Background and Objective
Asthma is associated with airway narrowing in response to bronchoconstricting stimuli and increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. In addition, some studies have suggested impaired β-agonist induced ASM relaxation in asthmatics, but the mechanism is not known.
To characterize the potential defect in β-agonist induced cAMP in ASM derived from asthmatic in comparison to non-asthmatic subjects and to investigate its mechanism.
We examined β2-adrenergic (β2AR) receptor expression and basal β-agonist and forskolin (direct activator of adenylyl cyclase) stimulated cAMP production in asthmatic cultured ASM (n = 15) and non-asthmatic ASM (n = 22). Based on these results, PDE activity, PDE4D expression and cell proliferation were determined.
In the presence of IBMX, a pan PDE inhibitor, asthmatic ASM had ∼50% lower cAMP production in response to isoproterenol, albuterol, formoterol, and forskolin compared to non-asthmatic ASM. However when PDE4 was specifically inhibited, cAMP production by the agonists and forskolin was normalized in asthmatic ASM. We then measured the amount and activity of PDE4, and found ∼2-fold greater expression and activity in asthmatic ASM compared to non-asthmatic ASM. Furthermore, inhibition of PDE4 reduced asthmatic ASM proliferation but not that of non-asthmatic ASM.
Decreased β-agonist induced cAMP in ASM from asthmatics results from enhanced degradation due to increased PDE4D expression. Clinical manifestations of this dysregulation would be suboptimal β-agonist-mediated bronchodilation and possibly reduced control over increasing ASM mass. These phenotypes appear to be “hard-wired” into ASM from asthmatics, as they do not require an inflammatory environment in culture to be observed.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lung airways that is associated with airway remodeling and hyperresponsiveness. Its is well documented that the smooth muscle mass in asthmatic airways is increased due to hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the ASM cells. Moreover, eosinophils have been proposed in different studies to play a major role in airway remodeling. Here, we hypothesized that eosinophils modulate the airways through enhancing ASM cell proliferation. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of eosinophils on ASM cell proliferation using eosinophils isolated from asthmatic and normal control subjects.
Eosinophils were isolated from peripheral blood of 6 mild asthmatics and 6 normal control subjects. ASM cells were incubated with eosinophils or eosinophil membranes and ASM proliferation was estimated using thymidine incorporation. The mRNA expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) in ASM cells was measured using quantitative real-time PCR. The effect of eosinophil-derived proliferative cytokines on ASM cells was determined using neutralizing antibodies. The role of eosinophil derived Cysteinyl Leukotrienes in enhancing ASM was also investigated.
Co-culture with eosinophils significantly increased ASM cell proliferation. However, there was no significant difference in ASM proliferation following incubation with eosinophils from asthmatic versus normal control subjects. Co-culture with eosinophil membranes had no effect on ASM proliferation. Moreover, there was no significant change in the mRNA expression of ECM proteins in ASM cells following co-culture with eosinophils when compared with medium alone. Interestingly, blocking the activity of cysteinyl Leukotries using antagonists inhibited eosinophil-derived ASM proliferation.
Eosinophils enhances the proliferation of ASM cells. This role of eosinophil does not seem to depend on ASM derived ECM proteins nor on Eosinophil derived TGF-β or TNF-α. Eosinophil seems to induce ASM proliferation via the secretion of Cysteinyl Leukotrienes.
Severe asthma is associated with fixed airway obstruction attributable to inflammation, copious luminal mucus, and increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. Paradoxically, studies demonstrated that the hypertrophic and hyperplastic ASM characteristic of severe asthma has reduced contractile capacity. We compared the G-protein–coupled receptor (GPCR)–induced Ca2+ mobilization and expression of GPCRs and signaling proteins related to procontractile signaling in ASM derived postmortem from subjects who died of nonrespiratory causes, with cells from subjects who died of asthma. Despite the increased or comparable expression of contraction-promoting GPCRs (bradykinin B2 or histamine H1 and protease-activated receptor 1, respectively) in asthmatic ASM cells relative to cells from healthy donors, asthmatic ASM cells exhibited reduced histamine-induced Ca2+ mobilization and comparable responses to bradykinin and thrombin, suggesting a postreceptor signaling defect. Accordingly, the expression of regulator of G-protein signaling–5 (RGS5), an inhibitor of ASM contraction, was increased in cultured, asthmatic ASM cells and in bronchial smooth muscle bundles of both human subjects with asthma and allergen-challenged mice, relative to those of healthy human subjects or naive mice. The overexpression of RGS5 impaired the release of Ca2+ to thrombin, histamine, and carbachol, and reduced the contraction of precision-cut lung slices to carbachol. These results suggest that increased RGS5 expression contributes to decreased myocyte shortening in severe and fatal asthma.
