Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is secreted as an acute phase protein during inflammation. The main mechanism regulating the size and prothrombotic activity of VWF is the specific proteolytic activity of ADAMTS-13. To determine the relevance of this regulatory pathway for the innate inflammatory response by polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN), we employed a mouse model of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) where PMN functionality is crucial for fungal clearance and survival. IPA was induced by intratracheal application of Aspergillus fumigatus conidia in wild-type (129/Sv/Pas) or Adamts13 deficient (Adamts13-/-) mice. After PMN depletion using a anti-Gr-1 specific antibody, all mice infected with Aspergillus fumigatus conidia developed neutropenia and succumbed due to lethal IPA. In contrast, all undepleted wild-type mice survived the infection. Interestingly, Aspergillus fumigatus infection in Adamts13-/- mice was lethal in 20% of the animals displaying a more severe course of IPA, as indicated by an increased fungal burden in lung homogenates along with increased levels of albumin and the inflammatory mediators IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, KC and MCP-1 in the bronchio-alveolar lavage fluid (BALF) compared to wild-type controls. Beyond this, we observed a decreased number of PMN in BALF of infected Adamts13-/- mice compared to wild-type mice. Lung histology sections demonstrated a more pronounced perivascular leukocyte infiltration in further support of a dysregulated inflammatory response in Adamts13-/- mice. Importantly, we observed no general defect in the activation of neutrophil effector functions as demonstrated by the normal induction of the oxidative burst, phagocytosis, degranulation, L-selectin shedding and apoptosis in response to formyl-peptide receptor agonists or exposure to Aspergillus fumigatus conidia or hyphae in vitro. Therefore, we conclude that the proteolytic regulation of VWF by ADAMTS-13 in an important mechanism to control PMN recruitment in the regulation of the innate inflammatory response in invasive fungal infections.


Radsak:Celgene: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.