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1.  Interleukin-1α controls allergic sensitization to inhaled house dust mite via the epithelial release of GM-CSF and IL-33 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(8):1505-1517.
IL-1α promotes a cascade of cytokine production from epithelial cells culminating in Th2 immunity to house dust mite allergens.
House dust mite (HDM) is one of the most common allergens worldwide. In this study, we have addressed the involvement of IL-1 in the interaction between HDM and the innate immune response driven by lung epithelial cells (ECs) and dendritic cells (DCs) that leads to asthma. Mice lacking IL-1R on radioresistant cells, but not hematopoietic cells, failed to mount a Th2 immune response and did not develop asthma to HDM. Experiments performed in vivo and in isolated air–liquid interface cultures of bronchial ECs showed that TLR4 signals induced the release of IL-1α, which then acted in an autocrine manner to trigger the release of DC-attracting chemokines, GM-CSF, and IL-33. Consequently, allergic sensitization to HDM was abolished in vivo when IL-1α, GM-CSF, or IL-33 was neutralized. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) became important only when high doses of allergen were administered. These findings put IL-1α upstream in the cytokine cascade leading to epithelial and DC activation in response to inhaled HDM allergen.
PMCID: PMC3409497  PMID: 22802353
2.  Neutralization of TSLP Inhibits Airway Remodeling in a Murine Model of Allergic Asthma Induced by Chronic Exposure to House Dust Mite 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51268.
Chronic allergic asthma is characterized by Th2-typed inflammation, and contributes to airway remodeling and the deterioration of lung function. However, the initiating factor that links airway inflammation to remodeling is unknown. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), an epithelium-derived cytokine, can strongly activate lung dendritic cells (DCs) through the TSLP-TSLPR and OX40L-OX40 signaling pathways to promote Th2 differentiation. To determine whether TSLP is the underlying trigger of airway remodeling in chronic allergen-induced asthma, we induced allergic airway inflammation in mice by intranasal administration of house dust mite (HDM) extracts for up to 5 consecutive weeks. We showed that repeated respiratory exposure to HDM caused significant airway eosinophilic inflammation, peribronchial collagen deposition, goblet cell hyperplasia, and airway hyperreactivity (AHR) to methacholine. These effects were accompanied with a salient Th2 response that was characterized by the upregulation of Th2-typed cytokines, such as IL-4 and IL-13, as well as the transcription factor GATA-3. Moreover, the levels of TSLP and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) were also increased in the airway. We further demonstrated, using the chronic HDM-induced asthma model, that the inhibition of Th2 responses via neutralization of TSLP with an anti-TSLP mAb reversed airway inflammation, prevented structural alterations, and decreased AHR to methacholine and TGF-β1 level. These results suggest that TSLP plays a pivotal role in the initiation and persistence of airway inflammation and remodeling in the context of chronic allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3534685  PMID: 23300949
3.  Protease-Activated Receptor-2 Activation Contributes to House Dust Mite-Induced IgE Responses in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91206.
Aeroallergens such as house dust mite (HDM), cockroach, and grass or tree pollen are innocuous substances that can induce allergic sensitization upon inhalation. The serine proteases present in these allergens are thought to activate the protease-activated receptor (PAR)-2, on the airway epithelium, thereby potentially inducing allergic sensitization at the expense of inhalation tolerance. We hypothesized that the proteolytic activity of allergens may play an important factor in the allergenicity to house dust mite and is essential to overcome airway tolerance. Here, we aimed to investigate the role of PAR-2 activation in allergic sensitization and HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation. In our study, Par-2 deficient mice were treated with two different HDM extracts containing high and low serine protease activities twice a week for a period of 5 weeks. We determined airway inflammation through quantification of percentages of mononuclear cells, eosinophils and neutrophils in the bronchial alveolar lavage fluid and measured total IgE and HDM-specific IgE and IgG1 levels in serum. Furthermore, Th2 and pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-5, IL-13, Eotaxin-1, IL-17, KC, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 17 (CCL17) and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), were measured in lung tissue homogenates. We observed that independent of the serine protease content, HDM was able to induce elevated levels of eosinophils and neutrophils in the airways of both wild-type (WT) and Par-2 deficient mice. Furthermore, we show that induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by HDM exposure is independent of Par-2 activation. In contrast, serine protease activity of HDM does contribute to enhanced levels of total IgE, but not HDM-specific IgE. We conclude that, while Par-2 activation contributes to the development of IgE responses, it is largely dispensable for the HDM-induced induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and airway inflammation in an experimental mouse model of HDM-driven allergic airway disease.
PMCID: PMC3961228  PMID: 24651123
4.  IL-25 drives remodelling in allergic airways disease induced by house dust mite 
Thorax  2012;68(1):82-90.
Overexpression of the transforming growth factor β family signalling molecule smad2 in the airway epithelium provokes enhanced allergen-induced airway remodelling in mice, concomitant with elevated levels of interleukin (IL)-25.
We investigated whether IL-25 plays an active role in driving this airway remodelling.
Anti-IL-25 antibody was given to mice exposed to either inhaled house dust mite (HDM) alone, or in conjunction with an adenoviral smad2 vector which promotes an enhanced remodelling phenotype.
