Urokinase (uPA) is hypothesized to provide proteolytic activity enabling inflammatory cells to traverse tissues during recruitment, and it is implicated as a cytokine modulator. Definitive evaluation of these hypotheses in vivo has previously been impossible because uPA could not completely and irreversibly be eliminated. This limitation has been overcome through the development of uPA-deficient transgenic mice (uPA-/-). Using these mice, we evaluated the importance of uPA in the pulmonary inflammatory response to Cryptococcus neoformans (strain 52D). C. neoformans was inoculated into uPA-/- and control mice (uPA+/+), and cell recruitment to the lungs was quantitated. The number of CFU in lung, spleen and brain was determined to assess clearance, and survival curves were generated. By day 21 after inoculation, uPA-/- mice had markedly fewer pulmonary inflammatory (CD45+), CD4+, and CD11b/CD18+ cells compared with uPA+/+ controls (P<0.0007); pulmonary CFUs in the uPA-/- mice continued to increase, whereas CFUs diminished in uPA+/+ mice(P<0.005). In survival studies, only 3/19 uPA+/+ mice died, whereas 15/19 uPA-/- mice died (p<0.001). We have demonstrated that uPA is required for a pulmonary inflammatory response to C. neoformans. Lack of uPA results in inadequate cellular recruitment, uncontrolled infection, and death.
M R Gyetko, G H Chen, R A McDonald, R Goodman, G B Huffnagle, C C Wilkinson, J A Fuller, G B Toews