An evaluation of CD39 as a novel immunoregulatory mechanism invoked by COPD
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Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD) are characterized by increased pulmonary and systemic inflammation and commonly caused by bacterial and/or viral infection. Little is known about the T-cell dysregulation in AECOPD that promotes these outcomes. CD39 is an ectonucleotidase able to hydrolyse adenosine triphosphate to create adenosine that may inhibit T-cell responses in patients with AECOPD. Here T-cell expression of CD39 measured by flow cytometry was higher in AECOPD patients than stable COPD patients or healthy controls. Higher expression of CD39 was associated with higher levels of plasma soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor but lower interferon-γ (IFNγ) levels in supernatants from staphylococcal enterotoxin-B stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. This links increased expression of CD39 with systemic inflammation and impaired T-cell responses (e.g. IFNγ). The blockade of CD39 pathways may be a novel approach to the control of AECOPD, reducing the dependency on antibiotics.
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