Blocking IL-25 in allergen-exposed mice resulted in a moderate reduction in pulmonary eosinophilia and levels of T helper type 2 associated cytokines, IL-5 and IL-13. In addition, IL-25 neutralisation abrogated peribronchial collagen deposition, airway smooth muscle hyperplasia and airway hyperreactivity in control mice exposed to HDM and smad2-overexpressing mice. IL-25 was shown to act directly on human fibroblasts to induce collagen secretion. Recruitment of endothelial progenitor cells to the lung and subsequent neovascularisation was also IL-25 dependent, demonstrating a direct role for IL-25 during angiogenesis in vivo. Moreover, the secretion of innate epithelial derived cytokines IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) was completely ablated.
In addition to modulating acute inflammation, we now demonstrate a role for IL-25 in orchestrating airway remodelling. IL-25 also drives IL-33 and TSLP production in the lung. These data delineate a wider role for IL-25 in mediating structural changes to the lung following allergen exposure and implicate IL-25 as a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of airway remodelling in asthma.
PMCID: PMC3534261  PMID: 23093652
Airway Epithelium; Allergic lung disease; Asthma; Asthma Mechanisms
5.  Neutralisation of Interleukin-13 in Mice Prevents Airway Pathology Caused by Chronic Exposure to House Dust Mite 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13136.
Repeated exposure to inhaled allergen can cause airway inflammation, remodeling and dysfunction that manifests as the symptoms of allergic asthma. We have investigated the role of the cytokine interleukin-13 (IL-13) in the generation and persistence of airway cellular inflammation, bronchial remodeling and deterioration in airway function in a model of allergic asthma caused by chronic exposure to the aeroallergen House Dust Mite (HDM).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice were exposed to HDM via the intranasal route for 4 consecutive days per week for up to 8 consecutive weeks. Mice were treated either prophylactically or therapeutically with a potent neutralising anti-IL-13 monoclonal antibody (mAb) administered subcutaneously (s.c.). Airway cellular inflammation was assessed by flow cytometry, peribronchial collagen deposition by histocytochemistry and airway hyperreactivity (AHR) by invasive measurement of lung resistance (RL) and dynamic compliance (Cdyn). Both prophylactic and therapeutic treatment with an anti-IL-13 mAb significantly inhibited (P<0.05) the generation and maintenance of chronic HDM-induced airway cellular inflammation, peribronchial collagen deposition, epithelial goblet cell upregulation. AHR to inhaled methacholine was reversed by prophylactic but not therapeutic treatment with anti-IL-13 mAb. Both prophylactic and therapeutic treatment with anti-IL-13 mAb significantly reversed (P<0.05) the increase in baseline RL and the decrease in baseline Cdyn caused by chronic exposure to inhaled HDM.
These data demonstrate that in a model of allergic lung disease driven by chronic exposure to a clinically relevant aeroallergen, IL-13 plays a significant role in the generation and persistence of airway inflammation, remodeling and dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC2948524  PMID: 20957211
6.  Innate immune responses of airway epithelium to house dust mite are mediated through β-glucan–dependent pathways 
House dust mite (HDM) induces allergic asthma in sensitized individuals, although the mechanisms by which HDM is sensed and recognized by the airway mucosa, leading to dendritic cell (DC) recruitment, activation, and subsequent TH2-mediated responses, are unknown.
We sought to define the pathways by which HDM activates respiratory epithelium to induce allergic airway responses.
Using a human airway epithelial cell line (16HBE14o-), we studied secretion of the DC chemokine CCL20 after exposure to HDM or other allergens, investigated components of the HDM responsible for the induction of chemokine release, and examined activation of signaling pathways. Central findings were also confirmed in primary human bronchial cells.
We demonstrate that exposure of airway epithelium to HDM results in specific and rapid secretion of CCL20, a chemokine attractant for immature DCs. The induction of CCL20 secretion is dose and time dependent and quite specific to HDM because other allergens, such as ragweed pollen and cockroach antigen, fail to significantly induce CCL20 secretion. Induction of CCL20 secretion is not protease or Toll-like receptor 2/4 dependent but, interestingly, relies on β-glucan moieties within the HDM extract, as evidenced by the ability of other β-glucans to competitively inhibit its secretion and by the fact that disruption of these structures by treatment of HDM with β-glucanase significantly reduces subsequent chemokine secretion.
Taken together, our results describe a novel mechanism for specific pattern recognition of HDM-derived β-glucan moieties, which initiates allergic airway inflammation and, through recruitment of DCs, might link innate pattern recognition at the airway surface with adaptive immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2761684  PMID: 19178937
Asthma; allergy; house dust mite; epithelium; dendritic cell; chemokine; pattern recognition; innate immunity
7.  Airway epithelial SPDEF integrates goblet cell differentiation and pulmonary Th2 inflammation 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2015;125(5):2021-2031.
Epithelial cells that line the conducting airways provide the initial barrier and innate immune responses to the abundant particles, microbes, and allergens that are inhaled throughout life. The transcription factors SPDEF and FOXA3 are both selectively expressed in epithelial cells lining the conducting airways, where they regulate goblet cell differentiation and mucus production. Moreover, these transcription factors are upregulated in chronic lung disorders, including asthma. Here, we show that expression of SPDEF or FOXA3 in airway epithelial cells in neonatal mice caused goblet cell differentiation, spontaneous eosinophilic inflammation, and airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine. SPDEF expression promoted DC recruitment and activation in association with induction of Il33, Csf2, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (Tslp), and Ccl20 transcripts. Increased Il4, Il13, Ccl17, and Il25 expression was accompanied by recruitment of Th2 lymphocytes, group 2 innate lymphoid cells, and eosinophils to the lung. SPDEF was required for goblet cell differentiation and pulmonary Th2 inflammation in response to house dust mite (HDM) extract, as both were decreased in neonatal and adult Spdef–/– mice compared with control animals. Together, our results indicate that SPDEF causes goblet cell differentiation and Th2 inflammation during postnatal development and is required for goblet cell metaplasia and normal Th2 inflammatory responses to HDM aeroallergen.
