A subset of patients with stable asthma has prominent neutrophilic and reduced eosinophilic inflammation, which is associated with attenuated airways hyper-responsiveness (AHR). Haemophilus influenzae has been isolated from the airways of neutrophilic asthmatics; however, the nature of the association between infection and the development of neutrophilic asthma is not understood. Our aim was to investigate the effects of H. influenzae respiratory infection on the development of hallmark features of asthma in a mouse model of allergic airways disease (AAD). BALB/c mice were intraperitoneally sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) and intranasally challenged with OVA 12–15 days later to induce AAD. Mice were infected with non-typeable H. influenzae during or 10 days after sensitization, and the effects of infection on the development of key features of AAD were assessed on day 16. T-helper 17 cells were enumerated by fluorescent-activated cell sorting and depleted with anti-IL-17 neutralizing antibody. We show that infection in AAD significantly reduced eosinophilic inflammation, OVA-induced IL-5, IL-13 and IFN-γ responses and AHR; however, infection increased airway neutrophil influx in response to OVA challenge. Augmented neutrophilic inflammation correlated with increased IL-17 responses and IL-17 expressing macrophages and neutrophils (early, innate) and T lymphocytes (late, adaptive) in the lung. Significantly, depletion of IL-17 completely abrogated infection-induced neutrophilic inflammation during AAD. In conclusion, H. influenzae infection synergizes with AAD to induce Th17 immune responses that drive the development of neutrophilic and suppress eosinophilic inflammation during AAD. This results in a phenotype that is similar to neutrophilic asthma. Infection-induced neutrophilic inflammation in AAD is mediated by IL-17 responses.
Approximately 50% of asthmatics have non-eosinophilic inflammation, and 20% of these patients have severe neutrophilic inflammation and increased IL-8 levels. These so-called neutrophilic asthmatics have persistent airway colonization with bacteria, and Haemophilus influenzae is one of the bacteria most commonly isolated. However, how H. influenzae is associated with the pathogenesis of neutrophilic asthma is unknown. In this study we used mouse models to investigate the relationship between H. influenzae infection and allergic airways disease (AAD). We showed that infection promoted the development of hallmark features of neutrophilic asthma. Infection suppressed Th2 cytokines, eosinophilic inflammation, and AHR in AAD, while increasing neutrophilic inflammation and IL-17 responses. Importantly, inhibition of IL-17 during AAD reduced airway neutrophils and neutrophil chemokines, suggesting that infection drives the development of neutrophilic inflammation through an IL-17-mediated mechanism. This provides novel insights into the mechanisms that may underpin infection-induced neutrophilic asthma. These data also suggest that treatments targeting infection may lead to improved management of neutrophilic asthma.
Cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling modulates functions of inflammatory cells involved in the pathogenesis of asthma, and type 4 cAMP-specific phosphodiesterases (PDE4s) are essential components of this pathway. Induction of the PDE4 isoform PDE4B is necessary for Toll-like receptor signaling in monocytes and macrophages and is associated with T cell receptor/CD3 in T cells; however, its exact physiological function in the development of allergic asthma remains undefined.
We investigated the role of PDE4B in the development of allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and TH2-driven inflammatory responses.
Wild-type and PDE4B−/− mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin and AHR measured in response to inhaled methacholine. Airway inflammation was characterized by analyzing leukocyte infiltration and cytokine accumulation in the airways. Ovalbumin-stimulated cell proliferation and TH2 cytokine production were determined in cultured bronchial lymph node cells.
Mice deficient in PDE4B do not develop AHR. This protective effect was associated with a significant decrease in eosinophils recruitment to the lungs and decreased TH2 cytokine levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Defects in T-cell replication, TH2 cytokine production, and dendritic cell migration were evident in cells from the airway-draining lymph nodes. Conversely, accumulation of the TH1 cytokine IFN-γ was not affected in PDE4B−/− mice. Ablation of the orthologous PDE4 gene PDE4A has no impact on airway inflammation.
By relieving a cAMP-negative constraint, PDE4B plays an essential role in TH2-cell activation and dendritic cell recruitment during airway inflammation. These findings provide proof of concept that PDE4 inhibitors with PDE4B selectivity may have efficacy in asthma treatment.
Asthma; PDE4B; TH2 cytokines; airway hyperresponsiveness; airway inflammation; cAMP signaling
Allergic subjects produce relatively low amounts of IFN-γ, a pleiotropic Th-1 cytokine that downregulates Th2-associated airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness (AHR), the hallmarks of allergic asthma. Adenovirus-mediated IFN-γ gene transfer reduces AHR, Th2 cytokine levels and lung inflammation in mice, but its use would be limited by the frequency of gene delivery required; therefore, we tested chitosan/IFN-γ pDNA nanoparticles (CIN) for in situ production of IFN-γ and its in vivo effects.
CIN were administered to OVA-sensitized mice to investigate the possibility of using gene transfer to modulate ovalbumin (OVA)-induced inflammation and AHR.
