Migration of human inflammatory cells into the lung results in the remodeling of arachidonic acid into a triglyceride pool

Massimo Triggiani, Alfonso Oriente, Michael C. Seeds, David A. Bass, Gianni Marone, Floyd H. Chilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence suggests that the metabolism of arachidonic acid (AA) may be different in inflammatory cells isolated from blood or migrating into tissues. To explore the possibility that changes in AA metabolism between blood and tissue inflammatory cells could be due in part to a different content or distribution of AA in glycerolipid classes, we studied these parameters in six human inflammatory cells isolated from blood (eosinophils, monocytes, neutrophils, and platelets) or from the lung tissue (mast cells and macrophages). Lung cells generally had a higher total cellular content of AA than that found in the blood cells. In addition, both mast cells and macrophages had a large endogenous pool of AA associated with triglycerides (TG), containing 45 and 22% of their total cellular AA, respectively. To address the hypothesis that cells migrating into the lung had a higher cellular level of AA and a larger AA pool in TG, we studied neutrophils isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) of patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome. BAL neutrophils had a fourfold increase in cellular AA as compared with blood neutrophils and contained 25% of their AA in TG versus 3% in blood neutrophils. BAL neutrophils also had a higher number of cytoplasmic lipid bodies (8 ± 3/cell) relative to blood neutrophils (2 ± 1/cell). High concentrations of free AA were also found in the cell-free BAL fluid of adult respiratory distress syndrome patients. To explore whether changes in BAL neutrophils may be due to the exposure of the cells to high concentrations of exogenous AA found in BAL, we incubated blood neutrophils in culture with AA (10-100 μM) for 24 h. Neutrophils supplemented with AA had a 10-fold increase in the amount of AA associated with TG and a sixfold increase in the number of lipids bodies. In addition, supplementation with AA induced a dose-dependent formation of hypodense cells. Taken together, these data indicate that human inflammatory cells undergo a fundamental and consistent remodeling of AA pools as they mature or enter the lung from the blood. These biochemical and morphological changes can be mimicked in vitro by exposing the cells to high levels of AA. This mechanism may be responsible for the changes in AA mobilization and eicosanoid metabolism observed in tissue inflammatory cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1181-1190
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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