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1.  Respiratory syncytial virus infection provokes airway remodelling in allergen–exposed mice in absence of prior allergen sensitization 
The mechanisms underlying exacerbation of asthma induced by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection have been extensively studied in human and animal models. However, most of these studies focused on acute inflammation and little is known of its long-term consequences on remodelling of the airway tissue.
The aim of the study was to use a murine model of prolonged allergen-induced airway inflammation to investigate the effect of RSV infection on allergic airway inflammation and tissue remodelling.
We subjected mice to RSV infection before or during the chronic phase of airway challenges with OVA and compared parameters of airway inflammation and remodelling at the end-point of the prolonged allergen-induced airway inflammation protocol.
RSV infection did not affect the severity of airway inflammation in any of the groups studied. However, RSV infection provoked airway remodelling in non-sensitized, allergen-challenged mice that did not otherwise develop any of the features of allergic airways disease. Increased collagen synthesis in the lung and thickening of the bronchial basal membrane was observed in non-sensitized allergen-challenged mice only after prior RSV infection. In addition, fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 but not TGF-β1 was increased in this group following RSV infection.
Our data show for the first time that RSV infection can prime the lung of mice that are not previously systemically sensitized, to develop airway remodelling in response to allergen upon sole exposure via the airways. Moreover, our results implicate RSV-induced FGF-2 in the remodelling process in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3385350  PMID: 18498543
airway allergic inflammation; airway remodelling; asthma; RSV
2.  IL-12-STAT4-IFN-γ axis is a key downstream pathway in the development of IL-13-mediated asthma phenotypes in a Th2 type asthma model 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2010;42(8):533-546.
IL-4 and IL-13 are closely related cytokines that are produced by Th2 cells. However, IL-4 and IL-13 have different effects on the development of asthma phenotypes. Here, we evaluated downstream molecular mechanisms involved in the development of Th2 type asthma phenotypes. A murine model of Th2 asthma was used that involved intraperitoneal sensitization with an allergen (ovalbumin) plus alum and then challenge with ovalbumin alone. Asthma phenotypes, including airway-hyperresponsiveness (AHR), lung inflammation, and immunologic parameters were evaluated after allergen challenge in mice deficient in candidate genes. The present study showed that methacholine AHR and lung inflammation developed in allergen-challenged IL-4-deficient mice but not in allergen-challenged IL-13-deficient mice. In addition, the production of OVA-specific IgG2a and IFN-γ-inducible protein (IP)-10 was also impaired in the absence of IL-13, but not of IL-4. Lung-targeted IFN-γ over-expression in the airways enhanced methacholine AHR and non-eosinophilic inflammation; in addition, these asthma phenotypes were impaired in allergen-challenged IFN-γ-deficient mice. Moreover, AHR, non-eosinophilic inflammation, and IFN-γ expression were impaired in allergen-challenged IL-12Rβ2- and STAT4-deficient mice; however, AHR and non-eosinophilic inflammation were not impaired in allergen-challenged IL-4Rα-deficient mice, and these phenomena were accompanied by the enhanced expression of IL-12 and IFN-γ. The present data suggest that IL-13-mediated asthma phenotypes, such as AHR and non-eosinophilic inflammation, in the Th2 type asthma are dependent on the IL-12-STAT4-IFN-γ axis, and that these asthma phenotypes are independent of IL-4Ralpha-mediated signaling.
PMCID: PMC2928926  PMID: 20592486
asthma; interferon-γ; interleukin-12; interleukin-13; respiratory hypersensitivity; Th2 cells
3.  Allergen-Induced Coexpression of bFGF and TGF-β1 by Macrophages in a Mouse Model of Airway Remodeling: bFGF Induces Macrophage TGF-β1 Expression in vitro 
Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a cytokine that is mitogenic for fibroblasts and smooth muscle and may play a role in airway remodeling in asthma. We have used a mouse model of chronic ovalbumin (OVA) allergen-induced airway remodeling to determine whether bFGF and fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 are expressed and regulated by corticosteroids in the airway, as well as to determine whether bFGF mediates expression of another proremodeling cytokine, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1.
The airway levels and localization of bFGF, FGF receptor-1 and TGF-β1 were determined by ELISA, immunohistology and image analysis in the remodeled airways of chronic OVA-challenged mice treated with either corticosteroids or diluent. In vitro cultures of bone narrow-derived macrophages were used to determine whether bFGF induced TGF-β1 expression.