Mice treated with CIN exhibit significantly lower AHR to methacholine challenge and less lung histopathology. Production of IFN-γ is increased after CIN treatment while the Th2-cytokines, IL-4 and IL-5, and OVA-specific serum IgE are reduced compared to control mice. AHR and eosinophilia are also significantly reduced by CIN therapy administered therapeutically in mice with established asthma. CIN was found to inhibit epithelial inflammation within 6 hours of delivery by inducing apoptosis of goblet cells. Experiments performed on STAT4-defective mice do not show reduction in AHR with CIN treatment, thus implicating STAT4 signaling in the mechanism of CIN action.
These results demonstrate that mucosal CIN therapy can effectively reduce established allergen-induced airway inflammation and AHR.
In this investigation we have used a mouse model containing certain phenotypic characteristics consistent with asthma and IL-4- and CD40-deficient mice to establish the role of this cytokine and allergen-specific immunoglobulins in the initiation of airways hyperreactivity and morphological changes to the airways in responses to aeroallergen challenge. Sensitization and aerosol challenge of mice with ovalbumin resulted in a severe airways inflammatory response which directly correlated with the induction of extensive airways damage and airways hyperreactivity to beta-methacholine. Inflammatory infiltrates were primarily characterized by the presence of CD4+ T cells and eosinophils. In IL-4-deficient mice, the recruitment of airways eosinophils was impaired, but not abolished in response to aeroallergen. Moreover, the characteristic airways damage and hyperreactivity normally resulting from allergen inhalation were not attenuated. Induction of these structural and functional changes to the airways occurred in the absence of ovalbumin-specific IgE and IgG1, but IgG2a and IgG3 were detected in the sera of IL-4-deficient mice. CD4+ T cells isolated from both wild-type and IL-4-deficient mice given ovalbumin produced significant levels of IL-5 after in vitro stimulation. Treatment of IL-4-deficient mice with anti-IL-5 mAb before aeroallergen challenge abolished blood and airways eosinophilia, lung damage, and airways hyperreactivity. These results indicate that IL-4 is not essential for the development of IL-5-producing CD4+ T cells or for the induction of eosinophilic inflammation and airways damage and hyperreactivity. In response to sensitization and aerosol challenge, CD40-deficient mice did not produce ovalbumin-specific IgE, IgG isotypes, or IgA, and airways inflammation and hyperreactivity were not attenuated. Our results suggest that allergic airways disease can occur via pathways which operate independently of IL-4 and allergen-specific immunoglobulins. Activation of these pathways is intimately associated with IL-5 and eosinophilic inflammation. Such pathways may play a substantive role in the etiology of asthma.
Recent clinical evidence indicates that the non-eosinophilic subtype of severe asthma is characterized by fixed airway obstruction, which may be related to emphysema. Transgenic studies have demonstrated that high levels of IFN-γ in the airways induce emphysema. Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), which is the downstream mediator of TGF-β, is important in wound healing. We investigated the role of FGF2 in IFN-γ-induced emphysema and the therapeutic effects of recombinant FGF2 in the prevention of emphysema in a severe non-eosinophilic asthma model. To evaluate the role of FGF2 in IFN-γ-induced emphysema, lung targeted IFN-γ transgenic mice were cross-bred with FGF2-deficient mice. A severe non-eosinophilic asthma model was generated by airway application of LPS-containing allergens twice a week for 4 weeks. To evaluate protective effects of FGF2, recombinant FGF2 (10 µg) was injected subcutaneously during allergen challenge in the severe asthma model. We found that non-eosinophilic inflammation and emphysema induced by transgenic overexpression of IFN-γ in the airways were aggravated by the absence of FGF2. Airway challenge with LPS-containing allergens induced more inflammation in mice sensitized with LPS-containing allergens compared to challenge with allergens alone. In addition, LPS-induced lung inflammation and emphysema depended on IFN-γ but not on IL-13. Interestingly, emphysema in the severe asthma model was significantly inhibited by treatment with recombinant FGF2 during allergen challenge, whereas lung inflammation was unaffected. Therefore, our present data suggest that FGF2 may help protect against IFN-γ-induced emphysema, and that recombinant FGF2 may help lessen the severity of emphysema.
asthma; emphysema; fibroblast growth factor 2; interferon-γ; pulmonary eosinophilia
Airway inflammation and airway remodeling are the key contributors to airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), a characteristic feature of asthma. Both processes are regulated by Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-β. Caveolin 1 (Cav1) is a membrane bound protein that binds to a variety of receptor and signaling proteins, including the TGF-β receptors. We hypothesized that caveolin-1 deficiency promotes structural alterations of the airways that develop with age will predispose to an increased response to allergen challenge.