PMCID: PMC4463206  PMID: 25866971
Development; Genetics; Immunology; Inflammation; Therapeutics
8.  Natural killer cell NKG2D and granzyme B are critical for allergic pulmonary inflammation⋆ 
The diverse roles of innate immune cells in the pathogenesis of asthma remain to be fully defined. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that can regulate adaptive immune responses. NK cells are activated in asthma; however, their role in allergic airway inflammation is not fully understood.
We investigated the importance of NK cells in house dust mite (HDM)-triggered allergic pulmonary inflammation. Specifically, we aimed to determine the role of the major NK-cell activating receptor NKG2D and NK-cell effector functions mediated by granzyme B.
Allergic airway inflammation was induced in the airways of mice by repeated intranasal HDM extract administration and responses in wild-type and NKG2D-deficient mice were compared. Adoptive transfer studies were used to identify the cells and mechanisms involved.
Mice that lacked NKG2D were resistant to the induction of allergic inflammation and showed little pulmonary eosinophilia, few airway TH2 cells, and no rise in serum IgE after multiple HDM-allergen exposures. However, NKG2D was not required for pulmonary inflammation after a single inoculation of allergen. NKG2D-deficient mice showed no alteration in responses to respiratory virus infection. Transfer of wild-type NK cells (but not CD3+ cells) into NKG2D-deficient mice restored allergic inflammatory responses only if the NK cells expressed granzyme B.
These studies established a pivotal role for NK-cell NKG2D and granzyme B in the pathogenesis of HDM-induced allergic lung disease, and identified novel therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3969579  PMID: 24290277
Innate immunity; lung; natural killer cell; house dust mite; allergic inflammation; asthma; APC, Allophycocyanin; BAL, Bronchoalveolar lavage; HDM, House dust mite; KO, Knock-out; NK, Natural killer; RSV, Respiratory syncytial virus; WT, Wild type
9.  Innate Immune Response of Alveolar Macrophage to House Dust Mite Allergen Is Mediated through TLR2/-4 Co-Activation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75983.
House dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Der p), is one of the major allergens responsible for allergic asthma. However, the putative receptors involved in the signalization of Der p to the innate immune cells are still poorly defined as well as the impact of their activation on the outcome of the allergen-induced cell response. We previously reported that the HDM activation of mouse alveolar macrophages (AM) involves the TLR4/CD14 cell surface receptor complex. Here using a TLR ligand screening essay, we demonstrate that HDM protein extract engages the TLR2, in addition to the TLR4, in engineered TLR-transfected HEK cells but also in the MH-S mouse alveolar macrophage cell line model. Moreover we found that the concomitant recruitment of the MH-S cell’s TLR2 and TLR4 receptors by the HDM extract activates the MyD88-dependent signaling pathway and leads to the secretion of the NF-κB regulated pro-inflammatory factors NO and TNF-α. However unlike with the canonical TLR4 ligand (i.e. the bacterial LPS) mobilization of TLR4 by the HDM extract induces a reduced production of the IL-12 pro-inflammatory cytokine and fails to trigger the expression of the T-bet transcription factor. Finally we demonstrated that HDM extract down-regulates LPS induced IL-12 and T-bet expression through a TLR2 dependent mechanism. Therefore, we propose that the simultaneous engagement of the TLR2 and TLR4 receptors by the HDM extract results in a cross regulated original activation pattern of the AM which may contribute to the Th2 polarization of the allergen-induced immune response. The deciphering of these cross-regulation networks is of prime importance to open the way for original therapeutic strategies taking advantage of these receptors and their associated signaling pathways to treat allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3787959  PMID: 24098413
10.  Immune response to allergens in sheep sensitized to house dust mite 
House dust mite (HDM) allergens are a major cause of allergic asthma. Most studies using animal models of allergic asthma have used rodents sensitized with the 'un-natural' allergen ovalbumin. It has only recently been recognized that the use of animal models based on HDM provide a more relevant insight into the allergen-induced mechanisms that underpin human allergic disease. We have previously described a sheep model of human allergic asthma that uses Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus HDM. The present study extends our understanding of the immune effects of HDM and the allergens Der p 1 and Der p 2 in the sheep model of asthma.
Peripheral blood sera from non-sensitized (control) sheep and sheep sensitized to HDM was collected to determine immunoglobulin (Ig) reactivities to HDM, Der p 1 and Der p 2 by ELISA. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid collected following allergen challenge was also assessed for the presence of HDM-specific antibodies. To examine the cellular immune response to HDM allergens, T cell proliferation and cutaneous responses were assessed in sensitized and control sheep.
Strong HDM- and Der p 1-specific IgE, IgG1, IgG2 and IgA serum responses were observed in sensitized sheep, while detectable levels of HDM-specific IgG1 and IgA were seen in BAL fluid of allergen-challenged lungs. In contrast, minimal antibody reactivity was observed to Der p 2. Marked T cell proliferation and late phase cutaneous responses, accompanied by the recruitment of eosinophils, indicates the induction of a cellular and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) type II response by HDM and Der p 1 allergen, but not Der p 2.