Mice chronically challenged with OVA developed significant airway remodeling that was associated with significantly increased levels of bFGF and TGF-β1. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated significantly increased bFGF and FGF receptor-1 expression by peri- bronchial F4/80+ cells. Double-label immunofluorescence microscopy studies demonstrated that peribronchial macrophages coexpressed bFGF and TGF-β1. In vitro studies demonstrated that incubation of bone marrow-derived macrophages with bFGF induced expression of TGF-β1. Mice treated with corticosteroids and subjected to chronic OVA challenge had significantly reduced levels of bFGF, FGF receptor-1, peribronchial TGF-β1+ cells and airway remodeling.
Overall, this study demonstrates that allergen challenge stimulates peribronchial macrophages to coexpress bFGF and TGF-β1 and that bFGF may potentiate macrophage release of TGF-β1 through autocrine and/or paracrine pathways.
PMCID: PMC2997445  PMID: 21109744
Eosinophils; Allergy; Transforming growth factor-β1; Basic fibroblast growth factor
4.  Development of a Novel Severe Triple Allergen Asthma Model in Mice Which Is Resistant to Dexamethasone and Partially Resistant to TLR7 and TLR9 Agonist Treatment 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91223.
Severe asthma is characterised by persistent inflammation, hyperreactivity and remodeling of the airways. No efficient treatment is available, this is particularly the case for steroid resistant phenotypes. Our aim therefore was to develop a preclinical model showing characteristics of severe human asthma including steroid insensitivity. Mice were first sensitized with ovalbumin, extracts of cockroach or house dust mite followed by a challenge period of seven weeks. Further to this, an additional group of mice was sensitized with all three allergens and then challenged with allergen alternating weekly between allergens. All three allergens applied separately to the mice induced comparably strong Th2-type airway inflammation, airway hyperreactivity and airway remodeling, which was characterised by fibrosis and increased smooth muscle thickness. In contrast, application of all three allergens together resulted in a greater Th2 response and increased airway hyperreactivity and a stronger albeit not significant remodeling phenotype compared to using HDM or CRA. In this triple allergen model dexamethasone application, during the last 4 weeks of challenge, showed no suppressive effects on any of these parameters in this model. In contrast, both TLR7 agonist resiquimod and TLR9 agonist CpG-ODN reduced allergen-specific IgE, eosinophils, and collagen I in the lungs. The TLR9 agonist also reduced IL-4 and IL-5 whilst increasing IFN-γ and strongly IL-10 levels in the lungs, effects not seen with the TLR7 agonist. However, neither TLR agonist had any effect on airway hyperreactivity and airway smooth muscle mass. In conclusion we have developed a severe asthma model, which is steroid resistant and only partially sensitive to TLR7 and TLR9 agonist treatment. This model may be particular useful to test new potential therapeutics aiming at treating steroid resistant asthma in humans and investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for steroid insensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3949744  PMID: 24618687
5.  IL-18 Induces Airway Hyperresponsiveness and Pulmonary Inflammation via CD4+ T Cell and IL-13 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54623.
IL-18 plays a key role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary inflammatory diseases including pulmonary infection, pulmonary fibrosis, lung injury and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it is unknown whether IL-18 plays any role in the pathogenesis of asthma. We hypothesized that overexpression of mature IL-18 protein in the lungs may exacerbate disease activities of asthma. We established lung-specific IL-18 transgenic mice on a Balb/c genetic background. Female mice sensitized– and challenged– with antigen (ovalbumin) were used as a mouse asthma model. Pulmonary inflammation and emphysema were not observed in the lungs of naïve transgenic mice. However, airway hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammatory cells accompanied with CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, eosinophils, neutrophils, and macrophages were significantly increased in ovalbumin-sensitized and challenged transgenic mice, as compared to wild type Balb/c mice. We also demonstrate that IL-18 induces IFN-γ, IL-13, and eotaxin in the lungs of ovalbumin-sensitized and challenged transgenic mice along with an increase in IL-13 producing CD4+ T cells. Treatment with anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody or deletion of the IL-13 gene improves ovalbumin-induced airway hyperresponsiveness and reduces airway inflammatory cells in transgenic mice. Overexpressing the IL-18 protein in the lungs induces type 1 and type 2 cytokines and airway inflammation, and results in increasing airway hyperresponsiveness via CD4+ T cells and IL-13 in asthma.
PMCID: PMC3558507  PMID: 23382928
6.  Anti-Fas mAb-induced apoptosis and cytolysis of airway tissue eosinophils aggravates rather than resolves established inflammation 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):90.
Fas receptor-mediated eosinophil apoptosis is currently forwarded as a mechanism resolving asthma-like inflammation. This view is based on observations in vitro and in airway lumen with unknown translatability to airway tissues in vivo. In fact, apoptotic eosinophils have not been detected in human diseased airway tissues whereas cytolytic eosinophils abound and constitute a major mode of degranulation of these cells. Also, Fas receptor stimulation may bypass the apoptotic pathway and directly evoke cytolysis of non-apoptotic cells. We thus hypothesized that effects of anti-Fas mAb in vivo may include both apoptosis and cytolysis of eosinophils and, hence, that established eosinophilic inflammation may not resolve by this treatment.
Weeklong daily allergen challenges of sensitized mice were followed by airway administration of anti-Fas mAb. BAL was performed and airway-pulmonary tissues were examined using light and electron microscopy. Lung tissue analysis for CC-chemokines, apoptosis, mucus production and plasma exudation (fibrinogen) were performed.
Anti-Fas mAb evoked apoptosis of 28% and cytolysis of 4% of eosinophils present in allergen-challenged airway tissues. Furthermore, a majority of the apoptotic eosinophils remained unengulfed and eventually exhibited secondary necrosis. A striking histopathology far beyond the allergic inflammation developed and included degranulated eosinophils, neutrophilia, epithelial derangement, plasma exudation, mucus-plasma plugs, and inducement of 6 CC-chemokines. In animals without eosinophilia anti-Fas evoked no inflammatory response.
An efficient inducer of eosinophil apoptosis in airway tissues in vivo, anti-Fas mAb evoked unprecedented asthma-like inflammation in mouse allergic airways. This outcome may partly reflect the ability of anti-Fas to evoke direct cytolysis of non-apoptotic eosinophils in airway tissues. Additionally, since most apoptotic tissue eosinophils progressed into the pro-inflammatory cellular fate of secondary necrosis this may also explain the aggravated inflammation. Our data indicate that Fas receptor mediated eosinophil apoptosis in airway tissues in vivo may cause severe disease exacerbation due to direct cytolysis and secondary necrosis of eosinophils.
PMCID: PMC1187926  PMID: 16086832
asthma; allergy; eosinophils; apoptosis; chemokines
7.  Aspirin attenuates the anti-inflammatory effects of theophylline via inhibition of cAMP production in mice with non-eosinophilic asthma 
Theophylline is commonly used to treat severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characterized by non-eosinophilic inflammation. Acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) is one of the most widely used medications worldwide, but up to 20% of patients with asthma experience aggravated respiratory symptoms after taking ASA. Here we evaluated the adverse effect of ASA on the therapeutic effect of theophylline in mice with non-eosinophilic asthma. A non-eosinophilic asthma mouse model was induced by airway sensitization with lipopolysaccharide-containing allergen and then challenged with allergen alone. Therapeutic intervention was performed during allergen challenge. Theophylline inhibited lung inflammation partly induced by Th1 immune response. ASA attenuated the beneficial effects of theophylline. However, co-administration of the ASA metabolite salicylic acid (SA) showed no attenuating effect on theophylline treatment. The therapeutic effect of theophylline was associated with increase in cAMP levels, which was blocked by co-treatment of theophylline and ASA. ASA co-treatment also attenuated the anti-inflammatory effects of a specific phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor. These results demonstrate that ASA reverses anti-inflammatory effects of theophylline, and that ASA exerts its adverse effects through the inhibition of cAMP production. Our data suggest that ASA reverses lung inflammation in patients taking theophylline, although clinical evidence will be needed.
PMCID: PMC2811820  PMID: 19887894
adverse effect; aspirin; asthma, aspirin-induced; cyclic AMP; cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases, type 4; drug toxicity; pneumonia; theophylline
8.  Endotoxin Exposure during Sensitization to Blomia tropicalis Allergens Shifts TH2 Immunity Towards a TH17-Mediated Airway Neutrophilic Inflammation: Role of TLR4 and TLR2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67115.
Experimental evidence and epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (eLPS) or other TLR agonists prevent asthma. We have previously shown in the OVA-model of asthma that eLPS administration during alum-based allergen sensitization blocked the development of lung TH2 immune responses via MyD88 pathway and IL-12/IFN-γ axis. In the present work we determined the effect of eLPS exposure during sensitization to a natural airborne allergen extract derived from the house dust mite Blomia tropicalis (Bt). Mice were subcutaneously sensitized with Bt allergens co-adsorbed onto alum with or without eLPS and challenged twice intranasally with Bt. Cellular and molecular parameters of allergic lung inflammation were evaluated 24 h after the last Bt challenge. Exposure to eLPS but not to ultrapure LPS (upLPS) preparation during sensitization to Bt allergens decreased the influx of eosinophils and increased the influx of neutrophils to the airways. Inhibition of airway eosinophilia was not observed in IFN-γdeficient mice while airway neutrophilia was not observed in IL-17RA-deficient mice as well in mice lacking MyD88, CD14, TLR4 and, surprisingly, TLR2 molecules. Notably, exposure to a synthetic TLR2 agonist (PamCSK4) also induced airway neutrophilia that was dependent on TLR2 and TLR4 molecules. In the OVA model, exposure to eLPS or PamCSK4 suppressed OVA-induced airway inflammation. Our results suggest that B. tropicalis allergens engage TLR4 that potentiates TLR2 signaling. This dual TLR activation during sensitization results in airway neutrophilic inflammation associated with increased frequency of lung TH17 cells. Our work highlight the complex interplay between bacterial products, house dust mite allergens and TLR signaling in the induction of different phenotypes of airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3689683  PMID: 23805294
9.  Combined Sensitization of Mice to Extracts of Dust Mites, Ragweed and Aspergillus Breaks through Tolerance and Establishes Chronic Features of Asthma in Mice 
Existing asthma models develop tolerance when chronically exposed to the same allergen.