AHR was measured in Cav1-deficient and wild-type (WT) mice 1 to 12 months of age to examine the role of Cav1 in AHR and the relative contribution of inflammation and airway remodeling. AHR was then measured in Cav1-/- and WT mice after an ovalbumin-allergen challenge performed at either 2 months of age, when remodeling in Cav1-/- and WT mice was equivalent, and at 6 months of age, when the Cav1-/- mice had established airway remodeling.
Cav1-/- mice developed increased thickness of the subepithelial layer and a correspondingly increased AHR as they aged. In addition, allergen-challenged Cav1-/- mice had an increase in AHR greater than WT mice that was largely independent of inflammation. Cav1-/- mice challenged at 6 months of age have decreased AHR compared to those challenged at 2 months with correspondingly decreased BAL IL-4 and IL-5 levels, inflammatory cell counts and percentage of eosinophils. In addition, in response to OVA challenge, the number of goblet cells and α-SMA positive cells in the airways were reduced with age in response to OVA challenge in contrast to an increased collagen deposition further enhanced in absence of Cav1.
A lack of Cav1 contributed to the thickness of the subepithelial layer in mice as they aged resulting in an increase in AHR independent of inflammation, demonstrating the important contribution of airway structural changes to AHR. In addition, age in the Cav1-/- mice is a contributing factor to airway remodeling in the response to allergen challenge.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by local and systemic Th2 responses to cutaneously introduced allergens and is a risk factor for asthma. Blockade of Th2 cytokines has been suggested as therapy for AD.
To examine the effect of the absence of IL-4 and IL-13 on the Th-17 response to epicutaneous (EC) sensitization in a mouse model of allergic skin inflammation with features of AD.
Wild-type (WT), IL-4KO, IL-13KO and IL-4/13 double KO (DKO) mice were subjected to EC sensitization with ovalbumin (OVA) or saline and airway challenged with OVA. Systemic immune responses to OVA, skin and airway inflammation, and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) were examined.
OVA sensitized DKO mice exhibited impaired Th2 driven responses with undetectable OVA specific IgE and severely diminished eosinophil infiltration at sensitized skin sites, but intact dermal infiltration with CD4+ cells. DKO mice mounted an exaggerated IL-17A, but normal IFN-γ and IL-5 systemic responses. Airway challenge of these mice with OVA caused marked upregulation of IL-17 mRNA expression in the lungs, increased neutrophilia in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), airway inflammation characterized by mononuclear cell infiltration with no detectable eosinophils, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to methacholine that were reversed by IL-17 blockade. IL-4, but not IL-13, was identified as the major Th2 cytokine that downregulates the IL-17 response in EC sensitized mice.
EC sensitization in the absence of IL-4/IL-13 induces an exaggerated Th17 response systemically, and in lungs following antigen challenge that results in airway inflammation and AHR.
Blockade of IL-4 may promote IL-17-mediated airway inflammation in AD.
IL-17; Th2 cytokines; atopic dermatitis; asthma
Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands and other allergen nonspecific immunostimulatory molecules are ubiquitous in ambient air and have profound modulatory activities in animal models of allergic asthma. However, several of these molecules have been shown to promote exaggerated Th2 biased airway hypersensitivity responses (AHRs), while others attenuate the asthmatic phenotype. Therefore, it has proven difficult to extrapolate experimental results with purified molecules towards a more general understanding of the allergen nonspecific immunomodulatory influence of living environments on the natural history of allergic asthma. These investigations determined how regular and intermittent airway exposures to an unpurified but sterile house dust extract standard (HDEst) affected the ovalbumin (OVA) specific AHR and immune status of previously Th2 sensitized mice. Low dose daily and high dose intermittent HDEst exposures modulated ongoing airway hypersensitivity responses considerably, reducing eosinophil recruitment and methacholine responsiveness, while increasing neutrophilic inflammation. However, only daily airway delivery of low dose HDEst attenuated OVA specific Th2 cytokine production and Th2 biased AHRs to allergen challenge a month later. Finally, while LPS mimicked many of the immunomodulatory characteristics of HDEst in this murine asthma model, daily airway HDEst delivery was highly effective in attenuating the AHR of OVA/alum sensitized TLR4 deficient mice. Taken together, these investigations provide direct evidence that living environments contain allergen nonspecific immunostimulatory molecules that influence the airway hypersensitivity status of allergen-sensitized mice by TLR4 dependent and independent mechanisms.
Allergy; Lung; T cells; Rodent
Early-life respiratory viral infections, notably with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), increase the risk of subsequent development of childhood asthma. The purpose of this study was to assess whether early-life infection with a species-specific model of RSV and subsequent allergen exposure predisposed to the development of features of asthma.
We employed a unique combination of animal models in which BALB/c mice were neonatally infected with pneumonia virus of mice (PVM, which replicates severe RSV disease in human infants) and following recovery, were intranasally sensitised with ovalbumin. Animals received low-level challenge with aerosolised antigen for 4 weeks to elicit changes of chronic asthma, followed by a single moderate-level challenge to induce an exacerbation of inflammation. We then assessed airway inflammation, epithelial changes characteristic of remodelling, airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and host immunological responses.
Allergic airway inflammation, including recruitment of eosinophils, was prominent only in animals that had recovered from neonatal infection with PVM and then been sensitised and chronically challenged with antigen. Furthermore, only these mice exhibited an augmented Th2-biased immune response, including elevated serum levels of anti-ovalbumin IgE and IgG1 as well as increased relative expression of Th2-associated cytokines IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13. By comparison, development of AHR and mucous cell change were associated with recovery from PVM infection, regardless of subsequent allergen challenge. Increased expression of IL-25, which could contribute to induction of a Th2 response, was demonstrable in the lung following PVM infection. Signalling via the IL-4 receptor α chain was crucial to the development of allergic inflammation, mucous cell change and AHR, because all of these were absent in receptor-deficient mice. In contrast, changes of remodelling were evident in mice that received chronic allergen challenge, regardless of neonatal PVM infection, and were not dependent on signalling via the IL-4 receptor.
In this mouse model, interaction between early-life viral infection and allergen sensitisation/challenge is essential for development of the characteristic features of childhood asthma, including allergic inflammation and a Th2-biased immune response.
Chronic asthma is often associated with neutrophilic infiltration in the airways. Neutrophils contain elastase, a potent secretagogue in the airways, nonetheless the role for neutrophil elastase as well as neutrophilic inflammation in allergen-induced airway responses is not well defined. In this study, we have investigated the impact of neutrophil elastase inhibition on the development of allergic airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in previously sensitized and challenged mice.
BALB/c mice were sensitized and challenged (primary) with ovalbumin (OVA). Six weeks later, a single OVA aerosol (secondary challenge) was delivered and airway inflammation and airway responses were monitored 6 and 48 hrs later. An inhibitor of neutrophil elastase was administered prior to secondary challenge.
Mice developed a two-phase airway inflammatory response after secondary allergen challenge, one neutrophilic at 6 hr and the other eosinophilic, at 48 hr. PAR-2 expression in the lung tissues was enhanced following secondary challenge, and that PAR-2 intracellular expression on peribronchial lymph node (PBLN) T cells was also increased following allergen challenge of sensitized mice. Inhibition of neutrophil elastase significantly attenuated AHR, goblet cell metaplasia, and inflammatory cell accumulation in the airways following secondary OVA challenge. Levels of IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13, and eotaxin in BAL fluid 6 hr after secondary allergen challenge were significantly suppressed by the treatment. At 48 hr, treatment with the neutrophil elastase inhibitor significantly reduced the levels of IL-13 and TGF-β1 in the BAL fluid. In parallel, in vitro IL-13 production was significantly inhibited in spleen cells from sensitized mice.
These data indicate that neutrophil elastase plays an important role in the development of allergic airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness, and would suggest that the neutrophil elastase inhibitor reduced AHR to inhaled methacholine indicating the potential for its use as a modulator of the immune/inflammatory response in both the neutrophil- and eosinophil-dominant phases of the response to secondary allergen challenge.
Neutrophil; Elastase; Airway; Hyperresponsiveness; Asthma
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.
Rationale: T-bet (TBX21 or T-box 21) is a critical regulator of T-helper 1 lineage commitment and IFN-γ production. Knockout mice lacking T-bet develop airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine, peribronchial eosinophilic and lymphocytic inflammation, and increased type III collagen deposition below the bronchial epithelium basement membrane, reminiscent of both acute and chronic asthma histopathology. Little is known regarding the role of genetic variation surrounding T-bet in the development of human AHR.
Objectives: To assess the relationship between T-bet polymorphisms and asthma-related phenotypes using family-based association.
Methods: Single nucleotide polymorphism discovery was performed by resequencing the T-bet genomic locus in 30 individuals (including 22 patients with asthma). Sixteen variants were genotyped in 580 nuclear families ascertained through offspring with asthma from the Childhood Asthma Management Program clinical trial. Haplotype patterns were determined from this genotype data. Family-based tests of association were performed with asthma, AHR, lung function, total serum immunoglobulin E, and blood eosinophil levels.
Main Results: We identified 24 variants. Evidence of association was observed between c.−7947 and asthma in white families using both additive (p = 0.02) or dominant models (p = 0.006). c.−7947 and three other variants were also associated with AHR (log-methacholine PC20, p = 0.02–0.04). Haplotype analysis suggested that an AHR locus is in linkage disequilibrium with variants in the 3′UTR. Evidence of association of AHR with c.−7947, but not with other 3′UTR SNPs, was replicated in an independent cohort of adult males with AHR.
Conclusions: These data suggest that T-bet variation contributes to airway responsiveness in asthma.
immunoglobulin E; single nucleotide polymorphism; T-box; TBX21
We evaluated the role of Syk, using an inhibitor, on allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and airway inflammation in a system shown to be B cell– and mast cell–independent. Sensitization of BALB/c mice with ovalbumin (OVA) and alum after three consecutive OVA challenges resulted in AHR to inhaled methacholine and airway inflammation. The Syk inhibitor R406 (30 mg/kg, administered orally, twice daily) prevented the development of AHR, increases in eosinophils and lymphocytes and IL-13 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and goblet cell metaplasia when administered after sensitization and before challenge with OVA. Levels of IL-4, IL-5, and IFN-γ in BAL fluid and allergen-specific antibody levels in serum were not affected by treatment. Because many of these responses may be influenced by dendritic cell function, we investigated the effect of R406 on bone marrow–derived dendritic cell (BMDC) function. Co-culture of BMDC with immune complexes of OVA and IgG anti-OVA together with OVA-sensitized spleen mononuclear cells resulted in increases in IL-13 production. IL-13 production was inhibited if the BMDCs were pretreated with the Syk inhibitor. Intratracheal transfer of immune complex-pulsed BMDCs (but not nonpulsed BMDCs) to naive mice before airway allergen challenge induced the development of AHR and increases in BAL eosinophils and lymphocytes. All of these responses were inhibited if the transferred BMDCs were pretreated with R406. These results demonstrate that Syk inhibition prevents allergen-induced AHR and airway inflammation after systemic sensitization and challenge, at least in part through alteration of DC function.
AHR; dendritic cells; eosinophils; mice; Syk
Rationale: Although there have been numerous studies on the development of allergen-induced inflammation, the mechanisms leading to resolution of inflammation remain poorly understood. This represents an important consideration because failure to resolve allergen driven inflammation potentially leads to irreversible airway remodeling, characteristic of chronic asthma.
Objectives: We investigated the resolution of allergic inflammation and identified the factors responsible.
Methods: BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice were sensitized to ovalbumin and challenged through the airways to induce allergic inflammation. Mice were analyzed at 24 hours and 7 days after the final challenge.
Measurements and Main Results: Airway hyperreactivity (AHR) and increased mucus production were present 7 days after the cessation of allergen challenge in BALB/c mice. Persisting AHR correlated with the continued presence of Th2 cells but not eosinophils in the lungs. The role of Th2 cells in maintaining AHR was confirmed using blocking antibodies against T1/ST2, IL-4, and IL-13 during the resolution period. Moreover, AHR in the “Th1 type” C57BL/6 mouse strain was resolved 1 week after allergen challenge, concomitant with clearance of Th2 cells from the lung. Expression of the T1/ST2 ligand, IL-33, also correlated with maintenance of AHR.
Conclusions: We have used blockade of Th2 function and strain differences to show for the first time that resolution of allergic inflammation and AHR may be dependent on the T1/ST2-IL-33 pathway and the presence of Th2 cells, suggesting they are necessary not only for the development of an allergic response but also for its maintenance.
Th2 cells; IL-13; IL-4
Interactions of the inhibitory receptor programmed death-1 (PD-1) with its ligands, programmed death ligand (PD-L)1 and PD-L2, regulate T-cell activation and tolerance. In this study, we investigated the role of PD-L1 and PD-L2 in regulating invariant natural killer T (iNKT)-cell-mediated airway hyperreactivity (AHR) in a murine model of asthma. We found that the severity of AHR and airway inflammation is significantly greater in PD-L2−/− mice compared with wild-type mice after either ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization and challenge or administration of α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer). iNKT cells from PD-L2−/− mice produced significantly more interleukin (IL)-4 than iNKT cells from control mice. Moreover, blockade of PD-L2 interactions of wild-type iNKT cells in vitro with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) resulted in significantly enhanced levels of IL-4 production. In contrast, PD-L1−/− mice showed significantly reduced AHR and enhanced production of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) by iNKT cells. iNKT-deficient Jα18−/− mice reconstituted with iNKT cells from PD-L2−/− mice developed high levels of AHR, whereas mice reconstituted with iNKT cells from PD-L1−/− mice developed lower levels of AHR compared with control. As PD-L2 is not expressed on iNKT cells but rather is expressed on lung dendritic cells (DCs), in which its expression is upregulated by allergen challenge or IL-4, these findings suggest an important role of PD-L2 on lung DCs in modulating asthma pathogenesis. These studies also indicate that PD-L1 and PD-L2 have important but opposing roles in the regulation of AHR and iNKT-cell-mediated activation.
Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) is one of the most prominent features of asthma, however, precise mechanisms for its induction have not been fully elucidated. We previously reported that systemic antigen sensitization alone directly induces AHR before development of eosinophilic airway inflammation in a mouse model of allergic airway inflammation, which suggests a critical role of antigen-specific systemic immune response itself in the induction of AHR. In the present study, we examined this possibility by cell transfer experiment, and then analyzed which cell source was essential for this process.