This work characterizes the humoral and cellular immune effects of HDM extract and its major constituent allergens in sheep sensitized to HDM. The effects of allergen in HDM-sensitized sheep were detectable both locally and systemically, and probably mediated via enzymatic and immune actions of the major HDM allergen Der p 1. This study extends our understanding of the actions of this important allergen relevant to human allergic asthma and its effects in sheep experimentally sensitized to HDM allergens.
PMCID: PMC2577637  PMID: 18937841
11.  Innate Immune Responses in House Dust Mite Allergy 
ISRN Allergy  2013;2013:735031.
Sensitizations to house dust mites (HDM) trigger strong exacerbated allergen-induced inflammation of the skin and airways mucosa from atopic subjects resulting in atopic dermatitis as well as allergic rhinitis and asthma. Initially, the Th2-biased HDM allergic response was considered to be mediated only by allergen B- and T-cell epitopes to promote allergen-specific IgE production as well as IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 to recruit inflammatory cells. But this general molecular model of HDM allergenicity must be revisited as a growing literature suggests that stimulations of innate immune activation pathways by HDM allergens offer new answers to the following question: what makes an HDM allergen an allergen? Indeed, HDM is a carrier not only for allergenic proteins but also microbial adjuvant compounds, both of which are able to stimulate innate signaling pathways leading to allergy. This paper will describe the multiple ways used by HDM allergens together with microbial compounds to control the initiation of the allergic response through engagement of innate immunity.
PMCID: PMC3658386  PMID: 23724247
12.  Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein 1 Promotes House Dust Mite–Induced Airway Inflammation in Mice 
Peptidoglycan recognition protein (Pglyrp) 1 is a pattern-recognition protein that mediates antibacterial host defense. Because we had previously shown that Pglyrp1 expression is increased in the lungs of house dust mite (HDM)-challenged mice, we hypothesized that it might modulate the pathogenesis of asthma. Wild-type and Pglyrp1−/− mice on a BALB/c background received intranasal HDM or saline, 5 days/week for 3 weeks. HDM-challenged Pglyrp1−/− mice showed decreases in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid eosinophils and lymphocytes, serum IgE, and mucous cell metaplasia, whereas airway hyperresponsiveness was not changed when compared with wild-type mice. T helper type 2 (Th2) cytokines were reduced in the lungs of HDM-challenged Pglyrp1−/− mice, which reflected a decreased number of CD4+ Th2 cells. There was also a reduction in C-C chemokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lung homogenates from HDM-challenged Pglyrp1−/− mice. Furthermore, secretion of CCL17, CCL22, and CCL24 by alveolar macrophages from HDM-challenged Pglyrp1−/− mice was markedly reduced. As both inflammatory cells and airway epithelial cells express Pglyrp1, bone marrow transplantation was performed to generate chimeric mice and assess which cell type promotes HDM-induced airway inflammation. Chimeric mice lacking Pglyrp1 on hematopoietic cells, not structural cells, showed a reduction in HDM-induced eosinophilic and lymphocytic airway inflammation. We conclude that Pglyrp1 expressed by hematopoietic cells, such as alveolar macrophages, mediates HDM-induced airway inflammation by up-regulating the production of C-C chemokines that recruit eosinophils and Th2 cells to the lung. This identifies a new family of innate immune response proteins that promotes HDM-induced airway inflammation in asthma.
PMCID: PMC3931111  PMID: 23808363
asthma; house dust mite; innate immunity; pattern recognition proteins; peptidoglycan recognition protein 1
13.  Differential expression and function of breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39) in murine models of subacute cigarette smoke exposure and allergic airway inflammation 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):39.
While the presence of the chitinase-like molecule YKL40 has been reported in COPD and asthma, its relevance to inflammatory processes elicited by cigarette smoke and common environmental allergens, such as house dust mite (HDM), is not well understood. The objective of the current study was to assess expression and function of BRP-39, the murine equivalent of YKL40 in a murine model of cigarette smoke-induced inflammation and contrast expression and function to a model of HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation.
CD1, C57BL/6, and BALB/c mice were room air- or cigarette smoke-exposed for 4 days in a whole-body exposure system. In separate experiments, BALB/c mice were challenged with HDM extract once a day for 10 days. BRP-39 was assessed by ELISA and immunohistochemistry. IL-13, IL-1R1, IL-18, and BRP-39 knock out (KO) mice were utilized to assess the mechanism and relevance of BRP-39 in cigarette smoke- and HDM-induced airway inflammation.
Cigarette smoke exposure elicited a robust induction of BRP-39 but not the catalytically active chitinase, AMCase, in lung epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages of all mouse strains tested. Both BRP-39 and AMCase were increased in lung tissue after HDM exposure. Examining smoke-exposed IL-1R1, IL-18, and IL-13 deficient mice, BRP-39 induction was found to be IL-1 and not IL-18 or IL-13 dependent, while induction of BRP-39 by HDM was independent of IL-1 and IL-13. Despite the importance of BRP-39 in cellular inflammation in HDM-induced airway inflammation, BRP-39 was found to be redundant for cigarette smoke-induced airway inflammation and the adjuvant properties of cigarette smoke.