To establish a chronic model that sustains features of asthma long after discontinuation of allergen exposure.
We immunized and exposed mice to a combination of single, double or triple allergens (dust-mite, ragweed, and Aspergillus) intranasally for 8 weeks. Airway hyperreactivity and morphological features of asthma were studied 3 weeks after the allergen exposure. Signaling effects of the allergens were studied on dendritic cells.
Sensitization and repeated exposure to a single allergen induced tolerance. Sensitization to double, and especially triple allergens broke through tolerance and established AHR, eosinophilic inflammation, mast cell and smooth muscle hyperplasia, mucus production and airway remodeling that persisted at least 3 weeks after allergen exposure. Mucosal exposure to triple allergens in the absence of an adjuvant was sufficient to induce chronic airway inflammation. Anti-IL5 and -IL13 antibodies inhibited inflammation and AHR in the acute asthma model but not in the chronic triple allergen model. Multiple allergens produce a synergy in p38 MAPK signaling and maturation of dendritic cells, which provides a heightened T cell co-stimulation at a level that cannot be achieved with a single allergen.
Sensitivity to multiple allergens leads to chronic asthma in mice. Multiple allergens synergize in dendritic cell signaling and T cell stimulation that allows escape from the single allergen-associated tolerance development.
Clinical Implications
We have developed a model of chronic asthma that allows for the study and treatment of long-lasting features of asthma obviating the need for acute de novo allergen challenges.
PMCID: PMC2683988  PMID: 19348928
chronic asthma; mouse; inflammation; airway hyperreactivity; tolerance; dendritic cells
10.  ASHMI™ induced long-lasting tolerance to allergen exposure in an asthma model is interferon - γ, but not TGF-β dependent 
Chronic allergic asthma is the result of a Th2- biased immune status. Current asthma therapies control symptoms in some patients, but a long lasting therapy has not been established. ASHMI™, a Chinese herbal formula improved symptoms and lung function, and reduced Th2 responses in a controlled trial of patients with persistent moderate to severe asthma.
We evaluated the persistence of ASHMI™ beneficial effects following therapy in a murine model of persistent asthma and the immunological mechanisms underlying such effects. BALB/c mice sensitized intraperitoneally with ovalbumin (OVA) received 3 weekly intratracheal OVA challenges to induce airway hyperreactivity (AHR) and inflammation (OVA mice). Additional OVA mice were treated with ASHMI™ (OVA/ASHMI™) or water (OVA/Sham) for 4 weeks, and then challenged immediately and eight weeks post-therapy. In other experiments OVA mice received ASHMI™ treatment with concomitant neutralization of IFN-γ or TGF-β. Effects on airway responses, cytokine and OVA-specific IgE levels were determined 8 weeks post-therapy.
Prior to treatment, OVA mice exhibited AHR and pulmonary eosinophilic inflammation following OVA challenge, which was almost completely resolved immediately after completing treatment with ASHMI™ and did not re-occur following OVA re-challenge up to 8 wks post-therapy. Reduced allergen-specific IgE and Th2 cytokine levels, and increased IFN-γ levels also persisted at least 8 wks post-therapy. ASHMI™ effects were eliminated by neutralization of IFN-γ, but not TGF-β, during therapy.
ASHMI™ induced long-lasting post-therapy tolerance to antigen-induced inflammation and AHR. IFN-γ is a critical factor in ASHMI™ effects.
PMCID: PMC2946973  PMID: 20573156
Allergic asthma; Mice; Traditional Chinese Medicine; Th-2 cytokines; Interferon-γ; IgE
11.  Haemophilus influenzae Infection Drives IL-17-Mediated Neutrophilic Allergic Airways Disease 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(10):e1002244.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3188527  PMID: 21998577
12.  Amelioration of the premature ageing-like features of Fgf-23 knockout mice by genetically restoring the systemic actions of FGF-23 
The Journal of pathology  2008;216(3):345-355.