BALB/c mice were immunized with ovalbumin (OVA) twice. Spleen cells were obtained from the mice and were transferred in naive mice. Four days later, AHR was assessed. We carried out bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) to analyze inflammation and cytokine production in the lung. Fluorescence and immunohistochemical studies were performed to identify T cells recruiting and proliferating in the lung or in the gut of the recipient. To determine the essential phenotype, spleen cells were column purified by antibody-coated microbeads with negative or positive selection, and transferred. Then, AHR was assessed.
Transfer of spleen cells obtained from OVA-sensitized mice induced a moderate, but significant, AHR without airway antigen challenge in naive mice without airway eosinophilia. Immunization with T helper (Th) 1 elicited antigen (OVA with complete Freund's adjuvant) did not induce the AHR. Transferred cells distributed among organs, and the cells proliferated in an antigen free setting for at least three days in the lung. This transfer-induced AHR persisted for one week. Interleukin-4 and 5 in the BAL fluid increased in the transferred mice. Immunoglobulin E was not involved in this transfer-induced AHR. Transfer of in vitro polarized CD4+ Th2 cells, but not Th1 cells, induced AHR. We finally clarified that CD4+CD62Llow memory/effector T cells recruited in the lung and proliferated, thus induced AHR.
These results suggest that antigen-sensitized memory/effector Th2 cells themselves play an important role for induction of basal AHR in an antigen free, eosinophil-independent setting. Therefore, regulation of CD4+ T cell-mediated immune response itself could be a critical therapeutic target for allergic asthma.
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.
Rationale: In humans, immune responses to inhaled aeroallergens develop in the lung and draining lymph nodes. Many animal models of asthma bypass this route and instead use intraperitoneal injections of allergen using aluminum hydroxide as an adjuvant.
Objectives: We investigated whether allergic sensitization through the airway elicits immune responses qualitatively different than those arising in the peritoneum.
Methods: Mice were sensitized to allergen through the airway using low-dose LPS as an adjuvant, or through the peritoneum using aluminum hydroxide as an adjuvant. After a single allergen challenge, ELISA and flow cytometry were used to measure cytokines and leukocyte subsets. Invasive measurements of airway resistance were used to measure allergen-induced airway hyperreactivity (AHR).
Measurements and Main Results: Sensitization through the peritoneum primed strong Th2 responses and eosinophilia, but not AHR, after a single allergen challenge. By contrast, allergic sensitization through the airway primed only modest Th2 responses, but strong Th17 responses. Th17 cells homed to the lung and released IL-17 into the airway on subsequent encounter with inhaled allergen. As a result, these mice developed IL-17–dependent airway neutrophilia and AHR. This AHR was neutrophil-dependent because it was abrogated in CXCR2-deficient mice and also in wild-type mice receiving a neutrophil-depleting antibody. Individually, neither IL-17 nor ongoing Th2 responses were sufficient to confer AHR, but together they acted synergistically to promote neutrophil recruitment, eosinophil recruitment and AHR.
Conclusions: Allergic sensitization through the airway primes modest Th2 responses but strong Th17 responses that promote airway neutrophilia and acute AHR. These findings support a causal role for neutrophils in severe asthma.
asthma; lung; immunity
The effect of aging on several pathologic features of allergic-asthma (pulmonary inflammation, eosinophilia, mucus-hypersecretion), and their relationship with airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) is not well characterized.
To evaluate lung inflammation, mucus-metaplasia and AHR in relationship to age in murine models of allergic-asthma comparing young and older mice.
Young (6-week) and older (6-, 12- 18-month) BALB/c mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA). AHR and bronchoalveolar fluid (BALF) total inflammatory cell count and differential were measured. To evaluate mucus-metaplasia, quantitative PCR for the major airway mucin-associated gene, MUC-5AC, from lung tissue was measured, and lung tissue sections stained with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) for goblet-cell enumeration. Lung tissue cytokine gene expression was determined by qPCR, and systemic cytokine protein levels by ELISA from spleen-cell cultures. Antigen-specific serum IgE was determined by ELISA.
AHR developed in both aged and young OVA-sensitized/challenged mice (OVA-mice), and was more significantly increased in young OVA-mice than in aged OVA-mice. However, BALF eosinophil numbers were significantly higher, and lung histology showed greater inflammation in aged OVA-mice than in young OVA-mice. MUC-5AC expression and numbers of PAS+ staining bronchial epithelial cells were significantly increased in the aged OVA-mice. All aged OVA-mice had increased IL-5 and IFN-γ mRNA expression in the lung and IL-5 and IFN-γ protein levels from spleen cell cultures compared to young OVA-mice. OVA-IgE was elevated to a greater extent in aged OVA-mice.
Although pulmonary inflammation and mucus-metaplasia after antigen sensitization/challenge occurred to a greater degree in older mice, the increase in AHR was significantly less compared with younger OVA-mice. Antigen treatment produced a unique cytokine profile in older mice (elevated IFN-γ and IL-5) compared with young mice (elevated IL-4 and IL-13). Thus, the airway response to inflammation is lessened in aging animals, and may represent age-associated events leading to different phenotypes in response to antigen provocation.
