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1.  Role of Breast Regression Protein–39 in the Pathogenesis of Cigarette Smoke–Induced Inflammation and Emphysema 
The exaggerated expression of chitinase-like protein YKL-40, the human homologue of breast regression protein–39 (BRP-39), was reported in a number of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the in vivo roles of YKL-40 in normal physiology or in the pathogenesis of specific diseases such as COPD remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that BRP-39/YKL-40 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)–induced emphysema. To test this hypothesis, 10-week-old wild-type and BRP-39 null mutant mice (BRP-39−/−) were exposed to room air (RA) and CS for up to 10 months. The expression of BRP-39 was significantly induced in macrophages, airway epithelial cells, and alveolar Type II cells in the lungs of CS-exposed mice compared with RA-exposed mice, at least in part via an IL-18 signaling–dependent pathway. The null mutation of BRP-39 significantly reduced CS-induced bronchoalveolar lavage and tissue inflammation. However, CS-induced epithelial cell apoptosis and alveolar destruction were further enhanced in the absence of BRP-39. Consistent with these findings in mice, the tissue expression of YKL-40 was significantly increased in the lungs of current smokers compared with the lungs of ex-smokers or nonsmokers. In addition, serum concentrations of YKL-40 were significantly higher in smokers with COPD than in nonsmokers or smokers without COPD. These studies demonstrate a novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in CS-induced inflammation and emphysematous destruction. These studies also underscore that maintaining physiologic concentrations of YKL-40 in the lung is therapeutically important in preventing excessive inflammatory responses or emphysematous alveolar destruction.
PMCID: PMC3135840  PMID: 20656949
YKL-40/BRP-39; COPD; emphysema; cigarette smoke
2.  The Chitinase-like Proteins Breast Regression Protein-39 and YKL-40 Regulate Hyperoxia-induced Acute Lung Injury 
Rationale: Prolonged exposure to 100% O2 causes hyperoxic acute lung injury (HALI), characterized by alveolar epithelial cell injury and death. We previously demonstrated that the murine chitinase-like protein, breast regression protein (BRP)–39 and its human homolog, YKL-40, inhibit cellular apoptosis. However, the regulation and roles of these molecules in hyperoxia have not been addressed.
Objectives: We hypothesized that BRP-39 and YKL-40 (also called chitinase-3–like 1) play important roles in the pathogenesis of HALI.
Methods: We characterized the regulation of BRP-39 during HALI and the responses induced by hyperoxia in wild-type mice, BRP-39–null (−/−) mice, and BRP-39−/− mice in which YKL-40 was overexpressed in respiratory epithelium. We also compared the levels of tracheal aspirate YKL-40 in premature newborns with respiratory failure.
Measurements and Main Results: These studies demonstrate that hyperoxia inhibits BRP-39 in vivo in the murine lung and in vitro in epithelial cells. They also demonstrate that BRP-39−/− mice have exaggerated permeability, protein leak, oxidation, inflammatory, chemokine, and epithelial apoptosis responses, and experience premature death in 100% O2. Lastly, they demonstrate that YKL-40 ameliorates HALI, prolongs survival in 100% O2, and rescues the exaggerated injury response in BRP-39−/− animals. In accord with these findings, the levels of tracheal aspirate YKL-40 were lower in premature infants treated with hyperoxia for respiratory failure who subsequently experienced bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death compared with those that did not experience these complications.
Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that hyperoxia inhibits BRP-39/YKL-40, and that BRP-39 and YKL-40 are critical regulators of oxidant injury, inflammation, and epithelial apoptosis in the murine and human lung.
PMCID: PMC2970863  PMID: 20558631
BRP-39; YKL-40; hyperoxygen; BPD; HALI
3.  Role of breast regression protein-39/YKL-40 in asthma and allergic responses 
BRP-39 and its human homolog YKL-40 have been regarded as a prototype of chitinase-like proteins (CLP) in mammals. Exaggerated levels of YKL-40 protein and/or mRNA have been noted in a number of diseases characterized by inflammation, tissue remodeling, and aberrant cell growth. Asthma is an inflammatory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness and airway remodeling. Recently, the novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in the pathogenesis of asthma has been demonstrated both in human studies and allergic animal models. The levels of YKL-40 are increased in the circulation and lungs from asthmatics where they correlate with disease severity, and CHI3L1 polymorphisms correlate with serum YKL-40 levels, asthma and abnormal lung function. Animal studies using BRP-39 null mutant mice demonstrated that BRP-39 was required for optimal allergen sensitization and Th2 inflammation. These studies suggest the potential use of BRP-39 as a biomarker as well as a therapeutic target for asthma and other allergic diseases. Here, we present an overview of chitin/chitinase biology and summarize recent findings on the role of BRP-39 in the pathogenesis of asthma and allergic responses.
