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1.  Nicotine Primarily Suppresses Lung Th2 but not Goblet Cell and Muscle Cell Responses to Allergens 
Allergic asthma, an inflammatory disease characterized by infiltration and activation of various leukocytes, production of Th2 cytokines and leukotrienes, and atopy, also affects the function of other cell types, causing goblet cell hyperplasia/hypertrophy, increased mucus production/secretion, and airway hyperreactivity. Eosinophilic inflammation is a characteristic feature of human asthma, and recent evidence suggests that eosinophils also play a critical role in T cell trafficking in animal models of asthma. Nicotine is an anti-inflammatory, but the association between smoking and asthma is highly contentious, and some report that smoking cessation increases the risk of asthma in ex-smokers. To ascertain the effects of nicotine on allergy/asthma, Brown Norway rats were treated with nicotine, and sensitized and challenged with allergens. Results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung, including eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE. While nicotine did not significantly affect hexosaminidase release, IgG, or methacholine-induced airway resistance, it significantly decreased mucus content in bronchoalveolar lavage; interestingly, however, in spite of the strong suppression of IL-4/IL-13, nicotine significantly increased the intraepithelial stored mucosubstances, and Muc5ac mRNA expression. These results suggest that nicotine modulates allergy/asthma primarily by suppressing eosinophil trafficking and suppressing Th2 cytokine/chemokine responses without reducing goblet cell metaplasia, mucous production, and may explain the lower risk of allergic diseases in smokers. To our knowledge this is the first direct evidence that nicotine modulates allergic responses.
PMCID: PMC2614131  PMID: 18490768
2.  Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase Is Reduced in Airway Smooth Muscle Cells From a Murine Model of Allergic Asthma 
Airway remodeling plays an important role in the development of airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. Muscarinic agonists such as carbamylcholine increased cyclic GMP (cGMP) levels in bovine tracheal smooth muscle strips, via stimulation of NO-sensitive soluble guanylylcyclase (NO-sGC), which is an enzyme highly expressed in the lungs. cGMP production, by activation of a NO-sGC, may contribute to airway smooth muscle relaxation. To determine whether the bronchoconstriction observed in asthma is accompanied by changes in this NO-sGC activity, we used a well-established murine model, ovalbumin-airway smooth muscle cells (OVA-ASMCs) of allergic asthma to evaluate such hypothesis. Histologic studies of trachea specimens showed the existence of inflammation, hyperplasia and tissue remodeling in OVA-ASMCs. Interestingly, cultured OVA-ASMCs showed lower GC basal activity than CONTROL-ASMCs. Also, we found that both OVA-ASMCs and CONTROL cells exposed to carbamylcholine and sodium nitroprusside and combinations of both drugs increased cGMP levels, which were inhibited by 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-] quinoxalin-1-one. All the experimental evidence suggests that NO-sGC activity is reduced in isolated ASMCss from experimental asthma murine model.
PMCID: PMC3651105  PMID: 23282985
3.  Effects of nebulized ketamine on allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in actively sensitized Brown-Norway rats 
Since airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and allergic inflammatory changes are regarded as the primary manifestations of asthma, the main goals of asthma treatment are to decrease inflammation and maximize bronchodilation. These goals can be achieved with aerosol therapy. Intravenous administration of the anesthetic, ketamine, has been shown to trigger bronchial smooth muscle relaxation. Furthermore, increasing evidence suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of ketamine may protect against lung injury. However, ketamine inhalation might yield the same or better results at higher airway and lower ketamine plasma concentrations for the treatment of asthma. Here, we studied the effect of ketamine inhalation on bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammation in a Brown-Norway rat model of ovalbumin(OVA)-induced allergic asthma. Animals were actively sensitized by subcutaneous injection of OVA and challenged by repeated intermittent (thrice weekly) exposure to aerosolized OVA for two weeks. Before challenge, the sensitizened rats received inhalation of aerosol of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) or aerosol of ketamine or injection of ketamine respectivity. Airway reactivity to acetylcholine (Ach) was measured in vivo, and various inflammatory markers, including Th2 cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), as well as induciable nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and nitric oxide (NO) in lungs were examined. Our results revealed that delivery of aerosolized ketamine using an ultrasonic nebulizer markedly suppressed allergen-mediated airway hyperreactivity, airway inflammation and airway inflammatory cell infiltration into the BALF, and significantly decreased the levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4) in the BALF and expression of iNOS and the concentration of NO in the inflamed airways from OVA-treated rats. These findings collectively indicate that nebulized ketamine attenuated many of the central components of inflammatory changes and AHR in OVA-provoked experimental asthma, potentially providing a new therapeutic approach against asthma.
PMCID: PMC1876456  PMID: 17480224
4.  Prenatal and Early, but Not Late, Postnatal Exposure of Mice to Sidestream Tobacco Smoke Increases Airway Hyperresponsiveness Later in Life 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;117(9):1434-1440.