asthma; bronchial smooth muscle; signal transduction; G-protein–coupled receptors
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) contraction underlies acute bronchospasm in asthma. ASM cells can switch between a synthetic-proliferative phenotype and a contractile phenotype. While the effects of extracellular matrix (ECM) components on modulation of ASM cells to a synthetic phenotype have been reported, the role of ECM components on maturation of ASM cells to a contractile phenotype in adult lung is unclear. As both changes in ECM components and accumulation of contractile ASM are features of airway wall remodelling in asthma, we examined the role of the ECM protein, laminin, in the maturation of contractile phenotype in human ASM cells.
Human ASM cells were made senescence-resistant by stable expression of human telomerase reverse transcriptase. Maturation to a contractile phenotype was induced by 7-day serum deprivation, as assessed by immunoblotting for desmin and calponin. The role of laminin on ASM maturation was investigated by comparing the effects of exogenous laminin coated on culture plates, and of soluble laminin peptide competitors. Endogenous expression of laminin chains during ASM maturation was also measured.
Myocyte binding to endogenously expressed laminin was required for ASM phenotype maturation, as laminin competing peptides (YIGSR or GRGDSP) significantly reduced desmin and calponin protein accumulation that otherwise occurs with prolonged serum deprivation. Coating of plastic cell culture dishes with different purified laminin preparations was not sufficient to further promote accumulation of desmin or calponin during 7-day serum deprivation. Expression of α2, β1 and γ1 laminin chains by ASM cells was specifically up-regulated during myocyte maturation, suggesting a key role for laminin-2 in the development of the contractile phenotype.
While earlier reports suggest exogenously applied laminin slows the spontaneous modulation of ASM to a synthetic phenotype, we show for the first time that endogenously expressed laminin is required for ASM maturation to the contractile phenotype. As endogenously expressed laminin chains α2, β1 and γ1 are uniquely increased during myocyte maturation, these laminin chains may be key in this process. Thus, human ASM maturation appears to involve regulated endogenous expression of a select set of laminin chains that are essential for accumulation of contractile phenotype myocytes.
Mast cell microlocalisation within the airway smooth muscle (ASM) bundle is an important determinant of the asthmatic phenotype. We hypothesised that mast cells migrate towards ASM in response to ASM derived chemokines.
Primary ASM cultures from subjects with and without asthma were stimulated with interleukin (IL)‐1β, IL‐4, and IL‐13 alone and in combination. Mast cell chemotaxis towards these ASM supernatants was investigated, and the chemotaxins mediating migration by using specific blocking antibodies for stem cell factor (SCF) and the chemokine receptors CCR3, CXCR1, 3 and 4 as well as the Gi inhibitor pertussis toxin and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein were defined. The concentrations of CCL11, CXCL8, CXCL10, TGF‐β, and SCF in the supernatants were measured and the effect of non‐asthmatic ASM supernatants on the mast cell chemotactic activity of asthmatic ASM was examined.
Human lung mast cells and HMC‐1 cells migrated towards Th2 stimulated ASM from asthmatics but not non‐asthmatics. Mast cell migration was mediated through the combined activation of CCR3 and CXCR1. CCL11 and CXCL8 expression by ASM increased markedly after stimulation, but was similar in those with and without asthma. ASM supernatants from non‐asthmatics inhibited mast cell migration towards the asthmatic ASM supernatant.
Th2 stimulated ASM from asthmatics is chemotactic for mast cells. Non‐asthmatic ASM releases a mediator or mediators that inhibit mast cell migration towards stimulated asthmatic ASM. Specifically targeting mast cell migration into the ASM bundle may provide a novel treatment for asthma.
mast cells; chemokine receptors; chemokines; airway smooth muscle; asthma
Leukotriene B4 (LTB4) increases in induced sputum and exhaled breath condensate in people with asthma. Furthermore, the TH2-type immune response and airway hyperresponsiveness induced by ovalbumin sensitization is markedly suppressed in LTB4 receptor (BLT) 1 null mice. These studies suggest that LTB4 may contribute to asthma pathophysiology. However, the direct effects of LTB4 on human airway smooth muscle (ASM) have not been studied.
