The extent to which defective innate immune responses contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not fully understood. Pulmonary surfactant protein A (SP-A) plays an important role in regulating innate immunity in the lungs. In this study, we hypothesised that cigarette smoke (CS) and its component acrolein might influence pulmonary innate immunity by affecting the function of SP-A. Indeed, acrolein-modified SP-A was detected in the lungs of mice exposed to CS for 1 week. To further confirm this finding, recombinant human SP-A (hSP-A) was incubated with CS extract (CSE) or acrolein and then analysed by western blotting and nanoscale liquid chromatography-matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry. These analyses revealed that CSE and acrolein induced hSP-A oligomerisation and that acrolein induced the modification of six residues in hSP-A: His39, His116, Cys155, Lys180, Lys221, and Cys224. These modifications had significant effects on the innate immune functions of hSP-A. CSE- or acrolein-induced modification of hSP-A significantly decreased hSP-A's ability to inhibit bacterial growth and to enhance macrophage phagocytosis. These findings suggest that CS-induced structural and functional defects in SP-A contribute to the dysfunctional innate immune responses observed in the lung during cigarette smoking.
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