Eosinophils promote tissue injury and contribute to the pathogenesis of allergen-triggered diseases like asthma, but the chemical basis of damage to eosinophil targets is unknown. We now demonstrate that eosinophil activation in vivo results in oxidative damage of proteins through bromination of tyrosine residues, a heretofore unrecognized pathway for covalent modification of biologic targets in human tissues. Mass spectrometric studies demonstrated that 3-bromotyrosine serves as a specific “molecular fingerprint” for proteins modified through the eosinophil peroxidase-H2O2 system in the presence of plasma levels of halides. We applied a localized allergen challenge to model the effects of eosinophils and brominating oxidants in human lung injury. Endobronchial biopsy specimens from allergen-challenged lung segments of asthmatic, but not healthy control, subjects demonstrated significant enrichments in eosinophils and eosinophil peroxidase. Baseline levels of 3-bromotyrosine in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) proteins from mildly allergic asthmatic individuals were modestly but not statistically significantly elevated over those in control subjects. After exposure to segmental allergen challenge, lung segments of asthmatics, but not healthy control subjects, exhibited a >10-fold increase in BAL 3-bromotyrosine content, but only two- to threefold increases in 3-chlorotyrosine, a specific oxidation product formed by neutrophil- and monocyte-derived myeloperoxidase. These results identify reactive brominating species produced by eosinophils as a distinct class of oxidants formed in vivo. They also reveal eosinophil peroxidase as a potential therapeutic target for allergen-triggered inflammatory tissue injury in humans.
Weijia Wu, Michael K. Samoszuk, Suzy A.A. Comhair, Mary Jane Thomassen, Carol F. Farver, Raed A. Dweik, Mani S. Kavuru, Serpil C. Erzurum, Stanley L. Hazen