We sought to determine the expression of LTB4 receptors on human ASM and its functional role in mediating responses of human ASM cells, and the effect of LTB4 on these cells.
Immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR, Western blotting, and flow cytometry were used to determine the expression of LTB4 receptors. To determine the effect of LTB4 on human ASM cells, cell proliferation was assessed by counting cells, and chemokinesis was assessed by gold particle phagokinesis assay.
We confirmed expression of both BLT1 and BLT2 in human ASM cells in bronchial tissue and in cell culture. LTB4 markedly induced cyclin D1 expression, proliferation, and chemokinesis of human ASM cells. LTB4 also induced phosphorylation of both p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and downstream PI3 kinase effector, Akt1. However, we observed no induction of c-Jun N-terminal kinase or p38 MAPK. Notably, LTB4-induced migration and proliferation of ASM cells were inhibited by the BLT1 specific antagonist, U75302, and by inhibitors of p42/p44 MAPK phosphorylation (U1026), and PI3 kinase (LY294002).
These observations are the first to suggest a role for a LTB4-BLT1 signaling axis in ASM responses that may contribute to the pathogenesis of airway remodeling in asthma.
Asthma; airway remodeling; airway smooth muscle cells; LTB4; BLT
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) hyperplasia is a characteristic feature of the asthmatic airway but the underlying mechanisms that induce ASM hyperplasia remain unknown. Because transforming growth factor (TGF)-β is a potent regulator of ASM cell proliferation, we determined its expression and mitogenic signaling pathways in ASM cells. We obtained ASM cells by laser capture microdissection of bronchial biopsies and found that ASM cells from asthmatic patients expressed TGF-β1 mRNA and protein to a greater extent than non-asthmatic individuals using real-time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, respectively. TGF-β1 stimulated the growth of non-confluent and confluent ASM cells either in the presence or absence of serum in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. The mitogenic activity of TGF-β1 on ASM cells was inhibited by selective inhibitors of TGF-β receptor-I kinase (SD-208), of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K, LY294002), ERK (PD98059), JNK (SP600125) and NF-κB (AS602868). On the other hand, p38 MAPK inhibitor (SB203580) augmented TGF-β1-induced proliferation. To study role of the Smads, we transduced ASM cells with an adenovirus vector expressing Smad 4, Smad 7 or negative dominant Smad3 and found no involvement of these Smads in TGF-β1-induced proliferation. Dexamethasone caused a dose-dependent inhibition in TGF-β1-induced proliferation. Our findings suggest that TGF-β1 may act in an autocrine fashion to induce ASM hyperplasia, mediated by its receptor and several kinases including PI3K, ERK and JNK, while p38 MAPK is a negative regulator. NF-κB is also involved in the TGF-β1 mitogenic signaling but Smad pathway does not appear important.
Laser capture microdissection; TGF-β1 expression; airway smooth muscle cells; asthma; corticosteroids
An important interplay exists between specific viral respiratory infections and altered airway responsiveness in the development and exacerbations of asthma. However, the mechanistic basis of this interplay remains to be identified. This study addressed the hypothesis that rhinovirus (RV), the most common viral respiratory pathogen associated with acute asthma attacks, directly affects airway smooth muscle (ASM) to produce proasthmatic changes in receptor-coupled ASM responsiveness. Isolated rabbit and human ASM tissue and cultured ASM cells were inoculated with human RV (serotype 16) or adenovirus, each for 6 or 24 h. In contrast to adenovirus, which had no effect, inoculation of ASM tissue with RV induced heightened ASM tissue constrictor responsiveness to acetylcholine and attenuated the dose-dependent relaxation of ASM to beta-adrenoceptor stimulation with isoproterenol. These RV-induced changes in ASM responsiveness were largely prevented by pretreating the tissues with pertussis toxin or with a monoclonal blocking antibody to intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), the principal endogenous receptor for most RVs. In extended studies, we found that the RV-induced changes in ASM responsiveness were associated with diminished cAMP accumulation in response to dose-dependent administration of isoproterenol, and this effect was accompanied by autologously upregulated expression of the Gi protein subtype, Gialpha3, in the ASM. Finally, in separate experiments, we found that the RV-induced effects on ASM responsiveness were also accompanied by autologously induced upregulated mRNA and cell surface protein expression of ICAM-1. Taken together, these findings provide new evidence that RV directly induces proasthmatic phenotypic changes in ASM responsiveness, that this effect is triggered by binding of RV to its ICAM-1 receptor in ASM, and that this binding is associated with the induced endogenously upregulated expression of ICAM-1 and enhanced expression and activation of Gi protein in the RV-infected ASM.