Aging; murine; asthma; airway hyperresponsiveness; eosinophil; inflammation
Severe, glucocorticoid-resistant asthma comprises 5-7% of patients with asthma. IL-17 is a biomarker of severe asthma, and the adoptive transfer of Th17 cells in mice is sufficient to induce glucocorticoid-resistant allergic airway disease. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is an environmental toxin that correlates with asthma severity, exacerbation, and risk of adverse outcomes. Mice that are allergically sensitized to the antigen ovalbumin by exposure to NO2 exhibit a mixed Th2/Th17 adaptive immune response and eosinophil and neutrophil recruitment to the airway following antigen challenge, a phenotype reminiscent of severe clinical asthma. Because IL-1 receptor (IL-1R) signaling is critical in the generation of the Th17 response in vivo, we hypothesized that the IL-1R/Th17 axis contributes to pulmonary inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in NO2-promoted allergic airway disease and manifests in glucocorticoid-resistant cytokine production. IL-17A neutralization at the time of antigen challenge or genetic deficiency in IL-1R resulted in decreased neutrophil recruitment to the airway following antigen challenge but did not protect against the development of AHR. Instead, IL-1R-/- mice developed exacerbated AHR compared to WT mice. Lung cells from NO2-allergically inflamed mice that were treated in vitro with dexamethasone (Dex) during antigen restimulation exhibited reduced Th17 cytokine production, whereas Th17 cytokine production by lung cells from recipient mice of in vitro Th17-polarized OTII T-cells was resistant to Dex. These results demonstrate that the IL-1R/Th17 axis does not contribute to AHR development in NO2-promoted allergic airway disease, that Th17 adoptive transfer does not necessarily reflect an endogenously-generated Th17 response, and that functions of Th17 responses are contingent on the experimental conditions in which they are generated.
As passive environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure in nonsmokers can increase both asthma symptoms and the frequency of asthma exacerbations, we utilized a mouse model, in which ovalbumin (OVA) + ETS induce significantly increased levels of eosinophilic airway inflammation and remodeling compared to either stimulus alone, to determine whether a Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR-9) agonist could reduce levels of airway inflammation, airway remodeling and airway hyperreactivity (AHR).
Mice treated with or without a TLR-9 agonist were sensitized to OVA and challenged with OVA + ETS for 1 month. AHR to methacholine was assessed in intubated and ventilated mice. Lung Th2 cytokines and TGF-β1 were measured by ELISA. Lungs were processed for histology and immunohistology to quantify eosinophils, mucus, peribronchial fibrosis and smooth muscle changes using image analysis.
Administration of a TLR-9 agonist to mice coexposed to chronic ETS and chronic OVA allergen significantly reduced levels of eosinophilic airway inflammation, mucus production, peribronchial fibrosis, the thickness of the peribronchial smooth muscle layer, and AHR. The reduced airway remodeling in mice treated with the TLR-9 agonist was associated with significantly reduced numbers of peribronchial MBP+ and peribronchial TGF-β1+ cells, and with significantly reduced levels of lung Th2 cytokines [interleukin-5 and interleukin-13] and TGF-β1.
These studies demonstrate that TLR-9-based therapies inhibit airway inflammation, remodeling and AHR in mice coexposed to ETS and allergen who exhibit enhanced airway inflammation and remodeling.
Toll-like receptor-9; Airway hyperreactivity; Airway inflammation; Airway remodeling; Eosinophils
To determine whether a disintegrin and a metalloproteinase-8 (Adam8) regulates allergic airway inflammation (AAI) and airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), we compared AAI and AHR in wild type (WT) versus Adam8−/− mice in different genetic backgrounds sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) or house dust mite protein extract (HDM). OVA- and HDM-treated Adam8−/− mice had higher lung leukocyte counts, more airway mucus metaplasia, greater lung levels of some TH2 cytokines, and higher methacholine-induced increases in central airway resistance than allergen-treated WT mice. Studies of OVA-treated Adam8 bone marrow chimeric mice confirmed that leukocyte-derived Adam8 predominantly mediated Adam8’s anti-inflammatory activities in murine airways. Airway eosinophils and macrophages both expressed Adam8 in WT mice with AAI. Adam8 limited AAI and AHR in mice by reducing leukocyte survival because: 1) Adam8−/− mice with AAI had fewer apoptotic eosinophils and macrophages in their airways than WT mice with AAI; and 2) Adam8−/− macrophages and eosinophils had reduced rates of apoptosis compared with WT leukocytes when the intrinsic (but not the extrinsic) apoptosis pathway was triggered in the cells in vitro. ADAM8 was robustly expressed by airway granulocytes in lung sections from human asthma patients but, surprisingly, airway macrophages had less ADAM8 staining than airway eosinophils. Thus, ADAM8 has anti-inflammatory activities during AAI in mice by activating the intrinsic apoptosis pathway in myeloid leukocytes. Strategies that increase ADAM8 levels in myeloid leukocytes may have therapeutic efficacy in asthma.