PMCID: PMC2831605  PMID: 20224674
BRP-39; human CHI3L1 protein; asthma; hypersensitivity
4.  Breast regression protein-39 (BRP-39) promotes dendritic cell maturation in vitro and enhances Th2 inflammation in murine model of asthma 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2012;33(12):1525-1532.
To determine the roles of breast regression protein-39 (BRP-39) in regulating dendritic cell maturation and in pathology of acute asthma.
Mouse bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) were prepared, and infected with adenovirus over-expressing BRP-39. Ovalbumin (OVA)-induced murine model of acute asthma was made in female BALB/c mice by sensitizing and challenging with chicken OVA and Imject Alum. The transfected BMDCs were adoptively transferred into OVA-treated mice via intravenous injection. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), inflammation and pulmonary histopathology were characterized.
The expression of BRP-39 mRNA and protein was significantly increased in lung tissues of OVA-treated mice. The BMDCs infected with adenovirus BRP-39 exhibited greater maturation and higher activity in vitro. Adoptive transfer of the cells into OVA-treated mice significantly augmented OVA-induced AHR and eosinophilic inflammation. Meanwhile, BRP-39 further enhanced the production of OVA-induced Th2 cytokines IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13, but significantly attenuated OVA-induced IFN-γ production in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
In OVA-induced murine model of acute asthma, BRP-39 is over-expressed in lung tissue and augments Th2 inflammatory response and AHR. BRP-39 promotes dendritic cell maturation in vitro. Therefore, BRP-39 may be a potential therapeutic target of asthma.
PMCID: PMC4001840  PMID: 23178461
asthma; ovalbumin; bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs); breast regression protein-39 (BRP-39); YKL-40; Th2 inflammation; airway hyperresponsiveness; bronchoalveolar lavage fluid
5.  Role of breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39)/chitinase 3-like-1 in Th2 and IL-13–induced tissue responses and apoptosis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2009;206(5):1149-1166.
Mouse breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39; Chi3l1) and its human homologue YKL-40 are chitinase-like proteins that lack chitinase activity. Although YKL-40 is expressed in exaggerated quantities and correlates with disease activity in asthma and many other disorders, the biological properties of BRP-39/YKL-40 have only been rudimentarily defined. We describe the generation and characterization of BRP-39−/− mice, YKL-40 transgenic mice, and mice that lack BRP-39 and produce YKL-40 only in their pulmonary epithelium. Studies of these mice demonstrated that BRP-39−/− animals have markedly diminished antigen-induced Th2 responses and that epithelial YKL-40 rescues the Th2 responses in these animals. The ability of interleukin13 to induce tissue inflammation and fibrosis was also markedly diminished in the absence of BRP-39. Mechanistic investigations demonstrated that BRP-39 and YKL-40 play an essential role in antigen sensitization and immunoglobulin E induction, stimulate dendritic cell accumulation and activation, and induce alternative macrophage activation. These proteins also inhibit inflammatory cell apoptosis/cell death while inhibiting Fas expression, activating protein kinase B/AKT, and inducing Faim 3. These studies establish novel regulatory roles for BRP-39/YKL-40 in the initiation and effector phases of Th2 inflammation and remodeling and suggest that these proteins are therapeutic targets in Th2- and macrophage-mediated disorders.
PMCID: PMC2715037  PMID: 19414556
6.  Dietary galacto-oligosaccharides prevent airway eosinophilia and hyperresponsiveness in a murine house dust mite-induced asthma model 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):17.
Allergic asthma is strongly associated with the exposure to house dust mite (HDM) and is characterized by eosinophilic pulmonary inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). Recently, there is an increased interest in using dietary oligosaccharides, also known as prebiotics, as a novel strategy to prevent the development of, or reduce, symptoms of allergy.
We investigated the preventive capacity of dietary galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) compared to an intra-airway therapeutic treatment with budesonide on the development of HDM-induced allergic asthma in mice.
BALB/c mice were intranasally sensitized with 1 μg HDM on day 0 followed by daily intranasal challenge with PBS or 10 μg HDM on days 7 to 11. Two weeks prior to the first sensitization and throughout the experiment mice were fed a control diet or a diet containing 1% GOS. Reference mice were oropharyngeally instilled with budesonide (500 μg/kg) on days 7, 9, 11, and 13, while being fed the control diet. On day 14, AHR was measured by nebulizing increasing doses of methacholine into the airways. At the end of the experiment, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lungs were collected.
Sensitization and challenge with HDM resulted in AHR. In contrast to budesonide, dietary intervention with 1% GOS prevented the development of AHR. HDM sensitization and challenge resulted in a significant increase in BALF leukocytes numbers, which was suppressed by budesonide treatment and dietary intervention with 1% GOS. Moreover, HDM sensitization and challenge resulted in significantly enhanced concentrations of IL-6, CCL17, IL-33, CCL5 and IL-13 in lung tissue. Both dietary intervention with 1% GOS or budesonide treatment significantly decreased the HDM-induced increased concentrations of CCL5 and IL-13 in lung tissue, while budesonide also reduced the HDM-enhanced concentrations of IL-6 and CCL17 in lung tissue.
Not only did dietary intervention with 1% GOS during sensitization and challenge prevent the induction of airway eosinophilia and Th2-related cytokine and chemokine concentrations in the lung equally effective as budesonide treatment, it also prevented AHR development in HDM-allergic mice. GOS might be useful for the prevention and/or treatment of symptoms in asthmatic disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-015-0171-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4327967
Asthma; House dust mite; Galacto-oligosaccharide; Budesonide
7.  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
8.  The Chitinase-Like Protein YKL-40 Modulates Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24399.
The chitinase-like protein YKL-40 was found to be increased in patients with severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two disease conditions featuring neutrophilic infiltrates. Based on these studies and a previous report indicating that neutrophils secrete YKL-40, we hypothesized that YKL-40 plays a key role in cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease, a prototypic neutrophilic disease. The aim of this study was (i) to analyze YKL-40 levels in human and murine CF lung disease and (ii) to investigate whether YKL-40 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) modulate CF lung disease severity. YKL-40 protein levels were quantified in serum and sputum supernatants from CF patients and control individuals. Levels of the murine homologue BRP-39 were analyzed in airway fluids from CF-like βENaC-Tg mice. YKL-40SNPs were analyzed in CF patients. YKL-40 levels were increased in sputum supernatants and in serum from CF patients compared to healthy control individuals. Within CF patients, YKL-40 levels were higher in sputum than in serum. BRP-39 levels were increased in airways fluids from βENaC-Tg mice compared to wild-type littermates. In both CF patients and βENaC-Tg mice, YKL-40/BRP-39 airway levels correlated with the severity of pulmonary obstruction. Two YKL-40 SNPs (rs871799 and rs880633) were found to modulate age-adjusted lung function in CF patients. YKL-40/BRP-39 levelsare increased in human and murine CF airway fluids, correlate with pulmonary function and modulate CF lung disease severity genetically. These findings suggest YKL-40 as a potential biomarker in CF lung disease.
PMCID: PMC3176766  PMID: 21949714
9.  Pathophysiological Features of Asthma Develop in Parallel in House Dust Mite–Exposed Neonatal Mice 
Asthma frequently commences in early life during airway and immune development and exposure to new environmental challenges. Endobronchial biopsies from children with asthma are abnormal, and lung function is maximally reduced by 6 years of age. As longitudinal biopsy studies are unethical in children, the relationship between development of pathology and reduced lung function is unknown. We aimed to establish a novel neonatal mouse model of allergic airways disease to investigate the developmental sequence of the pathophysiologic features of asthma. Neonatal Balb/c mice were challenged three times weekly from Day 3 of life using intranasal house dust mite (HDM) or saline for up to 12 weeks. Weekly assessments of airway inflammation and remodeling were made. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine was assessed from Week 2 onward. Total and eosinophilic inflammation was significantly increased in the lungs of HDM-exposed neonates from Week 2 onwards, and a peak was seen at 3 weeks. Goblet cells and peribronchiolar reticulin deposition were significantly increased in HDM-exposed neonates from Week 3, and peribronchiolar collagen was significantly greater from Week 4. HDM-exposed neonates had increased AHR from Week 2 onward. Although inflammation and AHR had subsided after 4 weeks without allergen challenge, the increased reticulin and collagen deposition persisted in HDM-exposed mice. Neonatal mice exposed to intranasal HDM developed eosinophilic inflammation, airway remodeling, and AHR as reported in pediatric asthma. Importantly, all abnormalities developed in parallel, not sequentially, between 2 and 3 weeks of age.
PMCID: PMC3380517  PMID: 19151316
pediatric; remodeling; asthma pathophysiology; mouse model; allergic airways disease
10.  Exacerbation of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis in the Absence of Breast Regression Protein-39/Chitinase 3-like-1 
We previously reported that YKL-40, the human analog of mouse breast regression protein-39 (BRP-39; chitinase 3-like 1), is elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with a variety of neuroinflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury. YKL-40 expression in the CNS was predominantly associated with reactive astrocytes in the vicinity of inflammatory lesions. Because previous studies have shown that reactive astrocytes play a critical role in limiting immune infiltration in the mouse model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), we explored the role of BRP-39 in regulating neuroinflammation in EAE. Using BRP-39-deficient mice (BRP-39−/−), we demonstrate the importance of BRP-39 in modulating the severity of clinical EAE and CNS neuroinflammation. At disease onset, absence of BRP-39 had little effect on clinical disease or lymphocytic infiltrate, but by 14 days post-immunization (dpi), differences in clinical scores were evident. By 28 dpi, BRP-39−/− mice showed more severe and persistent clinical disease than BRP-39+/+ controls. Histopathological evaluation showed that BRP-39−/− mice had more marked lymphocytic and macrophage infiltrates and gliosis vs. BRP-39+/+ mice. These findings support the role of BRP-39 expression in limiting immune cell infiltration into the CNS and offer a new target to modulate neuroinflammation.
PMCID: PMC3481009  PMID: 23041842
BRP-39; Chitinase-like proteins; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Multiple sclerosis; Neuroimmunology; YKL-40
11.  Epigenetic Alterations by DNA Methylation in House Dust Mite–Induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness 
Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic lung diseases, affecting 235 million individuals around the world, with its related morbidity and mortality increasing steadily over the last 20 years. Exposure to the environmental allergen, house dust mite (HDM), results in airway inflammation with a variable degree of airway obstruction. Although there has been much experimental work in the past using HDM challenge models to understand mechanistic details in allergic inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), there has been no study on reprogramming of lung or airways mediated through epigenetic mechanisms in response to an acute HDM exposure. Male mice, 6 weeks of age, were administrated HDM extracts or saline at Days 1, 14, and 21. Exposure of mice to HDM extracts caused significant airway inflammation and increased AHR. These HDM-challenged mice also exhibited a change in global DNA methylation as compared with saline-exposed (control) mice. Next, by employing methylation-sensitive restriction fingerprinting, we identified a set of genes, showing aberrant methylation status, associated with the HDM-induced AHR. These candidate genes are known to be involved in cAMP signaling (pde4 d), Akt-signaling (akt1 s1), ion transport (tm6 sf1, pom121l2, and slc8a3), and fatty acid metabolism (acsl3). Slc8a3 and acsl3 were down-regulated, whereas pde4 d, akt1 s1, tm6 sf1, and pom121l2 were up-regulated in the mice exposed to HDM. Hence, our results suggest that HDM exposure induces a series of aberrant methylated genes that are potentially important for the development of allergic AHR.
PMCID: PMC3824034  PMID: 23526225
airway hyperresponsiveness; DNA methylation; epigenetics; house dust mite
12.  Chronic Allergic Inflammation Causes Vascular Remodeling and Pulmonary Hypertension in Bmpr2 Hypomorph and Wild-Type Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32468.
