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Sendler, Matthias; Weiss, Frank-Ulrich; Golchert, Janine; Homuth, Georg; Brandt, Cindy van den; Mahajan, Ujjwal M.; Partecke, Lars-Ivo; Doering, Paula; Gukovsky, Ilya; Gukovskaya, Anna S.; Wagh, Preshit R.; Lerch, Markus M.; Mayerle, Julia (2018): Cathepsin B-Mediated Activation of Trypsinogen in Endocytosing Macrophages Increases Severity of Pancreatitis in Mice. In: Gastroenterology, Vol. 154, No. 3: pp. 704-718
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Acute pancreatitis is characterized by premature intracellular activation of digestive proteases within pancreatic acini and a consecutive systemic inflammatory response. We investigated how these processes interact during severe pancreatitis in mice. METHODS: Pancreatitis was induced in C57Bl/6 wild-type (control), cathepsin B (CTSB)-knockout, and cathepsin L-knockout mice by partial pancreatic duct ligation with supramaximal caerulein injection, or by repetitive supramaximal caerulein injections alone. Immune cells that infiltrated the pancreas were characterized by immunofluorescence detection of Ly6g, CD206, and CD68. Macrophages were isolated from bone marrow and incubated with bovine trypsinogen or isolated acinar cells;the macrophages were then transferred into pancreatitis control or cathepsin-knockout mice. Activities of proteases and nuclear factor (NF)-kappa B were determined using fluorogenic substrates and trypsin activity was blocked by nafamostat. Cytokine levels were measured using a cytometric bead array. We performed immunohistochemical analyses to detect trypsinogen, CD206, and CD68 in human chronic pancreatitis (n = 13) and acute necrotizing pancreatitis (n = 15) specimens. RESULTS: Macrophages were the predominant immune cell population that migrated into the pancreas during induction of pancreatitis in control mice. CD68-positive macrophages were found to phagocytose acinar cell components, including zymogen-containing vesicles, in pancreata from mice with pancreatitis, as well as human necrotic pancreatic tissues. Trypsinogen became activated in macrophages cultured with purified trypsinogen or co-cultured with pancreatic acini and in pancreata of mice with pancreatitis;trypsinogen activation required macrophage endocytosis and expression and activity of CTSB, and was sensitive to pH. Activation of trypsinogen in macrophages resulted in translocation of NF-kappa B and production of inflammatory cytokines;mice without trypsinogen activation (CTSB-knockout mice) in macrophages developed less severe pancreatitis compared with control mice. Transfer of macrophage from control mice to CTSB-knockout mice increased the severity of pancreatitis. Inhibition of trypsin activity in macrophages prevented translocation of NF-kappa B and production of inflammatory cytokines. CONCLUSIONS: Studying pancreatitis in mice, we found activation of digestive proteases to occur not only in acinar cells but also in macrophages that infiltrate pancreatic tissue. Activation of the proteases in macrophage occurs during endocytosis of zymogen-containing vesicles, and depends on pH and CTSB. This process involves macrophage activation via NF-kappa B-translocation, and contributes to systemic inflammation and severity of pancreatitis.