Asthma leads to structural changes in the airways, including the modification of extracellular matrix proteins such as tenascin-C. The role of tenascin-C is unclear, but it might act as an early initiator of airway wall remodelling, as its expression is increased in the mouse and human airways during allergic inflammation. In this study, we examined whether Th1 or Th2 cells are important regulators of tenascin-C in experimental allergic asthma utilizing mice with impaired Th1 (STAT4-/-) or Th2 (STAT6-/-) immunity.
Balb/c wildtype (WT), STAT4-/- and STAT6-/- mice were sensitized with intraperitoneally injected ovalbumin (OVA) followed by OVA or PBS airway challenge. Airway hyperreactivity (AHR) was measured and samples were collected. Real time PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to study cytokines and differences in the expression of tenascin-C. Tenascin-C expression was measured in human fibroblasts after treatment with TNF-α and IFN-γ in vitro.
OVA-challenged WT mice showed allergic inflammation and AHR in the airways along with increased expression of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-4 and tenascin-C in the lungs. OVA-challenged STAT4-/- mice exhibited elevated AHR and pulmonary eosinophilia. The mRNA expression of TNF-α and IFN-γ was low, but the expression of IL-4 was significantly elevated in these mice. OVA-challenged STAT6-/- mice had neither AHR nor pulmonary eosinophilia, but had increased expression of mRNA for TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL-4. The expression of tenascin-C in the lungs of OVA-challenged STAT4-/- mice was weaker than in those of OVA-challenged WT and STAT6-/- mice suggesting that TNF-α and IFN-γ may regulate tenascin-C expression in vivo. The stimulation of human fibroblasts with TNF-α and IFN-γ induced the expression of tenascin-C confirming our in vivo findings.
Expression of tenascin-C is significantly attenuated in the airways of STAT4-/- mice, which may be due to the impaired secretion of TNF-α and IFN-γ in these mice.
Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) produced by two sphingosine kinase isoenzymes, SphK1 and SphK2, has been implicated in IgE-mediated mast cell responses. However, studies of allergic inflammation in isotype-specific SphK knockout mice have not clarified their contribution and the role that S1P plays in vivo in a mast cell and IgE-dependent mouse model of allergic asthma has not yet been examined.
We used an isoenzyme-specific SphK1 inhibitor, SK1-I, to investigate the contributions of S1P and SphK1 to mast cell dependent airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and airway inflammation in mice.
Allergic airway inflammation and AHR were examined in a mast cell-dependent mouse model of ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthma. C57BL/6 mice received intranasal delivery of SK1-I prior to sensitization and challenge with OVA or only prior to challenge.
SK1-I inhibited antigen-dependent activation of human and murine mast cells and suppressed activation of NF-κB, a master transcription factor that regulates expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. SK1-I treatment of mice sensitized to OVA in the absence of adjuvant, which develop mast cell-dependent allergic inflammation, significantly reduced OVA-induced AHR to methacholine; decreased numbers of eosinophils and levels of the cytokines IL-4, 5, 6, 13, IFN-γ, and TNF-α and the chemokines eotaxin, and CCL2 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid; and decreased pulmonary inflammation as well as activation of NF-κB in the lungs.
S1P and SphK1 play important roles in mast cell-dependent, OVA-induced allergic inflammation and AHR, in part by regulating the NF-κB pathway.
sphingosine-1-phosphate; sphingosine kinase; mast cells; NF-kB; airway hyperresponsiveness; asthma
Obesity has been suggested to be linked to asthma. However, it is not yet known whether obesity directly leads to airway hyperreactivity (AHR) or obesity-induced airway inflammation associated with asthma. We investigated obesity-related changes in adipokines, AHR, and lung inflammation in a murine model of asthma and obesity.
Materials and Methods
We developed mouse models of chronic asthma via ovalbumin (OVA)-challenge and of obesity by feeding a high-fat diet, and then performed the methacholine bronchial provocation test, and real-time PCR for leptin, leptin receptor, adiponectin, adiponectin receptor (adipor1 and 2), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor (TGF) β, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α in lung tissue. We also measured cell counts in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
Both obese and lean mice chronically exposed to OVA developed eosinophilic lung inflammation and AHR to methacholine. However, obese mice without OVA challenge did not develop AHR or eosinophilic inflammation in lung tissue. In obese mice, lung mRNA expressions of leptin, leptin receptor, VEGF, TGF, and TNF were enhanced, and adipor1 and 2 expressions were decreased compared to mice in the control group. On the other hand, there were no differences between obese mice with or without OVA challenge.
Diet-induced mild obesity may not augment AHR or eosinophilic lung inflammation in asthma.
Adipokine; asthma; high fat; vascular endothelial growth factor; transforming growth factor beta; tumor necrosis factor alpha; obesity; airway hyperresponsiveness