Loss-of-function mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2) gene have been identified in patients with heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH); however, disease penetrance is low, suggesting additional factors play a role. Inflammation is associated with PAH and vascular remodeling, but whether allergic inflammation triggers vascular remodeling in individuals with BMPR2 mutations is unknown. Our goal was to determine if chronic allergic inflammation would induce more severe vascular remodeling and PAH in mice with reduced BMPR-II signaling. Groups of Bmpr2 hypomorph and wild-type (WT) Balb/c/Byj mice were exposed to house dust mite (HDM) allergen, intranasally for 7 or 20 weeks to generate a model of chronic inflammation. HDM exposure induced similar inflammatory cell counts in all groups compared to controls. Muscularization of pulmonary arterioles and arterial wall thickness were increased after 7 weeks HDM, more severe at 20 weeks, but similar in both groups. Right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) was measured by direct cardiac catheterization to assess PAH. RVSP was similarly increased in both HDM exposed groups after 20 weeks compared to controls, but not after 7 weeks. Airway hyperreactivity (AHR) to methacholine was also assessed and interestingly, at 20 weeks, was more severe in HDM exposed Bmpr2 hypomorph mice versus WT. We conclude that chronic allergic inflammation caused PAH and while the severity was mild and similar between WT and Bmpr2 hypomorph mice, AHR was enhanced with reduced BMPR-II signaling. These data suggest that vascular remodeling and PAH resulting from chronic allergic inflammation occurs independently of BMPR-II pathway alterations.
PMCID: PMC3302893  PMID: 22427841
13.  Paradoxical Effects of Rapamycin on Experimental House Dust Mite-Induced Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e33984.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) modulates immune responses and cellular proliferation. The objective of this study was to assess whether inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin modifies disease severity in two experimental murine models of house dust mite (HDM)-induced asthma. In an induction model, rapamycin was administered to BALB/c mice coincident with nasal HDM challenges for 3 weeks. In a treatment model, nasal HDM challenges were performed for 6 weeks and rapamycin treatment was administered during weeks 4 through 6. In the induction model, rapamycin significantly attenuated airway inflammation, airway hyperreactivity (AHR) and goblet cell hyperplasia. In contrast, treatment of established HDM-induced asthma with rapamycin exacerbated AHR and airway inflammation, whereas goblet cell hyperplasia was not modified. Phosphorylation of the S6 ribosomal protein, which is downstream of mTORC1, was increased after 3 weeks, but not 6 weeks of HDM-challenge. Rapamycin reduced S6 phosphorylation in HDM-challenged mice in both the induction and treatment models. Thus, the paradoxical effects of rapamycin on asthma severity paralleled the activation of mTOR signaling. Lastly, mediastinal lymph node re-stimulation experiments showed that treatment of rapamycin-naive T cells with ex vivo rapamycin decreased antigen-specific Th2 cytokine production, whereas prior exposure to in vivo rapamycin rendered T cells refractory to the suppressive effects of ex vivo rapamycin. We conclude that rapamycin had paradoxical effects on the pathogenesis of experimental HDM-induced asthma. Thus, consistent with the context-dependent effects of rapamycin on inflammation, the timing of mTOR inhibition may be an important determinant of efficacy and toxicity in HDM-induced asthma.
PMCID: PMC3368343  PMID: 22685525
14.  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
15.  Overexpression of Dimethylarginine Dimethylaminohydrolase 1 Attenuates Airway Inflammation in a Mouse Model of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85148.
Levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, are increased in lung, sputum, exhaled breath condensate and plasma samples from asthma patients. ADMA is metabolized primarily by dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase 1 (DDAH1) and DDAH2. We determined the effect of DDAH1 overexpression on development of allergic inflammation in a mouse model of asthma. The expression of DDAH1 and DDAH2 in mouse lungs was determined by RT-quantitative PCR (qPCR). ADMA levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and serum samples were determined by mass spectrometry. Wild type and DDAH1-transgenic mice were intratracheally challenged with PBS or house dust mite (HDM). Airway inflammation was assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) total and differential cell counts. The levels of IgE and IgG1 in BALF and serum samples were determined by ELISA. Gene expression in lungs was determined by RNA-Seq and RT-qPCR. Our data showed that the expression of DDAH1 and DDAH2 was decreased in the lungs of mice following HDM exposure, which correlated with increased ADMA levels in BALF and serum. Transgenic overexpression of DDAH1 resulted in decreased BAL total cell and eosinophil numbers following HDM exposure. Total IgE levels in BALF and serum were decreased in HDM-exposed DDAH1-transgenic mice compared to HDM-exposed wild type mice. RNA-Seq results showed downregulation of genes in the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) signaling pathway in PBS-treated DDAH1-transgenic mice versus PBS-treated wild type mice and downregulation of genes in IL-13/FOXA2 signaling pathway in HDM-treated DDAH1-transgenic mice versus HDM-treated wild type mice. Our findings suggest that decreased expression of DDAH1 and DDAH2 in the lungs may contribute to allergic asthma and overexpression of DDAH1 attenuates allergen-induced airway inflammation through modulation of Th2 responses.