Cigarette smoke exposure in utero and during early postnatal development increases the incidence of asthma and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) later in life, suggesting that a possible critical period of developmental sensitivity exists in the prenatal and early postnatal periods.
We investigated mechanisms of susceptibility during critical developmental periods to sidestream smoke (SS) exposure and evaluated the possible effects of SS on neural responses.
We exposed three different age groups of mice to either SS or filtered air (FA) for 10 consecutive days beginning on gestation day (GD) 7 by maternal exposure or beginning on postnatal day (PND) 2 or PND21 by direct inhalation. Lung function, airway substance P (SP) innervation, and nerve growth factor (NGF) levels in broncho alveolar lavage fluid were measured after a single SS exposure on PND59.
Methacholine (MCh) dose response for lung resistance (RL) was significantly elevated, and dynamic pulmonary compliance (Cdyn) was significantly decreased, in the GD7 and PND2 SS exposure groups compared with the FA groups after SS exposure on PND59. At the same time points, the percent area of SP nerve fibers in tracheal smooth muscle and the levels of NGF were significantly elevated. MCh dose–response curves for RL and Cdyn, SP nerve fiber density, and the level of NGF were not significantly changed in the PND21 exposure group after SS exposure on PND59.
These results suggest that a critical period of susceptibility to SS exposure exists in the prenatal and early postnatal period of development in mice that results in increased SP innervation, increased NGF levels in the airway, and enhanced MCh AHR later in life.
PMCID: PMC2737022  PMID: 19750110
airway innervation; asthma; muscarinic agonists; neurokinin receptor; neurotrophic factor
5.  Secretory Leukocyte Protease Inhibitor Plays an Important Role in the Regulation of Allergic Asthma in Mice 
Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) is an anti-inflammatory protein that is observed at high levels in asthma patients. Resiquimod, a TLR7/8 ligand, is protective against acute and chronic asthma, and it increases SLPI expression of macrophages in vitro. However, the protective role played by SLPI and the interactions between the SLPI and resiquimod pathways in the immune response occurring in allergic asthma have not been fully elucidated. To evaluate the role of SLPI in the development of asthma phenotypes and the effect of resiquimod treatment on SLPI, we assessed airway resistance and inflammatory parameters in the lungs of OVA-induced asthmatic SLPI transgenic and knockout mice and in mice treated with resiquimod. Compared with wild-type mice, allergic SLPI transgenic mice showed a decrease in lung resistance (p < 0.001), airway eosinophilia (p < 0.001), goblet cell hyperplasia (p < 0.001), and plasma IgE levels (p < 0.001). Allergic SLPI knockout mice displayed phenotype changes significantly more severe compared with wild-type mice. These phenotypes included lung resistance (p < 0.001), airway eosinophilia (p < 0.001), goblet cell hyperplasia (p < 0.001), cytokine levels in the lungs (p < 0.05), and plasma IgE levels (p < 0.001). Treatment of asthmatic transgenic mice with resiquimod increased the expression of SLPI and decreased inflammation in the lungs; resiquimod treatment was still effective in asthmatic SLPI knockout mice. Taken together, our study showed that the expression of SLPI protects against allergic asthma phenotypes, and treatment by resiquimod is independent of SLPI expression, displayed through the use of transgenic and knockout SLPI mice.
PMCID: PMC3104396  PMID: 21335488
6.  Enhancement of goblet cell hyperplasia and airway hyperresponsiveness by salbutamol in a rat model of atopic asthma 
Thorax  2001;56(1):19-24.
BACKGROUND—Goblet cell hyperplasia (GCH) is a prominent feature in animal models of atopic asthma produced by immunisation and following multiple challenges with antigens. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of a β2 agonist on the development of GCH induced by the immune response.
METHODS—Brown Norway rats were immunised and challenged with an aerosol of ovalbumin for four weeks. Salbutamol (0.5 mg/kg/day) or vehicle was continuously delivered for the four weeks using a subcutaneously implanted osmotic minipump. The density of goblet cells, other morphological changes, and airway responsiveness to methacholine were evaluated 24 hours after the final challenge.
RESULTS—Treatment with salbutamol induced a more than twofold increase in the mean (SE) number of goblet cells (53.7 (7.3) vs 114.5(11.8) cells/103 epithelial cells, p<0.01) while it did not significantly influence airway wall thickening and eosinophilic infiltration. Airway responsiveness to methacholine expressed as the logarithmic value of the concentration of methacholine required to generate a 50% increase in airway pressure (logPC150Mch) was also enhanced by the β2 agonist (-0.56 (0.21) vs -0.95 (0.05), p<0.05). Additional experiments revealed that the same dose of the β2 agonist alone did not cause GCH in non-immunised rats and that the enhancement of GCH by salbutamol was completely abolished by simultaneous treatment with methylprednisolone (0.5 mg/kg/day).
CONCLUSIONS—These data suggest that salbutamol enhances goblet cell hyperplasia and airway hyperresponsiveness in this rat model of atopic asthma.

PMCID: PMC1745918  PMID: 11120899
7.  Apolipoprotein E Negatively Regulates House Dust Mite–induced Asthma via a Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor–mediated Pathway 
Rationale: Distinct sets of corticosteroid-unresponsive genes modulate disease severity in asthma.
Objectives: To identify corticosteroid-unresponsive genes that provide new insights into disease pathogenesis and asthma therapeutics.
Methods: Experimental murine asthma was induced by nasal administration of house dust mite for 5 days per week. Dexamethasone and apolipoprotein E (apo E) mimetic peptides were administered via osmotic minipumps.
Measurements and Main Results: Genome-wide expression profiling of the lung transcriptome in a house dust mite–induced model of murine asthma identified increases in apo E mRNA levels that persisted despite corticosteroid treatment. House dust mite–challenged apo E−/− mice displayed enhanced airway hyperreactivity and goblet cell hyperplasia, which could be rescued by administration of an apo E(130–149) mimetic peptide. Administration of the apo E(130–149) mimetic peptide to house dust mite–challenged apo E−/− mice also inhibited eosinophilic airway inflammation, IgE production, and the expression of Th2 and Th17 cytokines. House dust mite–challenged low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) knockout mice displayed a similar phenotype as apo E−/− mice with enhanced airway hyperreactivity, goblet cell hyperplasia, and mucin gene expression, but could not be rescued by the apo E(130–149) mimetic peptide, consistent with a LDLR-dependent mechanism.
Conclusions: These findings for the first time identify an apo E–LDLR pathway as an endogenous negative regulator of airway hyperreactivity and goblet cell hyperplasia in asthma. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that strategies that activate the apo E–LDLR pathway, such as apo E mimetic peptides, might be developed into a novel treatment approach for patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC3001262  PMID: 20622028
asthma; house dust mite; apolipoprotein E; LDL receptor
8.  A comparison between intratracheal and inhalation delivery of Aspergillus fumigatus conidia in the development of fungal allergic asthma in C57BL/6 mice 
Fungal biology  2010;115(1):21-29.
Allergic asthma is a debilitating disease of the airways characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness, eosinophilic inflammation, goblet cell metaplasia with associated mucus hypersecretion, and airway wall remodelling events, particularly subepithelial fibrosis and smooth muscle cell hyperplasia. Animal models that accurately mimic these hallmarks of allergic airways disease are critical for studying mechanisms associated with the cellular and structural changes that lead to disease pathogenesis. Aspergillus fumigatus, is a common aeroallergen of human asthmatics. The intratracheal (IT) delivery of A. fumigatus conidia into the airways of sensitized mice has been described as a model of allergic disease. Here, we compared the IT model with a newly developed inhalation (IH) challenge model. The IH model allowed multiple fungal exposures, which resulted in an exacerbation to the allergic asthma phenotype. Increased recruitment of eosinophils and lymphocytes, the hallmark leukocytes of asthma, were noted with the IH model as compared to the IT model in which macrophages and neutrophils were more prominent. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) production was significantly greater after IH challenge, while that of IgG2a was higher after IT challenge. Airway wall remodelling was pronounced in IH-treated mice, particularly after multiple allergen challenges. Although the IT model may be appropriate for the examination of the played by innate cells in the acute response to fungus, it fails to consistently reproduce the chronic remodelling hallmarks of allergic asthma. The ability of the IH challenge to mimic these characteristics recommends it as a model suited to study these important events.
PMCID: PMC3053007  PMID: 21215951
Aspergillus fumigatus; Allergic asthma; Inhalation challenge model
9.  Parental and neonatal risk factors for atopy, airway hyper-responsiveness, and asthma. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1996;75(5):392-398.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have not resolved the importance of several potential risk factors for the development of childhood atopy, airway hyperresponsiveness, and wheezing, which would allow the rational selection of interventions to reduce morbidity from asthma. Risk factors for these disorders were examined in a birth cohort of 1037 New Zealand children. METHODS: Responses to questions on respiratory symptoms and measurements of lung function and airway responsiveness were obtained every two to three years throughout childhood and adolescence, with over 85% cohort retention at age 18 years. Atopy was determined by skin prick tests at age 13 years. Relations between parental and neonatal factors, the development of atopy, and features of asthma were determined by comparison of proportions and logistic regression. RESULTS: Male sex was a significant independent predictor for atopy, airway hyper-responsiveness, hay fever, and asthma. A positive family history, especially maternal, of asthma strongly predicted childhood atopy, airway hyperresponsiveness, asthma, and hay fever. Maternal smoking in the last trimester was correlated with the onset of childhood asthma by the age of 1 year. Birth in the winter season increased the risk of sensitisation to cats. Among those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever, birth in autumn and winter also increased the risk of sensitisation to house dust mites. The number of siblings, position in the family, socioeconomic status, and birth weight were not consistently predictive of any characteristic of asthma. CONCLUSIONS: Male sex, parental atopy, and maternal smoking during pregnancy are risk factors for asthma in young children. Children born in winter exhibit a greater prevalence of sensitisation to cats and house dust mites. These data suggest possible areas for intervention in children at risk because of parental atopy.
PMCID: PMC1511782  PMID: 8957951
10.  Multifactorial intervention for children with asthma and overweight (Mikado): study design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:494.
In children, the prevalence’s of both obesity and asthma are disconcertingly high. Asthmatic children with obesity are characterised by less asthma control and a high need for asthma medication. As the obese asthmatic child is becoming more common in the clinical setting and the disease burden of the asthma-obesity phenotype is high, there is an increasing need for effective treatment in these children. In adults, weight reduction resulted in improved lung function, better asthma control and less need for asthma medication. In children this is hardly studied. The Mikado study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a long term multifactorial weight reduction intervention, on asthma characteristics in children with asthma and a high body weight.
The Mikado study is a two-armed, randomised controlled trial. In total, 104 participants will be recruited via online questionnaires, pulmonary paediatricians, the youth department of the Municipal Health Services and cohorts of existing studies. All participants will be aged 6–16 years, will have current asthma, a Body Mass Index in the overweight or obesity range, and no serious comorbidities (such as diabetes, heart diseases). Participants in the intervention arm will receive a multifactorial intervention of 18 months consisting of sessions concerning sports, parental involvement, individual counselling and lifestyle advices including dietary advices and cognitive behavioural therapy. The control group will receive usual care. The primary outcome variables will include Forced Expiratory Volume in one second and Body Mass Index - Standard Deviation Score. Secondary outcomes will include other lung function parameters (including dynamic and static lung function parameters), asthma control, asthma-specific quality of life, use of asthma medication and markers of systemic inflammation and airway inflammation.
In this randomised controlled trial we will study the potential of a multifactorial weight reduction intervention to improve asthma-related outcome measures in asthmatic children with overweight. Moreover, it will provide information about the underlying mechanisms in the relationship between asthma and a high body weight in children. These findings can contribute to optimal management programs and better clinical guidelines for children with asthma and overweight.
Trial registration NCT00998413
PMCID: PMC3682864  PMID: 23692648
Asthmatic; BMI; Child; Obesity; Paediatric; Weight loss
11.  Severe Asthma in Children: Insights from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Severe Asthma Research Program 
Severe asthma in children is a complicated disorder characterized by ongoing symptoms and persistent airway inflammation despite treatment with high doses of inhaled and oral corticosteroids. Although knowledge of asthma and its associated mechanisms has increased substantially over the past decade, significant gaps remain about the determinants of severe asthma in children and the progression of the disorder across the lifespan. This review highlights recent insights into severe asthma in children derived from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP), with an emphasis on age-specific findings and differences from severe asthma in adults. While the existence of a true severe asthma phenotype in children is subject to some debate, given the results of SARP and other investigators, we conclude that there is indeed a subgroup of children with severe asthma who have extreme morbidity and differentiating clinical features that are identifiable very early in life. However, unlike adults with severe asthma, children with severe asthma are more likely to fall in a more narrow cluster that is characterized by marked atopy and reversible airflow obstruction. While SARP has advanced knowledge of severe asthma in children, considerable gaps remain for which additional studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC3134231  PMID: 21761006
12.  Severe Asthma in Children: Insights from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Severe Asthma Research Program 
Severe asthma in children is a complicated disorder characterized by ongoing symptoms and persistent airway inflammation despite treatment with high doses of inhaled and oral corticosteroids. Although knowledge of asthma and its associated mechanisms has increased substantially over the past decade, significant gaps remain about the determinants of severe asthma in children and the progression of the disorder across the lifespan. This review highlights recent insights into severe asthma in children derived from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP), with an emphasis on age-specific findings and differences from severe asthma in adults. While the existence of a true severe asthma phenotype in children is subject to some debate, given the results of SARP and other investigators, we conclude that there is indeed a subgroup of children with severe asthma who have extreme morbidity and differentiating clinical features that are identifiable very early in life. However, unlike adults with severe asthma, children with severe asthma are more likely to fall in a more narrow cluster that is characterized by marked atopy and reversible airflow obstruction. While SARP has advanced knowledge of severe asthma in children, considerable gaps remain for which additional studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC3134231  PMID: 21761006
13.  Asthma and atopy in overweight children 
Thorax  2003;58(12):1031-1035.
Background: Obesity may be associated with an increase in asthma and atopy in children. If so, the effect could be due to an effect of obesity on lung volume and thus airway hyperresponsiveness.
Methods: Data from 5993 caucasian children aged 7–12 years from seven epidemiological studies performed in NSW were analysed. Subjects were included if data were available for height, weight, age, skin prick test results to a common panel of aeroallergens, and a measure of airway responsiveness. History of doctor diagnosed asthma, wheeze, cough, and medication use was obtained by questionnaire. Recent asthma was defined as a doctor diagnosis of asthma ever and wheeze in the last 12 months. Body mass index (BMI) percentiles, divided into quintiles per year age, were used as a measure of standardised weight. Dose response ratio (DRR) was used as a measure of airway responsiveness. Airway hyperresponsiveness was defined as a DRR of ⩾8.1. Adjusted odds ratios were obtained by logistic regression.
Results: After adjusting for atopy, sex, age, smoking and family history, BMI was a significant risk factor for wheeze ever (OR = 1.06, p = 0.007) and cough (OR = 1.08, p = 0.001), but not for recent asthma (OR = 1.02, p = 0.43) or airway hyperresponsiveness (OR = 0.97 p = 0.17). In girls a higher BMI was significantly associated with higher prevalence of atopy (χ2 trend 7.9, p = 0.005), wheeze ever (χ2 trend 10.4, p = 0.001), and cough (χ2 trend 12.3, p<0.001). These were not significant in boys.
Conclusions: Higher BMI is a risk factor for atopy, wheeze ever, and cough in girls only. Higher BMI is not a risk factor for asthma or airway hyperresponsiveness in either boys or girls.
PMCID: PMC1746556  PMID: 14645967
14.  Anti-inflammatory effects of the neurotransmitter agonist Honokiol in a mouse model of allergic asthma1 
Chronic airway inflammation is a hallmark of asthma, an immune-based disease with great societal impact. Honokiol (HNK), a phenolic neurotransmitter receptor (GABAA) agonist purified from magnolia, has anti-inflammatory properties, including stabilization of inflammation in experimentally-induced arthritis. The present study tested the prediction that HNK could inhibit the chronic inflammatory component of allergic asthma. C57Bl/6 mice sensitized to and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) had increased airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine challenge and eosinophilia compared to naïve controls. HNK-treated mice showed a reduction in airway hyperresponsiveness as well as a significant decrease in lung eosinophilia. Histopathology studies revealed a marked drop in lung inflammation, goblet cell hyperplasia, and collagen deposition with HNK treatment. Antigen recall responses from HNK-treated mice showed decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines in response to OVA, including TNF-α, IL-6, Th1, and Th17-type cytokines, despite an increase in Th2-type cytokines. Regulatory cytokines IL-10 and TGF-β were also increased. Assessment of lung homogenates revealed a similar pattern of cytokines, with a noted increase in the number of FoxP3+ cells in the lung. HNK was able to alter B- and T-lymphocyte cytokine secretion in a GABAA dependent manner. These results indicate that symptoms and pathology of asthma can be alleviated even in the presence of increased Th2 cytokines, and that neurotransmitter agonists such as HNK have promise as a novel class of antiinflammatory agents in the treatment of chronic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3197781  PMID: 20889543
Inflammation; mouse; cytokines; asthma
15.  Mast cells can promote the development of multiple features of chronic asthma in mice 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(6):1633-1641.
Bronchial asthma, the most prevalent cause of significant respiratory morbidity in the developed world, typically is a chronic disorder associated with long-term changes in the airways. We developed a mouse model of chronic asthma that results in markedly increased numbers of airway mast cells, enhanced airway responses to methacholine or antigen, chronic inflammation including infiltration with eosinophils and lymphocytes, airway epithelial goblet cell hyperplasia, enhanced expression of the mucin genes Muc5ac and Muc5b, and increased levels of lung collagen. Using mast cell–deficient (KitW-sh/W-sh and/or KitW/W-v) mice engrafted with FcRγ+/+ or FcRγ–/– mast cells, we found that mast cells were required for the full development of each of these features of the model. However, some features also were expressed, although usually at less than wild-type levels, in mice whose mast cells lacked FcRγ and therefore could not be activated by either antigen- and IgE-dependent aggregation of FcεRI or the binding of antigen-IgG1 immune complexes to FcγRIII. These findings demonstrate that mast cells can contribute to the development of multiple features of chronic asthma in mice and identify both FcRγ-dependent and FcRγ-independent pathways of mast cell activation as important for the expression of key features of this asthma model.