Genetic ablation of fibroblast growth factor 23 from mice (Fgf-23−/−) results in a short lifespan with numerous abnormal biochemical and morphological features. Such features include kyphosis, hypogonadism and associated infertility, osteopenia, pulmonary emphysema, severe vascular and soft tissue calcifications, and generalized atrophy of various tissues. To determine whether these widespread anomalies in Fgf-23−/− mice can be ameliorated by genetically restoring the systemic actions of FGF-23, we generated Fgf-23−/− mice expressing the human FGF-23 transgene in osteoblasts under the control of the 2.3 kb α1(I) collagen promoter (Fgf-23−/−/hFGF-23-Tg double mutants). This novel mouse model is completely void of all endogenous Fgf-23 activity, but produces human FGF-23 in bone cells that is subsequently released into the circulation. Our results suggest that lack of Fgf-23 activities results in extensive premature ageing-like features and early mortality of Fgf-23−/− mice, while restoring the systemic effects of FGF-23 significantly ameliorates these phenotypes, with the resultant effect being improved growth, restored fertility, and significantly prolonged survival of double mutants. With regard to their serum biochemistry, double mutants reversed the severe hyperphosphataemia, hypercalcaemia, and hypervitaminosis D found in Fgf-23−/− littermates; rather, double mutants show hypophosphataemia and normal serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 levels similar to pure FGF-23 Tg mice. These changes were associated with reduced renal expression of NaPi2a and 1α-hydroxylase, compared to Fgf-23−/− mice. FGF-23 acts to prevent widespread abnormal features by acting systemically to regulate phosphate homeostasis and vitamin D metabolism. This novel mouse model provides us with an in vivo tool to study the systemic effects of FGF-23 in regulating mineral ion metabolism and preventing multiple abnormal phenotypes without the interference of native Fgf-23.
PMCID: PMC2776048  PMID: 18729070
organ atrophy; mineral ion homeostasis; vitamin D metabolism; transgene; human FGF23
13.  Overexpression of Fibroblast Growth Factor-10 during Both Inflammatory and Fibrotic Phases Attenuates Bleomycin-induced Pulmonary Fibrosis in Mice 
Rationale: Fibroblast growth factor-10 (FGF10) controls survival, proliferation, and differentiation of distal-alveolar epithelial progenitor cells during lung development.
Objectives: To test for the protective and regenerative effect of Fgf10 overexpression in a bleomycin-induced mouse model of pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis.
Methods: In SP-C-rtTA; tet(O)Fgf10 double-transgenic mice, lung fibrosis was induced in 2-month-old transgenic mice by subcutaneous delivery of bleomycin (BLM), using an osmotic minipump for 1 week. Exogenous Fgf10 expression in the alveolar epithelium was induced for 7 days with doxycycline during the first, second, and third weeks after bleomycin pump implantation, and lungs were examined at 28 days.
Measurements and Main Results: Fgf10 overexpression during Week 1 (inflammatory phase) resulted in increased survival and attenuated lung fibrosis score and collagen deposition. In these Fgf10-overexpressing mice, an increase in regulatory T cells and a reduction in both transforming growth factor-β1 and matrix metalloproteinase-2 activity were observed in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids whereas the number of surfactant protein C (SP-C)–positive, alveolar epithelial type II cells (AEC2) was markedly elevated. Analysis of SP-C and TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase dUTP nick end labeling) double-positive cells and isolation of AEC2 from lungs overexpressing Fgf10 demonstrated increased AEC2 survival. Expression of Fgf10 during Weeks 2 and 3 (fibrotic phase) showed significant attenuation of the lung fibrosis score and collagen deposition.
Conclusions: In the bleomycin model of lung inflammation and fibrosis, Fgf10 overexpression during both the inflammatory and fibrotic phases results in a greatly reduced extent of lung fibrosis, suggesting that FGF10 may be useful as a novel approach to the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2742760  PMID: 19498056
bleomycin; fibrosis; Fgf10; transforming growth factor-β1; alveolar epithelial progenitors
14.  Aeroallergen-induced eosinophilic inflammation, lung damage, and airways hyperreactivity in mice can occur independently of IL-4 and allergen-specific immunoglobulins. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;99(6):1329-1339.
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.
PMCID: PMC507949  PMID: 9077543
15.  Ingestion of milk containing the Dp2 peptide, a dust mite allergen, protects mice from allergic airway inflammation and hyper-responsiveness 
Allergen-specific immunotherapy has been demonstrated to have potential for the treatment of allergic diseases. Transgenic animals are currently the best available bioreactors to produce recombinant proteins, which can be secreted in milk. It has not been clearly demonstrated whether milk from transgenic animals expressing recombinant allergens has immunomodulatory effects on allergic asthma.
