An apoptosis-differentiation program in human polymorphonuclear leukocytes facilitates resolution of inflammation

Scott D. Kobayashi, Jovanka M. Voyich, Greg A. Somerville, Kevin R. Braughton, Harry L. Malech, James M. Musser, Frank R. DeLeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) are an essential part of innate immunity and contribute significantly to inflammation. Although much is understood about the inflammatory response, the molecular basis for termination of inflammation in humans is largely undefined. We used human oligonucleotide microarrays to identify genes differentially regulated during the onset of apoptosis occurring after PMN phagocytosis. Genes encoding proteins that regulate cell metabolism and vesicle trafficking comprised 198 (98 genes induced, 100 genes repressed) of 867 differentially expressed genes. We discovered that complex cellular pathways involving glutathione and thioredoxin detoxification systems, heme catabolism, ubiquitin-proteasome degradation, purine nucleotide metabolism, and nuclear import were regulated at the level of gene expression during the initial stages of PMN apoptosis. Eleven genes encoding key regulators of glycolysis, the hexose monophosphate shunt, the glycerol-phosphate shuttle, and oxidative phosphorylation were induced. Increased levels of cellular reduced glutathione and γ-glutamyltransferase and glycolytic activity confirmed that several of these metabolic pathways were up-regulated. In contrast, seven genes encoding critical enzymes involved in fatty acid β-oxidation, which can generate toxic lipid peroxides, were down-regulated. Our results indicate that energy metabolism and oxidative stress-response pathways are gene-regulated during PMN apoptosis. We propose that changes in PMN gene expression leading to programmed cell death are part of an apoptosis-differentiation program, a final stage of transcriptionally regulated PMN maturation that is accelerated significantly by phagocytosis. These findings provide new insight into the molecular events that contribute to the resolution of inflammation in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-322
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Metabolism
  • Microarray
  • Neutrophil
  • Phagocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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