Neutrophils are the most abundant leukocytes in human blood. Beside being essential responders in bacterial and fungal infections, they also contribute to tissue reactions in many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Although several immune responses linked to neutrophil functions have been described to be rhythmic, the mechanism of the circadian regulation of these cells is still not understood. Characterization of the time-of-day-specific control of neutrophil responsiveness could help to better understand the pathomechanism of these inflammatory responses and design effective chronotherapy. Here we report that the time-dependent expression of core clock components in human neutrophils characteristically differs from that in mononuclear cells. Both the low expression and the reduced nuclear accumulation of the essential clock protein BMAL1 suggest that the molecular oscillator is down-regulated in neutrophils. By following the expression of the maturation marker Cxcr4 and morphological attributes (side-scattering properties and nuclear segmentation), we found that the distribution of young and aged cells within the peripheral neutrophil pool displays a daily rhythm. In addition, we detected synchronous fluctuations in the plasma level of the CXCR4 ligand CXCL12, an important regulator of cell trafficking within the bone marrow. We found that expression of another maturation marker, the core component of the superoxide generating NADPH oxidase, and parallelly, the superoxide producing capacity of neutrophils were also dependent on the time of the day. In line with this, number of opsonized bacteria engulfed by neutrophils also showed time-dependent differences, supporting that clearance of pathogens shows a daily rhythm. We suggest that maturation-dependent changes in neutrophil responsiveness rather than the cellular autonomous clock are involved in the daily regulation of human neutrophil functions.
- Clock gene
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems