Neutrophils Find Smoke Attractive

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Science  01 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6000, pp. 40-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.1196017

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Although neutrophils defend the lung against bacterial and viral infections, they also promote an inflammatory response that can lead to several lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. These diseases are difficult to treat with anti-inflammatory steroids (glucocorticoids) because they actually increase neutrophil survival. In addition, T helper 17 cells, which may drive neutrophilic inflammation in the lungs, respond poorly to glucocorticoids (1). So far, nonsteroid-based anti-inflammatory drugs that target neutrophilic inflammation have had limited use because of side effects (2). On page 90 of this issue, Snelgrove et al. (3) describe how a neutrophil enzyme, leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H), controls inflammation, with implications for new therapeutic strategies to treat debilitating lung disorders.