PMCID: PMC1462940  PMID: 16710480
16.  Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein Pglyrp1 Enhances Experimental Asthma by Promoting Th2 and Th17 and Limiting Regulatory T Cell and Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Responses 
Asthma is a common inflammatory disease involving crosstalk between innate and adaptive immunity. We reveal that antibacterial innate immunity protein, peptidoglycan recognition protein 1 (Pglyrp1), is involved in the development of allergic asthma. Pglyrp1−/− mice developed less severe asthma than wild type (WT) mice following sensitization with house dust mite (HDM) allergen. HDM-sensitized Pglyrp1−/− mice, compared with WT mice, had diminished: bronchial hyper-responsiveness (lung airway resistance); numbers of eosinophils, neutrophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lungs; inflammatory cell infiltrates in the lungs around bronchi, bronchioles, and pulmonary arteries and veins; lung remodeling (mucin-producing goblet cell hyperplasia and metaplasia and smooth muscle hypertrophy and fibrosis); levels of IgE, eotaxins, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-17 in the lungs; and numbers of Th2 and Th17 cells and expression of their marker genes in the lungs. The mechanism underlying this decreased sensitivity of Pglyrp1−/− mice to asthma was increased generation and activation of CD8α+β+ and CD8α+β− plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) and increased recruitment and activity of regulatory T (Treg) cells in the lungs. In vivo depletion of pDC in HDM-sensitized Pglyrp1−/− mice reversed the low responsive asthma phenotype of Pglyrp1−/− mice to resemble the more severe WT phenotype. Thus, Pglyrp1−/− mice efficiently control allergic asthma by up-regulating pDC and Treg cells in the lungs, whereas in WT mice Pglyrp1 is proinflammatory and decreases pDC and Treg, and increases pro-asthmatic Th2 and Th17 responses. Blocking Pglyrp1 or enhancing pDC in the lungs may be beneficial for prevention and treatment of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3608703  PMID: 23420883
17.  Differential effects of simvastatin on IL-13-induced cytokine gene expression in primary mouse tracheal epithelial cells 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):38.
Asthma causes significant morbidity worldwide in adults and children alike, and incurs large healthcare costs. The statin drugs, which treat hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular diseases, have pleiotropic effects beyond lowering cholesterol, including immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic properties which may benefit lung health. Using an allergic mouse model of asthma, we previously demonstrated a benefit of statins in reducing peribronchiolar eosinophilic inflammation, airway hyperreactivity, goblet cell hyperplasia, and lung IL-4 and IL-13 production.
In this study, we evaluated whether simvastatin inhibits IL-13-induced pro-inflammatory gene expression of asthma-related cytokines in well-differentiated primary mouse tracheal epithelial (MTE) cell cultures. We hypothesized that simvastatin reduces the expression of IL-13-inducible genes in MTE cells.
We harvested tracheal epithelial cells from naïve BALB/c mice, grew them under air-liquid interface (ALI) cell culture conditions, then assessed IL-13-induced gene expression in MTE cells using a quantitative real-time PCR mouse gene array kit.
We found that simvastatin had differential effects on IL-13-mediated gene expression (inhibited eotaxin-1; MCP-1,-2,-3; and osteopontin (SPP1), while it induced caspase-1 and CCL20 (MIP-3α)) in MTE cells. For other asthma-relevant genes such as TNF, IL-4, IL-10, CCL12 (MCP-5), CCL5 (RANTES), and CCR3, there were no significant IL-13-inducible or statin effects on gene expression.
Simvastatin modulates the gene expression of selected IL-13-inducible pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in primary mouse tracheal epithelial cells. The airway epithelium may be a viable target tissue for the statin drugs. Further research is needed to assess the mechanisms of how statins modulate epithelial gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3445818  PMID: 22583375
Statin; Asthma; Mevalonate pathway; Airway epithelium; HMG-CoA reductase; Cytokines; Chemokines; Gene expression; Mouse tracheal epithelium
18.  Asthma severity and atopy: how clear is the relationship? 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2006;91(5):405-409.
The relationship between asthma severity and atopy is complex. Many studies have failed to show significant relationships between clinical severity or lung function and markers of atopic sensitisation.
To determine whether increasing asthma severity is related to atopic sensitisation in a population of children with asthma.
A total of 400 children (7–18 years) with asthma were recruited as part of a multicentre study of the genetics of asthma. Detailed phenotypic data were collected on all participants. Associations between measures of asthma severity and atopic sensitisation were sought using multilevel models allowing variation at the individual and family level.
Children recruited to the study had a range of asthma severities, with just over a third having mild persistent asthma. The logarithm of total serum IgE was associated with increased asthma severity score, decreased FEV1, increased airways obstruction, risk of hospital admission, and inhaled steroid use. Increasing skin prick test reactivity to a panel of seven aeroallergens was associated with increased risk of hospital admission, use of an inhaled steroid, and airways obstruction. The results remained highly significant after corrections for age, gender, and birth order.
