Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cigarette smoke exposure lead to dysregulated MAIT cell activation by bronchial epithelial cells
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with airway inflammation, increased infiltration by CD8+ T lymphocytes, and infection-driven exacerbations. COPD is most commonly caused by cigarette smoke (CS), however the mechanisms driving development of COPD in some smokers but not others are incompletely understood. Lung-resident mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells play a role in both microbial infections and inflammatory diseases. MAIT cell frequency is reduced in the
... pheral blood of individuals with COPD, however the role of MAIT cells in COPD pathology is unknown. Here, we examined MAIT cell activation in response to CS-exposed primary human bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) from healthy, COPD, or smoker donors. We observed significantly higher MAIT cell responses to COPD BEC than healthy BEC. However, COPD BEC stimulated a smaller fold-increase in MAIT cell response despite increased microbial infection. For all donor groups, CS-exposed BEC elicited reduced MAIT cell responses; conversely, CS exposure increased ligand-mediated MR1 surface translocation in healthy and COPD BEC. Our data demonstrate MAIT cell activation is dysregulated in the context of CS and COPD. MAIT cells could contribute to CS- and COPD-associated inflammation through both inappropriate activation and reduced early recognition of bacterial infection, contributing to microbial persistence and COPD exacerbations.