We aimed to determine whether the oral administration of milk containing a mite allergen can down-regulate allergen-specific airway inflammation. Transgenic CD-1 mice that express a recombinant group 2 allergen from Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Dp2) in their milk were generated using an embryonic gene-microinjection technique. Mouse pups were fed transgenic Dp2-containing milk or wild-type milk. Subsequently, these mice were sensitized and challenged with Dp2 to induce allergic airway inflammation.
Upon sensitization and challenge, mice fed transgenic Dp2 milk had decreased T-helper 2 (Th2) and increased T-helper 1 (Th1) responses in the airway compared with mice fed wild-type milk. Moreover, pre-treatment with transgenic Dp2 milk attenuated airway inflammation and decreased airway hyper-responsiveness.
This study provides new evidence that oral administration of transgenic milk containing the Dp2 allergen down-regulated and moderately protected against allergic airway inflammation. Milk from transgenic animals expressing allergens may have potential use in the prevention of allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3689609  PMID: 23763898
Transgenic mice; Allergen; Asthma; Immunotherapy; Group 2 allergen of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus; Tolerance
16.  Effects of steroid treatment on lung CC chemokines, apoptosis and transepithelial cell clearance during development and resolution of allergic airway inflammation 
Steroid treatment of allergic eosinophilic airway diseases is considered to attenuate cell recruitment by inhibiting several chemokines and to cause eosinophil clearance through inducement of apoptosis of these cells. However, roles of these mechanisms in the actions of steroids in vivo have not been fully established. Also, as regards clearance of tissue eosinophils other mechanisms than apoptosis may operate in vivo.
This study explores anti-inflammatory effects of steroids instituted during either development or resolution of airway allergic inflammation.
Immunized mice were subjected to week-long daily allergen challenges (ovalbumin). Steroid treatment was instituted either amidst the challenges or exclusively post-allergen challenge. CC chemokines, goblet cell hyperplasia, occurrence of eosinophil apoptosis, and airway tissue as well as lumen eosinophilia were examined at different time-points.
Daily steroids instituted amid the allergen challenges non-selectively attenuated a range of chemokines, permitted egression of tissue eosinophils into airway lumen to increase, and reduced development of lung tissue eosinophilia. Steroid treatment instituted post-challenge selectively inhibited the CC-chemokine regulation upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secrted (RANTES), permitted continued egression of eosinophils into airway lumen, and resolved the tissue eosinophilia. Eosinophil apoptosis rarely occurred at development and resolution of the allergic eosinophilic inflammation whether the animals were steroid treated or not. However, anti-Fas monoclonal antibodies given to mice with established eosinophilia post-challenge produced apoptosis of the tissue eosinophils indicating that apoptotic eosinophils, if they occur, are well detectible in vivo.
Airway tissue eosinophils are likely eliminated through egression into airway lumen with little involvement of apoptosis and phagocytosis. Our data further suggest that therapeutic steroids may resolve airway inflammation by permitting clearance of tissue eosinophils through egression and inhibiting RANTES-dependent cell recruitment to lung tissues.
PMCID: PMC3389735  PMID: 16393273
apoptosis; asthma; chemokines; glucocorticoids
17.  Inhibition of neutrophil elastase attenuates airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in a mouse model of secondary allergen challenge: neutrophil elastase inhibition attenuates allergic airway responses 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):8.
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.
PMCID: PMC3570429  PMID: 23347423
Neutrophil; Elastase; Airway; Hyperresponsiveness; Asthma
18.  Early-life viral infection and allergen exposure interact to induce an asthmatic phenotype in mice 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):14.
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.
PMCID: PMC2842242  PMID: 20122285
19.  Association between markers of emphysema and more severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Thorax  2006;61(12):1037-1042.
The predominant emphysema phenotype is associated with more severe airflow limitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study was undertaken to investigate whether COPD patients, with or without emphysema quantitatively confirmed by high resolution computed tomography (HRCT), have different COPD severity as assessed by the BODE index (body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnoea, exercise performance) and inspiratory capacity to total lung capacity ratio (IC/TLC), and by different biological markers of lung parenchymal destruction.
Twenty six outpatients with COPD and eight healthy non‐smokers were examined. Each subject underwent HRCT scanning, pulmonary function tests, cell counts, and measurements of neutrophil elastase, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‐9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)‐1 in induced sputum, as well as measurement of desmosine, a marker of elastin degradation in urine, plasma and sputum.
Patients with HRCT confirmed emphysema had a higher BODE index and lower IC/TLC ratio than subjects without HRCT confirmed emphysema and controls. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio, and carbon monoxide transfer coefficient were lower, whereas the number of eosinophils, MMP‐9, and the MMP‐9/TIMP‐1 ratio in sputum were higher in patients with emphysema. In COPD patients the number of sputum eosinophils was the biological variable that correlated positively with the HRCT score of emphysema (p = 0.04).