Airway remodelling describes the histopathological changes leading to fixed airway obstruction in patients with asthma and includes extra-cellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) is present in remodelled airways but its relationship with ECM proteins and the resulting functional consequences are unknown. We used airway smooth muscle cells (ASM) and bronchial biopsies from control donors and patients with asthma to examine the regulation of MMP-1 by ECM in ASM cells and the effect of MMP-1 on ASM contraction. Collagen-I and tenascin-C induced MMP-1 protein expression, which for tenascin-C, was greater in asthma derived ASM cells. Tenascin-C induced MMP-1 expression was dependent on ERK1/2, JNK and p38 MAPK activation and attenuated by function blocking antibodies against the β1 and β3 integrin subunits. Tenascin-C and MMP-1 were not expressed in normal airways but co-localised in the ASM bundles and reticular basement membrane of patients with asthma. Further, ECM from asthma derived ASM cells stimulated MMP-1 expression to a greater degree than ECM from normal ASM. Bradykinin induced contraction of ASM cells seeded in 3D collagen gels was reduced by the MMP inhibitor ilomastat and by siRNA knockdown of MMP-1. In summary, the induction of MMP-1 in ASM cells by tenascin-C occurs in part via integrin mediated MAPK signalling. MMP-1 and tenascin-C are co-localised in the smooth muscle bundles of patients with asthma where this interaction may contribute to enhanced airway contraction. Our findings suggest that ECM changes in airway remodelling via MMP-1 could contribute to an environment promoting greater airway narrowing in response to broncho-constrictor stimuli and worsening asthma symptoms.
T-helper type 2 (Th2) cytokines have been implicated in the pathogenesis of the pulmonary inflammatory response and altered bronchial responsiveness in allergic asthma. To elucidate the mechanism of Th2-dependent mediation of altered airway responsiveness in the atopic asthmatic state, the expression and actions of specific cytokines were examined in isolated rabbit and human airway smooth muscle (ASM) tissues and cultured cells passively sensitized with sera from atopic asthmatic patients or nonatopic/nonasthmatic (control) subjects. Relative to control tissues, the atopic asthmatic sensitized ASM exhibited significantly enhanced maximal isometric contractility to acetylcholine and attenuated relaxation responses to isoproterenol. These proasthmatic changes in agonist responsiveness were ablated by pretreating the atopic sensitized tissues with either an IL-5 receptor blocking antibody (IL-5ra) or the human recombinant IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), whereas an IL-4 neutralizing antibody had no effect. Moreover, relative to controls, atopic asthmatic sensitized ASM cells demonstrated an initial, early (after 3 hours of incubation) increased mRNA expression and protein release of IL-5. This was followed (after 6 hours of incubation) by an enhanced mRNA expression and release of IL-1β protein, an effect that was inhibited in sensitized cells pretreated with IL-5ra. Extended studies demonstrated that naive ASM exposed to exogenously administered IL-5 exhibited an induced upregulated mRNA expression and protein release of IL-1β associated with proasthmatic-like changes in ASM constrictor and relaxant responsiveness, and that these effects were ablated in tissues pretreated with IL-1ra. Taken together, these observations provide new evidence that (a) the Th2 cytokine IL-5 and the pleiotropic proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β are endogenously released by atopic asthmatic sensitized ASM and mechanistically interact to mediate the proasthmatic perturbations in ASM responsiveness; and (b) the nature of this interaction is given by an initial endogenous release of IL-5, which then acts to induce the autologous release of IL-1β by the sensitized ASM itself, resulting in its autocrine manifestation of the proasthmatic phenotype.
