranded DNA, nucleosomes, and myeloperoxidase. Conclusions: These findings reveal that neutrophils are involved in the pathogenic loop that causes excessive activation of innate cells and autoreactive B cells, thus identifying novel mechanisms that contribute to the autoimmunity of WAS. © 2018 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1605–1617.e4
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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