These results suggest that COPD associated with HRCT confirmed emphysema is characterised by more severe lung function impairment, more intense airway inflammation and, possibly, more serious systemic dysfunction than COPD not associated with HRCT confirmed emphysema.
PMCID: PMC2117071  PMID: 16769715
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; biological markers; outcomes
20.  KCa3.1 Channel-Blockade Attenuates Airway Pathophysiology in a Sheep Model of Chronic Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66886.
The Ca2+-activated K+ channel KCa3.1 is expressed in several structural and inflammatory airway cell types and is proposed to play an important role in the pathophysiology of asthma. The aim of the current study was to determine whether inhibition of KCa3.1 modifies experimental asthma in sheep.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Atopic sheep were administered either 30 mg/kg Senicapoc (ICA-17073), a selective inhibitor of the KCa3.1-channel, or vehicle alone (0.5% methylcellulose) twice daily (orally). Both groups received fortnightly aerosol challenges with house dust mite allergen for fourteen weeks. A separate sheep group received no allergen challenges or drug treatment. In the vehicle-control group, twelve weeks of allergen challenges resulted in a 60±19% increase in resting airway resistance, and this was completely attenuated by treatment with Senicapoc (0.25±12%; n = 10, P = 0.0147). The vehicle-control group had a peak-early phase increase in lung resistance of 82±21%, and this was reduced by 58% with Senicapoc treatment (24±14%; n = 10, P = 0.0288). Senicapoc-treated sheep also demonstrated reduced airway hyperresponsiveness, requiring a significantly higher dose of carbachol to increase resistance by 100% compared to allergen-challenged vehicle-control sheep (20±5 vs. 52±18 breath-units of carbachol; n = 10, P = 0.0340). Senicapoc also significantly reduced eosinophil numbers in bronchoalveolar lavage taken 48 hours post-allergen challenge, and reduced vascular remodelling.
These findings suggest that KCa3.1-activity contributes to allergen-induced airway responses, inflammation and vascular remodelling in a sheep model of asthma, and that inhibition of KCa3.1 may be an effective strategy for blocking allergen-induced airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in humans.
PMCID: PMC3691218  PMID: 23826167
21.  Overexpression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase suppresses features of allergic asthma in mice 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):58.
Asthma is associated with airway hyperresponsiveness and enhanced T-cell number/activity on one hand and increased levels of exhaled nitric oxide (NO) with expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) on the other hand. These findings are in paradox, as NO also relaxes airway smooth muscle and has immunosuppressive properties. The exact role of the endothelial NOS (eNOS) isoform in asthma is still unknown. We hypothezised that a delicate regulation in the production of NO and its bioactive forms by eNOS might be the key to the pathogenesis of asthma.
The contribution of eNOS on the development of asthmatic features was examined. We used transgenic mice that overexpress eNOS and measured characteristic features of allergic asthma after sensitisation and challenge of these mice with the allergen ovalbumin.
eNOS overexpression resulted in both increased eNOS activity and NO production in the lungs. Isolated thoracic lymph nodes cells from eNOS overexpressing mice that have been sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin produced significantly less of the cytokines IFN-γ, IL-5 and IL-10. No difference in serum IgE levels could be found. Further, there was a 50% reduction in the number of lymphocytes and eosinophils in the lung lavage fluid of these animals. Finally, airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine was abolished in eNOS overexpressing mice.
These findings demonstrate that eNOS overexpression attenuates both airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness in a model of allergic asthma. We suggest that a delicate balance in the production of bioactive forms of NO derived from eNOS might be essential in the pathophysiology of asthma.
PMCID: PMC1456969  PMID: 16597326
22.  Thioredoxin-1 Protects against Neutrophilic Inflammation and Emphysema Progression in a Mouse Model of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79016.
Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are characterized by acute enhancement of airway neutrophilic inflammation under oxidative stress and can be involved in emphysema progression. However, pharmacotherapy against the neutrophilic inflammation and emphysema progression associated with exacerbation has not been established. Thioredoxin-1 has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties and it can ameliorate neutrophilic inflammation through anti-chemotactic effects and prevent cigarette smoke (CS)-induced emphysema. We aimed to determine whether thioredoxin-1 can suppress neutrophilic inflammation and emphysema progression in a mouse model of COPD exacerbation and if so, to reveal the underlying mechanisms.