These data highlight the contrast between the importance of BRP-39 in HDM- and cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. While functionally important in HDM-induced inflammation, BRP-39 is a biomarker of cigarette smoke induced inflammation which is the byproduct of an IL-1 inflammatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC3079621  PMID: 21473774
14.  The Innate Immune Response in House Dust Mite-Induced Allergic Inflammation 
Hypersensitivity to house dust mite (HDM; Dermatophagoides sp.) allergens is one of the most common allergic responses, affecting up to 85% of asthmatics. Sensitization to indoor allergens is the strongest independent risk factor associated with asthma. Additionally, >50% of children and adolescents with asthma are sensitized to HDM. Although allergen-specific CD4+ Th2 cells orchestrate the HDM allergic response through induction of IgE directed toward mite allergens, activation of innate immunity also plays a critical role in HDM-induced allergic inflammation. This review highlights the HDM components that lead to activation of the innate immune response. Activation may due to HDM proteases. Proteases may be recognized by protease-activation receptors (PARs), Toll-like receptors (TLRs), or C-type lectin receptors (CTRs), or act as a molecular mimic for PAMP activation signaling pathways. Understanding the role of mite allergen-induced innate immunity will facilitate the development of therapeutic strategies that exploit innate immunity receptors and associated signaling pathways for the treatment of allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3579094  PMID: 23450108
House dust mites; innate immunity; toll-like receptors; C-type lectin receptors; dendritic cells
15.  Endoplasmic reticulum stress mediates house dust mite-induced airway epithelial apoptosis and fibrosis 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):141.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response participates in many chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In the current study, we sought to examine the contribution of ER stress transducers in the pathogenesis of three principal facets of allergic asthma: inflammation, airway fibrosis, and airways hyperresponsiveness.
House Dust Mite (HDM) was used as an allergen for in vitro and in vivo challenge of primary human and murine airway epithelial cells. ER stress transducers were modulated using specific small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in vivo. Inflammation, airway remodeling, and hyperresponsiveness were measured by total bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell counts, determination of collagen, and methacholine responsiveness in mice, respectively.
Challenge of human bronchiolar and nasal epithelial cells with HDM extract induced the ER stress transducer, activating transcription factor 6 α (ATF6α) as well as protein disulfide isomerase, ERp57, in association with activation of caspase-3. SiRNA-mediated knockdown of ATF6α and ERp57 during HDM administration in mice resulted in a decrease in components of HDM-induced ER stress, disulfide mediated oligomerization of Bak, and activation of caspase-3. Furthermore, siRNA-mediated knockdown of ATF6α and ERp57 led to decreased inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness and airway fibrosis.
Collectively, our work indicates that HDM induces ER stress in airway epithelial cells and that ATF6α and ERp57 play a significant role in the development of cardinal features of allergic airways disease. Inhibition of ER stress responses may provide a potential therapeutic avenue in chronic asthma and sub-epithelial fibrosis associated with loss of lung function.
PMCID: PMC3877992  PMID: 24364984
Allergen; HDM; Unfolded protein response; ER stress; Apoptosis; Asthma; Airway fibrosis
16.  Development of a Novel Severe Triple Allergen Asthma Model in Mice Which Is Resistant to Dexamethasone and Partially Resistant to TLR7 and TLR9 Agonist Treatment 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91223.
Severe asthma is characterised by persistent inflammation, hyperreactivity and remodeling of the airways. No efficient treatment is available, this is particularly the case for steroid resistant phenotypes. Our aim therefore was to develop a preclinical model showing characteristics of severe human asthma including steroid insensitivity. Mice were first sensitized with ovalbumin, extracts of cockroach or house dust mite followed by a challenge period of seven weeks. Further to this, an additional group of mice was sensitized with all three allergens and then challenged with allergen alternating weekly between allergens. All three allergens applied separately to the mice induced comparably strong Th2-type airway inflammation, airway hyperreactivity and airway remodeling, which was characterised by fibrosis and increased smooth muscle thickness. In contrast, application of all three allergens together resulted in a greater Th2 response and increased airway hyperreactivity and a stronger albeit not significant remodeling phenotype compared to using HDM or CRA. In this triple allergen model dexamethasone application, during the last 4 weeks of challenge, showed no suppressive effects on any of these parameters in this model. In contrast, both TLR7 agonist resiquimod and TLR9 agonist CpG-ODN reduced allergen-specific IgE, eosinophils, and collagen I in the lungs. The TLR9 agonist also reduced IL-4 and IL-5 whilst increasing IFN-γ and strongly IL-10 levels in the lungs, effects not seen with the TLR7 agonist. However, neither TLR agonist had any effect on airway hyperreactivity and airway smooth muscle mass. In conclusion we have developed a severe asthma model, which is steroid resistant and only partially sensitive to TLR7 and TLR9 agonist treatment. This model may be particular useful to test new potential therapeutics aiming at treating steroid resistant asthma in humans and investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for steroid insensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3949744  PMID: 24618687
17.  Endotoxin Exposure during Sensitization to Blomia tropicalis Allergens Shifts TH2 Immunity Towards a TH17-Mediated Airway Neutrophilic Inflammation: Role of TLR4 and TLR2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67115.