In children with asthma, increasing atopy is associated with increasing asthma severity. However, the relationships between asthma severity and skin prick tests, and asthma severity and total serum IgE values, appear subtly different.
PMCID: PMC2082729  PMID: 16443614
asthma; atopy; skin prick tests; lung function
19.  Heterogeneity of Severe Asthma in Childhood: Confirmation by Cluster Analysis of Children in the NIH/NHLBI Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) 
Asthma in children is a heterogeneous disorder with many phenotypes. Although unsupervised cluster analysis is a useful tool for identifying phenotypes, it has not been applied to school-age children with persistent asthma across a wide range of severities.
This study determined how children with severe asthma are distributed across a cluster analysis and how well these clusters conform to current definitions of asthma severity.
Cluster analysis was applied to 12 continuous and composite variables from 161 children at 5 centers enrolled in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP).
Four clusters of asthma were identified. Children in Cluster 1 (n = 48) had relatively normal lung function and less atopy, while children in Cluster 2 (n = 52) had slightly lower lung function, more atopy, and increased symptoms and medication usage. Cluster 3 (n = 32) had greater co-morbidity, increased bronchial responsiveness and lower lung function. Cluster 4 (n = 29) had the lowest lung function and the greatest symptoms and medication usage. Predictors of cluster assignment were asthma duration, the number of asthma controller medications, and baseline lung function. Children with severe asthma were present in all clusters, and no cluster corresponded to definitions of asthma severity provided in asthma treatment guidelines.
Severe asthma in children is highly heterogeneous. Unique phenotypic clusters previously identified in adults can also be identified in children, but with important differences. Larger validation and longitudinal studies are needed to determine the baseline and predictive validity of these phenotypic clusters in the larger clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC3060668  PMID: 21195471
Allergic sensitization; Asthma; Severe asthma; Asthma guidelines; Children; Cluster analysis; Lung function; Phenotype
20.  Genetic factors in childhood asthma. 
Thorax  1980;35(9):671-674.
The prevalences of asthma and atopy were examined in the families of 77 asthmatic and 87 control children attending a London general practice. The prevalence of asthma in first degree relatives of asthmatic children was found to be significantly higher than in relatives of control children, and this difference was more pronounced for relatives of atopic probands than for relatives of non-atopic probands. Among the relatives of asthmatics, atopic asthma was more common than non-atopic asthma, irrespective of the atopic status of the proband. However, among the relatives of control children, neither the prevalence of asthma nor the atopic status of the asthmatic relatives was influenced by the atopic status of the proband. These findings support the hypothesis that asthma and atopy are inherited independently. Although atopy itself does not predispose to asthma, it may enhance a genetic susceptibility to the condition, thus increasing the likelihood that the latter will be expressed.
PMCID: PMC471359  PMID: 7444840
21.  Murine Lung Responses to Ambient Particulate Matter: Genomic Analysis and Influence on Airway Hyperresponsiveness 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;116(11):1500-1508.
Asthma is a complex disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and chronic airway inflammation. Epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that exposures to environmental factors such as ambient particulate matter (PM), a major air pollutant, contribute to increased asthma prevalence and exacerbations.
We investigated pathophysiologic responses to Baltimore, Maryland, ambient PM (median diameter, 1.78 μm) in a murine model of asthma and attempted to identify PM-specific genomic/molecular signatures.
We exposed ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized A/J mice intratracheally to PM (20 mg/kg), and assayed both AHR and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) on days 1, 4, and 7 after PM exposure. Lung gene expression profiling was analyzed in OVA- and PM-challenged mice.
Consistent with this murine model of asthma, we observed significant increases in airway responsiveness in OVA-treated mice, with PM exposure inducing significant changes in AHR in both naive mice and OVA-induced asthmatic mice. PM evoked eosinophil and neutrophil infiltration into airways, elevated BAL protein content, and stimulated secretion of type 1 T helper (TH1) cytokines [interferon-γ, interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α] and TH2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, eotaxin) into murine airways. Furthermore, PM consistently induced expression of genes involved in innate immune responses, chemotaxis, and complement system pathways.
This study is consistent with emerging epidemiologic evidence and indicates that PM exposure evokes proinflammatory and allergic molecular signatures that may directly contribute to the asthma susceptibility in naive subjects and increased severity in affected asthmatics.