Mice were exposed to CS and then challenged with polyinosine-polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], an agonist for virus-induced innate immunity. Airway neutrophilic inflammation, oxidative stress and lung apoptosis were enhanced in smoke-sensitive C57Bl/6, but not in smoke-resistant NZW mice. Exposure to CS and poly(I:C) challenge accelerated emphysema progression in C57Bl/6 mice. Thioredoxin-1 suppressed neutrophilic inflammation and emphysema progression. Poly(I:C) caused early neutrophilic inflammation through keratinocyte-derived chemokine and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) release in the lung exposed to CS. Late neutrophilic inflammation was caused by persistent GM-CSF release, which thioredoxin-1 ameliorated. Thioredoxin-1 enhanced pulmonary mRNA expression of MAP kinase phosphatase 1 (MKP-1), and the suppressive effects of thioredoxin-1 on prolonged GM-CSF release and late neutrophilic inflammation disappeared by inhibiting MKP-1.
Using a mouse model of COPD exacerbation, we demonstrated that thioredoxin-1 ameliorated neutrophilic inflammation by suppressing GM-CSF release, which prevented emphysema progression. Our findings deepen understanding of the mechanisms underlying the regulation of neutrophilic inflammation by thioredoxin-1 and indicate that thioredoxin-1 could have potential as a drug to counteract COPD exacerbation.
PMCID: PMC3823967  PMID: 24244404
23.  IL-33 and Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Mediate Immune Pathology in Response to Chronic Airborne Allergen Exposure 
Humans are frequently exposed to various airborne allergens in the atmospheric environment. These allergens may trigger a complex network of immune responses in the airways, resulting in asthma and other chronic airway diseases. Here, we investigated the immunological mechanisms involved in the pathological changes induced by chronic exposure to multiple airborne allergens. Naïve mice were exposed intranasally to a combination of common airborne allergens, including the house dust mite, Alternaria, and Aspergillus, for up to 8 weeks. These allergens acted synergistically and induced robust eosinophilic airway inflammation, specific IgE antibody production, type 2 cytokine response and airway hyperreactivity (AHR) in 4 weeks, followed by airway remodeling in 8 weeks. Increased lung infiltration of T cells, B cells, and type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) was observed. CD4+ T cells and ILC2s contributed to the sources of IL-5 and IL-13, suggesting involvement of both innate and adaptive immunity in this model. The lung levels of IL-33 increased quickly within several hours after allergen exposure and continued to rise throughout the chronic phase of inflammation. Mice deficient in IL-33 receptor (Il1rl1−/−) and TSLP receptor (Tslpr−/−) showed significant reduction in airway inflammation, IgE antibody levels and AHR. In contrast, mice deficient in IL-25 receptor or IL-1 receptor showed minimal differences as compared to wild-type animals. Thus, chronic exposure to natural airborne allergens triggers a network of innate and adaptive type 2 immune responses and airway pathology, and IL-33 and TSLP likely play key roles in this process.
PMCID: PMC4119518  PMID: 25015831
24.  IL-33 and Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin Mediate Immune Pathology in Response to Chronic Airborne Allergen Exposure 
Humans are frequently exposed to various airborne allergens in the atmospheric environment. These allergens may trigger a complex network of immune responses in the airways, resulting in asthma and other chronic airway diseases. Here, we investigated the immunological mechanisms involved in the pathological changes induced by chronic exposure to multiple airborne allergens. Naïve mice were exposed intranasally to a combination of common airborne allergens, including the house dust mite, Alternaria, and Aspergillus, for up to 8 weeks. These allergens acted synergistically and induced robust eosinophilic airway inflammation, specific IgE antibody production, type 2 cytokine response and airway hyperreactivity (AHR) in 4 weeks, followed by airway remodeling in 8 weeks. Increased lung infiltration of T cells, B cells, and type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) was observed. CD4+ T cells and ILC2s contributed to the sources of IL-5 and IL-13, suggesting involvement of both innate and adaptive immunity in this model. The lung levels of IL-33 increased quickly within several hours after allergen exposure and continued to rise throughout the chronic phase of inflammation. Mice deficient in IL-33 receptor (Il1rl1−/−) and TSLP receptor (Tslpr−/−) showed significant reduction in airway inflammation, IgE antibody levels and AHR. In contrast, mice deficient in IL-25 receptor or IL-1 receptor showed minimal differences as compared to wild-type animals. Thus, chronic exposure to natural airborne allergens triggers a network of innate and adaptive type 2 immune responses and airway pathology, and IL-33 and TSLP likely play key roles in this process.
PMCID: PMC4119518  PMID: 25015831
25.  Exaggerated IL-17 response to epicutaneous sensitization mediates airway inflammation in the absence of IL-4 and IL-13 
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.
Clinical implications
Blockade of IL-4 may promote IL-17-mediated airway inflammation in AD.
PMCID: PMC2895457  PMID: 19815118
IL-17; Th2 cytokines; atopic dermatitis; asthma

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