Obesity is a major risk factor for asthma and it influences airway smooth muscle function and responsiveness. Adiponectin is inversely associated with obesity and its action is mediated through at least 2 cell membrane receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2). Leptin is positively associated with obesity. We investigated whether human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells express adiponectin receptors and whether adiponectin and leptin regulate human ASM cell proliferation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) release.
Materials and Methods
Human ASM cells were growth-arrested in serum-deprived medium for 48 hours and then stimulated with PDGF, adiponectin and leptin. After 48 hours of stimulation, proliferation was determined using a cell proliferation ELISA kit. Human AdipoR1 and -R2 mRNA expressions were determined by RT-PCR using human-specific AdipoR1 and -R2 primers. Concentrations of VEGF, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α in cell culture supernatant were determined by ELISA.
Both AdipoR1 and AdipoR2
mRNA were expressed in the cultured human ASM cells. However, adiponectin did not suppress PDGF-enhanced ASM cell proliferation, nor did leptin promote ASM cell proliferation. Leptin promoted VEGF release by human ASM cells, while adiponectin did not influence VEGF release. Neither leptin nor adiponectin influenced MCP-1 secretion from human ASM cells. Adiponectin and MIP-1α were not secreted by human ASM cells.
Human ASM cells expressed
adiponectin receptors. However, adiponectin did not regulate human ASM cell proliferation or VEGF release, while leptin stimulated VEGF release by human ASM cells.
Smooth muscle cells; cell proliferation; vascular endothelial growth factor; leptin; adiponectin; receptors
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) hyperplasia is a hallmark of asthma that is associated with disease severity and persistent airflow obstruction.
We sought to investigate whether fibrocytes, a population of peripheral blood mesenchymal progenitors, are recruited to the ASM compartment in asthma.
We assessed the number of fibrocytes in bronchial biopsy specimens and peripheral blood from subjects with mild-to-severe refractory asthma versus healthy control subjects. In vitro we investigated potential mechanisms controlling fibrocyte migration toward the ASM bundle.
Fifty-one subjects with asthma and 33 control subjects were studied. In bronchial biopsy specimens, the number of fibrocytes was increased in the lamina propria of subjects with severe refractory asthma (median [interquartile range] number, 1.9/mm2 [1.7/mm2]) versus healthy control subjects (median [interquartile range] number, 0/mm2 [0.3/mm2], P < .0001) and in the ASM bundle of subjects with asthma of all severities (subjects with severe asthma, median [interquartile range] number, 3.8/mm2 [9.4/mm2]; subjects with mild-to-moderate asthma, median [interquartile range] number, 1.1/mm2 [2.4/mm2]); healthy control subjects, (median [interquartile range] number, 0/mm2 [0/mm2]); P = .0004). In the peripheral blood the fibrocyte number was also increased in subjects with severe refractory asthma (median [interquartile range] number, 1.4 × 104/mL [2.6 × 104/mL]) versus healthy control subjects (median [interquartile range] number, 0.4 × 104/mL [1.0 × 104/mL], P = .002). We identified that in vitro ASM promotes fibrocyte chemotaxis and chemokinesis (distance of migration after 4.5 hours, 31 μm [2.9 μm] vs 17 μm [2.4 μm], P = .0001), which was in part mediated by platelet-derived growth factor (mean inhibition by neutralizing antibody, 16% [95% CI, 2% to 32%], P = .03) but not by activation of chemokine receptors.
This study provides the first evidence that fibrocytes are present in the ASM compartment in asthma and that ASM can augment fibrocyte migration. The importance of fibrocytes in the development of ASM hyperplasia and airway dysfunction in asthma remains to be determined.
Asthma; airway smooth muscle; remodeling; mast cells
Fibroproliferative airway remodelling, including increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and contractility, contributes to airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. In vitro studies have shown that maturation of ASM cells to a (hyper)contractile phenotype is dependent on laminin, which can be inhibited by the laminin-competing peptide Tyr-Ile-Gly-Ser-Arg (YIGSR). The role of laminins in ASM remodelling in chronic asthma in vivo, however, has not yet been established.
Using an established guinea pig model of allergic asthma, we investigated the effects of topical treatment of the airways with YIGSR on features of airway remodelling induced by repeated allergen challenge, including ASM hyperplasia and hypercontractility, inflammation and fibrosis. Human ASM cells were used to investigate the direct effects of YIGSR on ASM proliferation in vitro.