Experimental evidence and epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (eLPS) or other TLR agonists prevent asthma. We have previously shown in the OVA-model of asthma that eLPS administration during alum-based allergen sensitization blocked the development of lung TH2 immune responses via MyD88 pathway and IL-12/IFN-γ axis. In the present work we determined the effect of eLPS exposure during sensitization to a natural airborne allergen extract derived from the house dust mite Blomia tropicalis (Bt). Mice were subcutaneously sensitized with Bt allergens co-adsorbed onto alum with or without eLPS and challenged twice intranasally with Bt. Cellular and molecular parameters of allergic lung inflammation were evaluated 24 h after the last Bt challenge. Exposure to eLPS but not to ultrapure LPS (upLPS) preparation during sensitization to Bt allergens decreased the influx of eosinophils and increased the influx of neutrophils to the airways. Inhibition of airway eosinophilia was not observed in IFN-γdeficient mice while airway neutrophilia was not observed in IL-17RA-deficient mice as well in mice lacking MyD88, CD14, TLR4 and, surprisingly, TLR2 molecules. Notably, exposure to a synthetic TLR2 agonist (PamCSK4) also induced airway neutrophilia that was dependent on TLR2 and TLR4 molecules. In the OVA model, exposure to eLPS or PamCSK4 suppressed OVA-induced airway inflammation. Our results suggest that B. tropicalis allergens engage TLR4 that potentiates TLR2 signaling. This dual TLR activation during sensitization results in airway neutrophilic inflammation associated with increased frequency of lung TH17 cells. Our work highlight the complex interplay between bacterial products, house dust mite allergens and TLR signaling in the induction of different phenotypes of airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3689683  PMID: 23805294
18.  House dust mite allergy: environment evaluation and disease prevention 
Asia Pacific Allergy  2014;4(4):241-252.
There are two groups of dust mites, house dust mites (HDMs) and storage mites (SMs), that have been identified in the household environment. Both could induce airway inflammation through activation of innate and adaptive immunity and lead to asthma. In order to monitor environmental dust mite infestation, different methods can be used to detect their presence, such as the use of floating methods, monoclonal antibodies, and nanostructured biosensor. SM could be identified in the storage room, mainly in contaminated food such as mushrooms and corn starch. In HDM-sensitive subjects and mice that were challenged with HDM or SM after sensitization, these mites could up-regulate IgE levels, T helper 2 associated cytokine production and airway hypersensitivity. Different age groups of subjects were sensitized by different species of mites. More subjects above 70 years were sensitized by SM and more subjects below the age of 40 years were sensitized to HDM. Different allergenic components of dust mite extracts, such as Der p 1, Der p 2, could activate innate immunity through activating pattern recognition receptor (PRR) and then lead to allergic inflammation. The best modality to treat HDM allergy is immunomodulation through Treg cells and IgA production. In the recent years, many studies indicated probiotics could increase IgA secretion and the number of Treg cells. However, some studies conducted in adults have contradictory effects in reducing allergic symptoms. Therefore, probiotics confer inconclusive benefits on the allergic symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4215436  PMID: 25379484
House dust mite; Allergic rhinitis; Innate immunity; Probiotics
19.  SQ-standardized house dust mite immunotherapy as an immunomodulatory treatment in patients with asthma 
Allergy  2011;66(2):178-185.
Specific immunotherapy is the only treatment with the potential to prevent progression of the allergic disease and the potential to cure patients. The immunomodulatory ability of SQ-standardized house dust mite (HDM) subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) was investigated in patients with allergic asthma.
Fifty-four adults with HDM-allergic asthma were randomized 1 : 1 to receive SQ-standardized HDM SCIT (ALK) or placebo for 3 years. At baseline, and after 1, 2 and 3 years of treatment, the lowest possible inhaled corticosteroid dose required to maintain asthma control was determined, followed by determinations of nonspecific and HDM-allergen-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness, late asthmatic reaction (LAR), immediate and late-phase skin reactions, and immunological response.
SQ-standardized HDM SCIT provided a statistically significantly higher HDM-allergen tolerance (P < 0.05 vs placebo) in terms of a 1.6-fold increase in PD20 (HDM-allergen inhalation challenge), a 60-fold increase in skin test histamine equivalent HDM-allergen concentrations, reduced immediate- and reduced or abolished late-phase skin reactions, as well as fewer patients with LAR. PD20 (methacholine inhalation challenge) increased initially and was similar between groups. House dust mite SCIT induced an initial increase in serum HDM-allergen-specific IgE (P = 0.028 vs placebo), which then declined to baseline value. House dust mite SCIT induced an increase in components blocking IgE binding to allergen [ΔIgE-blocking factor: 0.31; 95% CI of (0.26; 0.37)] after 1 year that remained constant after 2 and 3 years (P < 0.0001 vs placebo).
SQ-standardized HDM SCIT induced a consistent immunomodulatory effect in adults with HDM-allergic asthma; the humoral immune response was changed and the HDM-allergen tolerance in lung and skin increased.
PMCID: PMC3039748  PMID: 20883456
allergic asthma; bronchial hyperresponsiveness; house dust mite; immune response; immunotherapy
20.  An Allergic Lung Microenvironment Suppresses Carbon Nanotube-Induced Inflammasome Activation via STAT6-Dependent Inhibition of Caspase-1 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0128888.
Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) represent a human health risk as mice exposed by inhalation display pulmonary fibrosis. Production of IL-1β via inflammasome activation is a mechanism of MWCNT-induced acute inflammation and has been implicated in chronic fibrogenesis. Mice sensitized to allergens have elevated T-helper 2 (Th2) cytokines, IL-4 and IL-13, and are susceptible to MWCNT-induced airway fibrosis. We postulated that Th2 cytokines would modulate MWCNT-induced inflammasome activation and IL-1β release in vitro and in vivo during allergic inflammation.
THP-1 macrophages were primed with LPS, exposed to MWCNTs and/or IL-4 or IL-13 for 24 hours, and analyzed for indicators of inflammasome activation. C57BL6 mice were sensitized to house dust mite (HDM) allergen and MWCNTs were delivered to the lungs by oropharyngeal aspiration. Mice were euthanized 1 or 21 days post-MWCNT exposure and evaluated for lung inflammasome components and allergic inflammatory responses.
Priming of THP-1 macrophages with LPS increased pro-IL-1β and subsequent exposure to MWCNTs induced IL-1β secretion. IL-4 or IL-13 decreased MWCNT-induced IL-1β secretion by THP-1 cells and reduced pro-caspase-1 but not pro-IL-1β. Treatment of THP-1 cells with STAT6 inhibitors, either Leflunomide or JAK I inhibitor, blocked suppression of caspase activity by IL-4 and IL-13. In vivo, MWCNTs alone caused neutrophilic infiltration into the lungs of mice 1 day post-exposure and increased IL-1β in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and pro-caspase-1 immuno-staining in macrophages and airway epithelium. HDM sensitization alone caused eosinophilic inflammation with increased IL-13. MWCNT exposure after HDM sensitization increased total cell numbers in BALF, but decreased numbers of neutrophils and IL-1β in BALF as well as reduced pro-caspase-1 in lung tissue. Despite reduced IL-1β mice exposed to MWCNTs after HDM developed more severe airway fibrosis by 21 days and had increased pro-fibrogenic cytokine mRNAs.
These data indicate that Th2 cytokines suppress MWCNT-induced inflammasome activation via STAT6-dependent down-regulation of pro-caspase-1 and suggest that suppression of inflammasome activation and IL-1β by an allergic lung microenvironment is a mechanism through which MWCNTs exacerbate allergen-induced airway fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC4474696  PMID: 26091108
21.  Associations of allergic sensitization and clinical phenotypes with innate immune response genes polymorphisms are modified by house dust mite allergen exposure 
Archives of Medical Science : AMS  2011;7(6):1029-1036.
Polymorphisms within innate immunity genes are associated with allergic phenotypes but results are variable. These associations were not analyzed with respect to allergen exposure. We investigated associations of TLR and CD14 polymorphisms with allergy phenotypes in the context of house dust mite (HDM) exposure.
Material and methods
Children, aged 12-16 years (n=326), were recruited from downtown and rural locations and assessed by allergist. Skin prick tests, total and HDM-specific sIgE measurements were done. HDM allergen concentrations in dust were measured. Genetic polymorphisms were identified using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP).
Allergic rhinitis, asthma and atopy were more prevalent in urban area. Although HDM allergen concentrations were higher in rural households, sIgE were present more frequently in urban children. In the whole population no association was found between HDM exposure and sensitization. In children with CD14/−159CC, CD14/−159TT and TLR9/2848GA genotypes increased exposure to HDM was associated with reduced incidence of allergic rhinitis. Significant associations of increased HDM exposure with reduced incidence of atopy were found for the whole population and subjects with CD14/−159CC, CD14/−1359GT, TLR4/896AA and TLR9/2848GA genotypes. Among children with CD14/−159CC and CD14/−1359GG significant positive correlation between HDM allergen concentrations in household and sensitization to HDM was observed. In contrast, protective effect of high HDM allergen exposure against specific sensitization was seen in subjects with TLR4/896 AG.
Development of specific sensitization and allergy may be associated with innate immune response genes polymorphisms and is modified by allergen exposure.
PMCID: PMC3264996  PMID: 22328887
allergy; CD14; toll-like receptors; house dust mite exposure; polymorphism
22.  The protective role of TLR6 in a mouse model of asthma is mediated by IL-23 and IL-17A 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(11):4420-4432.
TLRs are a family of receptors that mediate immune system pathogen recognition. In the respiratory system, TLR activation has both beneficial and deleterious effects in asthma. For example, clinical data indicate that TLR6 activation exerts protective effects in asthma. Here, we explored the mechanism or mechanisms through which TLR6 mediates this effect using mouse models of Aspergillus fumigatus–induced and house dust mite antigen–induced (HDM antigen–induced) chronic asthma. Tlr6–/– mice with fungal- or HDM antigen–induced asthma exhibited substantially increased airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and remodeling compared with WT asthmatic groups. Surprisingly, whole-lung levels of IL-23 and IL-17 were markedly lower in Tlr6–/– versus WT asthmatic mice. Tlr6–/– DCs generated less IL-23 upon activation with lipopolysaccharide, zymosan, or curdlan. Impaired IL-23 generation in Tlr6–/– mice also corresponded with lower levels of expression of the pathogen-recognition receptor dectin-1 and expansion of Th17 cells both in vivo and in vitro. Exogenous IL-23 treatment of asthmatic Tlr6–/– mice restored IL-17A production and substantially reduced airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and lung fungal burden compared with that in untreated asthmatic Tlr6–/– mice. Together, our data demonstrate that TLR6 activation is critical for IL-23 production and Th17 responses, which both regulate the allergic inflammatory response in chronic fungal-induced asthma. Thus, therapeutics targeting TLR6 activity might prove efficacious in the treatment of clinical asthma.