PMCID: PMC2592270  PMID: 19057703
airway hyperresponsiveness; asthma; intelectin; particulate matter; toxicogenomics
22.  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
23.  Prenatal Secondhand Cigarette Smoke Promotes Th2 polarization and impairs goblet cell differentiation and airway mucus formation 
Parental, particularly maternal, smoking increases the risk of childhood allergic asthma and infection. Similarly, in a murine allergic asthma model, prenatal plus early postnatal exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke (SS) exacerbates airway hyperreactivity and Th2 responses in the lung. However, the mechanism and contribution of prenatal versus early postnatal SS exposure on allergic asthma remains unresolved. To identify the effects of prenatal and/or early postnatal SS on allergic asthma, BALB/c dams and their offspring were exposed gestationally and/or 8–10 weeks post-birth to filtered air or SS. Prenatal, but not postnatal SS strongly increased methacholine and allergen (Aspergillus)-induced airway resistance, Th2-cytokines levels and atopy, and activated the Th2 polarizing pathway GATA3/Lck/ERK1/2/STAT6. Either prenatal and/or early postnatal SS downregulated the Th1-specific transcription factor T-bet and, surprisingly, in spite of high levels of IL-4/IL-13, dramatically blocked the allergen-induced mucous cell metaplasia, airway mucus formation, and the expression of mucus-related genes/proteins: Muc5ac, GABAA-receptors, and SPDEF. Given that SS/nicotine exposure of normal adult mice promotes mucus formation, the results suggest that fetal and neonatal lung are highly sensitive to cigarette smoke. Thus, while the gestational SS promotes Th2 polarization/allergic asthma, it may also impair and/or delay the development of fetal and neonatal lung, affecting mucociliary clearance and Th1 responses. Together, this may explain the increased susceptibility of children from smoking parents to allergic asthma and childhood respiratory infections.
PMCID: PMC3197944  PMID: 21930963
Environmental (secondhand) tobacco smoke; airways hyperreactivity; allergic asthma; Th2 polarization; airway mucus
24.  Increased Expression of RhoA in Epithelium and Smooth Muscle of Obese Mouse Models: Implications for Isoprenoid Control of Airway Smooth Muscle and Fibroblasts 
Journal of Allergy  2013;2013:740973.
The simultaneous rise in the prevalence of asthma and obesity has prompted epidemiologic studies that establish obesity as a risk factor for asthma. The alterations in cell signaling that explain this link are not well understood and warrant investigation so that therapies that target this asthma phenotype can be developed. We identified a significant increase in expression of the small GTPase RhoA in nasal epithelial cells and tracheal smooth muscle cells from leptin-deficient (ob/ob) mice compared to their wild-type counterparts. Since RhoA function is dependent on isoprenoid modification, we sought to determine the role of isoprenoid-mediated signaling in regulating the viability and proliferation of human airway smooth muscle cells (ASM) and normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF). Inhibiting isoprenoid signaling with mevastatin significantly decreased the viability of ASM and NHLF. This inhibition was reversed by geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), but not farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP), suggesting specificity to the Rho GTPases. Conversely, increasing isoprenoid synthesis significantly increased ASM proliferation and RhoA protein expression. RhoA expression is inherently increased in airway tissue from ob/ob mice, and obesity-entrained alterations in this pathway may make it a novel therapeutic target for treating airway disease in the obese population.
PMCID: PMC3693156  PMID: 23840226
25.  Genetic Variation in S-nitrosoglutathione Reductase (GSNOR) and Childhood Asthma 
S-nitrosothiols are potent endogenous bronchodilators depleted in asthmatic airway lining fluid. S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNOR, also known as ADH5 or FDH) catalyzes the metabolism of S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) and controls intracellular levels of S-nitrosothiols. GSNOR knockout mice have increased lung S-nitrosothiols and are therefore protected from airway hyperresponsiveness after methacholine or allergen challenge.
To investigate whether genetic variation in GSNOR is associated with childhood asthma and atopy.
We genotyped 5 tagging and two additional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in GSNOR, in 532 nuclear families consisting of asthmatic children aged 4 to 17 years and both parents in Mexico City. Atopy was determined by skin prick tests.
Carrying one or two copies of the minor allele of SNP rs1154404 was associated with decreased risk of asthma [relative risk (RR) = 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.61–0.97, P = 0.028 for one copy; RR = 0.66, 95% CI, 0.44–0.99, P = 0.046 for two copies]. Homozygosity for the minor allele of SNP rs28730619 was associated with increased risk of asthma (RR = 1.60, 95% CI, 1.13–2.26, P = 0.0077). Haplotype analyses supported the single SNP findings. GSNOR SNPs were not associated with the degree of atopy.
This is the first study of genetic polymorphisms in GSNOR and asthma. These data suggest that genetic variation in GSNOR may play a role in asthma susceptibility.
Clinical implications
The association of GSNOR polymorphisms with asthma suggests a potential therapeutic target.
Capsule Summary
Findings from this study suggest that genetic variation in S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNOR) may play a role in asthma susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC2094003  PMID: 17543375
alcohol dehydrogenase 5 (ADH5); allergy; asthma; formaldehyde dehydrogenase (FDH); genetic predisposition to disease; nitric oxide (NO); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO); S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNOR); S-nitrosothiol (SNO)

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