Acute lung injury is characterized by excessive extracellular matrix proteolysis and neutrophilic inflammation. A major risk factor for lung injury is bacterial pneumonia. However, host factors that protect against pathogen-induced and host-sustained proteolytic injury following infection are poorly understood. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is a major cause of nosocomial pneumonia and secretes proteases to amplify tissue injury. We show that thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), a matricellular glycoprotein released during inflammation, dose-dependently inhibits PA metalloendoprotease LasB, a virulence factor. TSP-1–deficient (Thbs1–/–) mice show reduced survival, impaired host defense, and increased lung permeability with exaggerated neutrophil activation following acute intrapulmonary PA infection. Administration of TSP-1 from platelets corrects the impaired host defense and aberrant injury in Thbs1–/– mice. Although TSP-1 is cleaved into 2 fragments by PA, TSP-1 substantially inhibits Pseudomonas elastolytic activity. Administration of LasB inhibitor, genetic disabling of the PA type II secretion system, or functional deletion of LasB improves host defense and neutrophilic inflammation in mice. Moreover, TSP-1 provides an additional line of defense by directly subduing host-derived proteolysis, with dose-dependent inhibition of neutrophil elastase from airway neutrophils of mechanically ventilated critically ill patients. Thus, a host matricellular protein provides dual levels of protection against pathogen-initiated and host-sustained proteolytic injury following microbial trigger.


Yanyan Qu, Tolani Olonisakin, William Bain, Jill Zupetic, Rebecca Brown, Mei Hulver, Zeyu Xiong, Jesus Tejero, Robert M.Q. Shanks, Jennifer M. Bomberger, Vaughn S. Cooper, Michael E. Zegans, Hyunryul Ryu, Jongyoon Han, Joseph Pilewski, Anuradha Ray, Zhenyu Cheng, Prabir Ray, Janet S. Lee


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