PMCID: PMC3204826  PMID: 22005301
23.  Apolipoprotein Mimetic Peptides: A New Approach for the Treatment of Asthma 
New treatments are needed for severe asthmatics to improve disease control and avoid severe toxicities associated with oral corticosteroids. We have used a murine model of house dust mite (HDM)-induced asthma to identify steroid-unresponsive genes that might represent targets for new therapeutic approaches for severe asthma. This strategy identified apolipoprotein E as a steroid-unresponsive gene with increased mRNA expression in the lungs of HDM-challenged mice. Furthermore, apolipoprotein E functioned as an endogenous negative regulator of airway hyperreactivity and goblet cell hyperplasia in experimental HDM-induced asthma. The ability of apolipoprotein E, which is expressed by lung macrophages, to attenuate AHR, and goblet cell hyperplasia is mediated by low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors expressed by airway epithelial cells. Consistent with this, administration of an apolipoprotein E mimetic peptide, corresponding to amino acids 130–149 of the LDL receptor-binding domain of the holo-apoE protein, significantly reduced AHR and goblet cell hyperplasia in HDM-challenged apoE−/− mice. These findings identified the apolipoprotein E – LDL receptor pathway as a new druggable target for asthma that can be activated by administration of apoE-mimetic peptides. Similarly, apolipoprotein A-I may have therapeutic potential in asthma based upon its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-fibrotic properties. Furthermore, administration of apolipoprotein A-I mimetic peptides has attenuated airway inflammation, airway remodeling, and airway hyperreactivity in murine models of experimental asthma. Thus, site-directed delivery of inhaled apolipoprotein E or apolipoprotein A-I mimetic peptides may represent novel treatment approaches that can be developed for asthma, including severe disease.
PMCID: PMC3297834  PMID: 22408624
asthma; apolipoprotein E; apolipoprotein A-I; apolipoprotein E mimetic peptide; apolipoprotein A-I mimetic peptide
24.  Early-life exposure to combustion-derived particulate matter causes pulmonary immunosuppression 
Mucosal immunology  2013;7(3):694-704.
Elevated levels of combustion-derived particulate matter (CDPM) are a risk factor for the development of lung diseases such as asthma. Studies have shown that CDPM exacerbates asthma, inducing acute lung dysfunction and inflammation; however, the impact of CDPM exposure on early immunological responses to allergens remains unclear. To determine the effects of early-life CDPM exposure on allergic asthma development in infants, we exposed infant mice to CDPM and then induced a mouse model of asthma using house dust mite (HDM) allergen. Mice exposed to CDPM+HDM failed to develop a typical asthma phenotype including airway hyperresponsiveness, Th2-inflammation, Muc5ac expression, eosinophilia, and HDM-specific Ig compared to HDM-exposed mice. Although HDM-specific IgE was attenuated, total IgE was two-fold higher in CDPM+HDM mice compared to HDM-mice. We further demonstrate that CDPM exposure during early life induced an immunosuppressive environment in the lung, concurrent with increases in tolerogenic dendritic cells and Tregs, resulting in suppression of Th2 responses. Despite having early immunosuppression, these mice develop severe allergic inflammation when challenged with allergen as adults. These findings demonstrate a mechanism whereby CDPM exposure modulates adaptive immunity, inducing specific-antigen tolerance while amplifying total IgE, and leading to a predisposition to develop asthma upon rechallenge later in life.
PMCID: PMC3999175  PMID: 24172848
particulate matter; immunosuppression; neonatal
25.  5A, an Apolipoprotein A–I Mimetic Peptide, Attenuates the Induction of House Dust Mite-induced Asthma 
New treatment approaches are needed for patients with asthma. Apolipoprotein A–I (apoA-I), the major structural protein of high density lipoproteins, mediates reverse cholesterol transport and also has atheroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Here, we hypothesized that an apolipoprotein A–I mimetic peptide might be effective at inhibiting asthmatic airway inflammation. A 5A peptide, which is a synthetic, bi-helical apoA-I mimetic, was administered to wild-type A/J mice via osmotic mini-pump prior to the induction of house dust mite (HDM)-induced asthma. HDM-challenged mice that received the 5A apoA-I mimetic peptide had significant reductions in the number of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid eosinophils, lymphocytes and neutrophils, as well as in histopathological evidence of airway inflammation. The reduction in airway inflammation was mediated by a reduction in expression of Th2- and Th17-type cytokines, as well as in chemokines that promote T cell and eosinophil chemotaxis, including CCL7, CCL17, CCL11 and CCL24. Furthermore, the 5A apoA-I mimetic peptide inhibited the alternative activation of pulmonary macrophages in the lungs of HDM-challenged mice. The 5A apoA-I mimetic peptide also abrogated the development of airway hyperreactivity and reduced several key features of airway remodeling, including goblet cell hyperplasia and the expression of collagen genes (Col1a1 and Col3a1). Our results demonstrate that the 5A apoA-I mimetic peptide attenuates the development of airway inflammation and airway hyperreactivity in an experimental murine model of house dust mite-induced asthma. These data support the conclusion that strategies utilizing apoA-I mimetic peptides, such as 5A, might be developed further as a possible new treatment approach for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3012266  PMID: 21115733

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