PMCID: PMC3894860  PMID: 24465497
16.  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
17.  Allergic airway inflammation induces the migration of dendritic cells into airway sensory ganglia 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):73.
A neuroimmune crosstalk between dendritic cells (DCs) and airway nerves in the lung has recently been reported. However, the presence of DCs in airway sensory ganglia under normal and allergic conditions has not been explored so far. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the localisation, distribution and proliferation of DCs in airway sensory ganglia under allergic airway inflammation.
Using the house dust mite (HDM) model for allergic airway inflammation BALB/c mice were exposed to HDM extract intranasally (25 μg/50 μl) for 5 consecutive days a week over 7 weeks. With the help of the immunohistochemistry, vagal jugular-nodose ganglia complex (JNC) sections were analysed regarding their expression of DC-markers (MHC II, CD11c, CD103), the neuronal marker PGP 9.5 and the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and glutamine synthetase (GS) as a marker for satellite glia cells (SGCs). To address the original source of DCs in sensory ganglia, a proliferation experiment was also carried in this study.
Immune cells with characteristic DC-phenotype were found to be closely located to SGCs and vagal sensory neurons under physiological conditions. The percentage of DCs in relation to neurons was significantly increased by allergic airway inflammation in comparison to the controls (HDM 51.38 ± 2.38% vs. control 28.16 ± 2.86%, p < 0.001). The present study also demonstrated that DCs were shown to proliferate in jugular-nodose ganglia, however, the proliferation rate of DCs is not significantly changed in the two treated animal groups (proliferating DCs/ total DCs: HDM 0.89 ± 0.38%, vs. control 1.19 ± 0.54%, p = 0.68). Also, increased number of CGRP-positive neurons was found in JNC after allergic sensitisation and challenge (HDM 31.16 ± 5.41% vs. control 7.16 ± 1.53%, p < 0.001).
The present findings suggest that DCs may migrate from outside into the ganglia to interact with sensory neurons enhancing or protecting the allergic airway inflammation. The increase of DCs as well as CGRP-positive neurons in airway ganglia by allergic airway inflammation indicate that intraganglionic DCs and neurons expressing CGRP may contribute to the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma. To understand this neuroimmune interaction in allergic airway inflammation further functional experiments should be carried out in future studies.
PMCID: PMC4088366  PMID: 24980659
House dust mite mouse model; Dendritic cells; Allergic airway inflammation; Sensory airway nerves; Neuroimmune interaction; CGRP
18.  β2 adrenergic agonist attenuates house dust mite-induced allergic airway inflammation through dendritic cells 
BMC Immunology  2014;15(1):39.
Long-acting β2 adrenergic agonists (LABAs) are commonly used combined with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) to treat asthmatic patients. Previous reports suggest that LABAs have an anti-inflammatory effect in bronchial asthma, and this should be further investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate whether LABAs inhibit allergic airway inflammation and how this occurs.
We assessed the effect of the LABA formoterol (FORM) on inflammatory cell responses in airway, lung and regional lymph nodes, using an HDM-induced murine allergic asthma model in vivo. The effect of FORM on cytokine production from bone marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) stimulated with HDM was evaluated in vitro. Adoptive transfer of BMDCs pulsed with HDM in the presence or absence of FORM to naïve mice was performed and the inflammatory response to subsequent HDM challenge was analyzed. FORM treatment suppressed HDM-induced changes and caused an increase in the number of eosinophils and neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage. The concentration of IL-4 and IL-17 in lung tissue homogenate was elevated and led to an accumulation of IL-4, IL-13, IL-5 and IL-17 producing cells in regional lymph nodes. FORM inhibited the production of IL-6 and IL-23 from BMDCs stimulated with HDM in vitro, and enhanced IL-10 production. The BMDCs adoptive transfer experiment indicated that dendritic cells mediate the effect of FORM, since FORM treatment of BMDCs in vitro attenuated airway inflammation.
