Mice with inactivation of NOX2, globally or in macrophages, spontaneously acquire an activated alveolar macrophage phenotype by adulthood.
Epigenetic and transcriptional profiles of NOX2-deleted AMs are influence by their niche and primed to generate inflammation.
The leukocyte NADPH oxidase 2 (NOX2) plays a key role in pathogen killing and immunoregulation. Genetic defects in NOX2 result in chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), associated with microbial infections and inflammatory disorders, often involving the lung. Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are the predominant immune cell in the airways at steady state, and limiting their activation is important, given the constant exposure to inhaled materials, yet the importance of NOX2 in this process is not well understood. In this study, we showed a previously undescribed role for NOX2 in maintaining lung homeostasis by suppressing AM activation, in CGD mice or mice with selective loss of NOX2 preferentially in macrophages. AMs lacking NOX2 had increased cytokine responses to Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2) and TLR4 stimulation ex vivo. Moreover, between 4 and 12 week of age, mice with global NOX2 deletion developed an activated CD11bhigh subset of AMs with epigenetic and transcriptional profiles reflecting immune activation compared with WT AMs. The presence of CD11bhigh AMs in CGD mice correlated with an increased number of alveolar neutrophils and proinflammatory cytokines at steady state and increased lung inflammation after insults. Moreover, deletion of NOX2 preferentially in macrophages was sufficient for mice to develop an activated CD11bhigh AM subset and accompanying proinflammatory sequelae. In addition, we showed that the altered resident macrophage transcriptional profile in the absence of NOX2 is tissue specific, as those changes were not seen in resident peritoneal macrophages. Thus, these data demonstrate that the absence of NOX2 in alveolar macrophages leads to their proinflammatory remodeling and dysregulates alveolar homeostasis.