These results suggested that FORM modulates dendritic cell function and attenuates Th2 and Th17 responses induced by HDM. Thus, we propose that the clinical significance of LABAs should be re-investigated taking into account these immune-modulating effects.
PMCID: PMC4228181  PMID: 25359462
Bronchial asthma; β2 adrenergic agonist; House dust mite; Dendritic cells
19.  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
20.  Characterization of Macrophage Phenotypes in Three Murine Models of House-Dust-Mite-Induced Asthma 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:632049.
In asthma, an important role for innate immunity is increasingly being recognized. Key innate immune cells in the lungs are macrophages. Depending on the signals they receive, macrophages can at least have an M1, M2, or M2-like phenotype. It is unknown how these macrophage phenotypes behave with regard to (the severity of) asthma. We have quantified the phenotypes in three models of house dust mite (HDM-)induced asthma (14, 21, and 24 days). M1, M2, and M2-like phenotypes were identified by interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5), YM1, and IL-10, respectively. We found higher percentages of eosinophils in HDM-exposed mice compared to control but no differences between HDM models. T cell numbers were higher after HDM exposure and were the highest in the 24-day HDM protocol. Higher numbers of M2 macrophages after HDM correlated with higher eosinophil numbers. In mice with less severe asthma, M1 macrophage numbers were higher and correlated negatively with M2 macrophages numbers. Lower numbers of M2-like macrophages were found after HDM exposure and these correlated negatively with M2 macrophages. The balance between macrophage phenotypes changes as the severity of allergic airway inflammation increases. Influencing this imbalanced relationship could be a novel approach to treat asthma.
PMCID: PMC3600196  PMID: 23533309
21.  Hyperoxia Exacerbates Postnatal Inflammation-Induced Lung Injury in Neonatal BRP-39 Null Mutant Mice Promoting the M1 Macrophage Phenotype 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:457189.
Rationale. Hyperoxia exposure to developing lungs—critical in the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia—may augment lung inflammation by inhibiting anti-inflammatory mediators in alveolar macrophages. Objective. We sought to determine the O2-induced effects on the polarization of macrophages and the role of anti-inflammatory BRP-39 in macrophage phenotype and neonatal lung injury. Methods. We used RAW264.7, peritoneal, and bone marrow derived macrophages for polarization (M1/M2) studies. For in vivo studies, wild-type (WT) and BRP-39−/− mice received continuous exposure to 21% O2 (control mice) or 100% O2 from postnatal (PN) 1 to PN7 days, along with intranasal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administered on alternate days (PN2, -4, and -6). Lung histology, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell counts, BAL protein, and cytokines measurements were performed. Measurements and Main Results. Hyperoxia differentially contributed to macrophage polarization by enhancing LPS induced M1 and inhibiting interleukin-4 induced M2 phenotype. BRP-39 absence led to further enhancement of the hyperoxia and LPS induced M1 phenotype. In addition, BRP-39−/− mice were significantly more sensitive to LPS plus hyperoxia induced lung injury and mortality compared to WT mice. Conclusions. These findings collectively indicate that BRP-39 is involved in repressing the M1 proinflammatory phenotype in hyperoxia, thereby deactivating inflammatory responses in macrophages and preventing neonatal lung injury.
PMCID: PMC3855965  PMID: 24347826
22.  Rapamycin Attenuates Airway Hyperreactivity, Goblet Cells, and IgE in Experimental Allergic Asthma1 
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway integrates environmental cues, promotes cell growth / differentiation and regulates immune responses. While inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin has potent immunosuppressive activity, mixed effects have been reported in ovalbumin-induced models of allergic asthma. We investigated the impact of two different rapamycin treatment protocols on the major characteristics of allergic asthma induced by the clinically relevant allergen, house dust mite (HDM). In protocol 1, Balb/c mice were exposed to 10 intranasal HDM doses over a period of 24 days and treated with rapamycin simultaneously during the sensitization/exposure period. In protocol 2, rapamycin was administered after the mice had been sensitized to HDM (I.P. injection) and prior to initiation of two intranasal HDM challenges over 4 days. Airway hyperreactivity (AHR), IgE, inflammatory cells, cytokines, leukotrienes, goblet cells, and activated T cells were assessed. In protocol 1, rapamycin blocked HDM-induced increases in AHR, inflammatory cell counts, IgE, and attenuated goblet cell metaplasia. In protocol 2, rapamycin blocked increases in AHR, IgE, T cell activation, and reduced goblet cell metaplasia, but had no effect on inflammatory cell counts. Increases in IL-13 and leukotrienes were also blocked by rapamycin, although increases in IL-4 were unaffected. These data demonstrate that rapamycin can inhibit cardinal features of allergic asthma including increases in AHR, IgE, and goblet cells most likely due to its ability to reduce the production of two key mediators of asthma, IL-13 and leukotrienes. These findings highlight the importance of the mTOR pathway in allergic airway disease.
PMCID: PMC3221931  PMID: 22021618
23.  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
24.  Assessment of Peripheral Airway Function following Chronic Allergen Challenge in a Sheep Model of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28740.
There is increasing evidence that the small airways contribute significantly to the pathophysiology of asthma. However, due to the difficulty in accessing distal lung regions in clinical settings, functional changes in the peripheral airways are often overlooked in studies of asthmatic patients. The aim of the current study was to characterize progressive changes in small airway function in sheep repeatedly challenged with house dust mite (HDM) allergen.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Four spatially separate lung segments were utilized for HDM challenges. The right apical, right medial, right caudal and left caudal lung segments received 0, 8, 16 and 24 weekly challenges with HDM respectively. A wedged-bronchoscope technique was used to assess changes in peripheral resistance (Rp) at rest, and in response to specific and non-specific stimuli throughout the trial. Allergen induced inflammatory cell infiltration into bronchoalveolar lavage and increases in Rp in response to HDM and methacholine were localized to treated lung segments, with no changes observed in adjacent lung segments. The acute response to HDM was variable between sheep, and was significantly correlated to airway responsiveness to methacholine (rs = 0.095, P<0.01). There was no correlation between resting Rp and the number of weeks of HDM exposure. Nor was there a correlation between the magnitude of early-phase airway response and the number of HDM-challenges.
Our findings indicate that airway responses to allergic and non-allergic stimuli are localized to specific treated areas of the lung. Furthermore, while there was a decline in peripheral airway function with HDM exposure, this decrease was not correlated with the length of allergen challenge.
PMCID: PMC3236205  PMID: 22174883
25.  Differential Effects of Rapamycin and Dexamethasone in Mouse Models of Established Allergic Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54426.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays an important role in cell growth/differentiation, integrating environmental cues, and regulating immune responses. Our lab previously demonstrated that inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin prevented house dust mite (HDM)-induced allergic asthma in mice. Here, we utilized two treatment protocols to investigate whether rapamycin, compared to the steroid, dexamethasone, could inhibit allergic responses during the later stages of the disease process, namely allergen re-exposure and/or during progression of chronic allergic disease. In protocol 1, BALB/c mice were sensitized to HDM (three i.p. injections) and administered two intranasal HDM exposures. After 6 weeks of rest/recovery, mice were re-exposed to HDM while being treated with rapamycin or dexamethasone. In protocol 2, mice were exposed to HDM for 3 or 6 weeks and treated with rapamycin or dexamethasone during weeks 4–6. Characteristic features of allergic asthma, including IgE, goblet cells, airway hyperreactivity (AHR), inflammatory cells, cytokines/chemokines, and T cell responses were assessed. In protocol 1, both rapamycin and dexamethasone suppressed goblet cells and total CD4+ T cells including activated, effector, and regulatory T cells in the lung tissue, with no effect on AHR or total inflammatory cell numbers in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Rapamycin also suppressed IgE, although IL-4 and eotaxin 1 levels were augmented. In protocol 2, both drugs suppressed total CD4+ T cells, including activated, effector, and regulatory T cells and IgE levels. IL-4, eotaxin, and inflammatory cell numbers were increased after rapamycin and no effect on AHR was observed. Dexamethasone suppressed inflammatory cell numbers, especially eosinophils, but had limited effects on AHR. We conclude that while mTOR signaling is critical during the early phases of allergic asthma, its role is much more limited once disease is established.
PMCID: PMC3547928  PMID: 23349887

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