Topical administration of YIGSR attenuated allergen-induced ASM hyperplasia and pulmonary expression of the proliferative marker proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). Treatment with YIGSR also increased both the expression of sm-MHC and ASM contractility in saline- and allergen-challenged animals; this suggests that treatment with the laminin-competing peptide YIGSR mimics rather than inhibits laminin function in vivo. In addition, treatment with YIGSR increased allergen-induced fibrosis and submucosal eosinophilia. Immobilized YIGSR concentration-dependently reduced PDGF-induced proliferation of cultured ASM to a similar extent as laminin-coated culture plates. Notably, the effects of both immobilized YIGSR and laminin were antagonized by soluble YIGSR.
These results indicate that the laminin-competing peptide YIGSR promotes a contractile, hypoproliferative ASM phenotype in vivo, an effect that appears to be linked to the microenvironment in which the cells are exposed to the peptide.
Increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass is a feature of asthmatic airways, and could result from augmented proliferation. We determined whether proliferation and IL-6 release are abnormal in ASM cells (ASMCs) from patients with severe asthma, and whether these features could be mediated by microRNA-221 and microRNA-222, through modulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21WAF1 and p27kip1. ASMCs cultured from bronchial biopsies of healthy subjects and patients with nonsevere or severe asthma were studied. Proliferation was measured by the incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine and IL-6 by ELISA. FCS and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β caused greater proliferation and IL-6 release in patients with severe compared with nonsevere asthma and normal subjects. FCS + TGF-β inhibited p21WAF1 and p27kip1 expression, and increased microRNA-221 (miR-221) expression in ASMCs from individuals with severe asthma. miR-221, and not miR-222, mimics the increased proliferation and IL-6 release induced by FCS + TGF in healthy ASM, whereas in patients with severe asthma, the inhibition of miR-221, but not miR-222, inhibited proliferation and IL-6 release. miR-221 inhibition led to the increased expression of FCS + TGF-β–induced p21WAF1 and p27kip1. Dexamethasone suppressed proliferation in healthy subjects, but not in subjects with asthma. IL-6 was less suppressible by dexamethasone in patients with nonsevere and severe asthma, compared with healthy subjects. miR-221 did not influence the effects of dexamethasone. ASM from patients with severe asthma shows greater proliferation and IL-6 release than in patients with nonsevere asthma, but both groups show corticosteroid insensitivity. miR-221 regulates p21WAF1 and p27kip1 expression levels. Furthermore, miR-221 regulates the hyperproliferation and IL-6 release of ASMCs from patients with severe asthma, but does not regulate corticosteroid insensitivity.
microRNA; ASM; proliferation; IL-6; steroid insensitivity
CD4+ T helper (TH)1- and TH2-type cytokines reportedly play an important role in the pathobiology of asthma. Recent evidence suggests that proasthmatic changes in airway smooth muscle (ASM) responsiveness may be induced by the autocrine release of certain proinflammatory cytokines by the ASM itself. We examined whether TH1- and TH2-type cytokines are expressed by atopic asthmatic sensitized ASM and serve to autologously regulate the proasthmatic phenotype in the sensitized ASM. Expression of these cytokines and their receptors was examined in isolated rabbit and human ASM tissues and cultured cells passively sensitized with sera from atopic asthmatic patients or control subjects. Relative to controls, atopic sensitized ASM cells exhibited an early increased mRNA expression of the TH2-type cytokines, interleukin-5 (IL-5) and granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and their receptors. This was later followed by enhanced mRNA expression of the TH1-type cytokines, IL-2, IL-12, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ), as well as their respective receptors. In experiments on isolated ASM tissue segments (a) exogenous administration of IL-2 and IFN-γ to atopic asthmatic serum–sensitized ASM ablated both their enhanced constrictor responsiveness to acetylcholine (ACh) and their attenuated relaxation responsiveness to β-adrenoceptor stimulation with isoproterenol, and (b) administration of IL-5 and GM-CSF to naive ASM induced significant increases in their contractility to ACh and impaired their relaxant responsiveness to isoproterenol. Collectively, these observations provide new evidence demonstrating that human ASM endogenously expresses both TH1- and TH2-type cytokines and their receptors, that these molecules are sequentially upregulated in the atopic asthmatic sensitized state, and that they act to downregulate and upregulate proasthmatic perturbations in ASM responsiveness, respectively.
The cell-surface protein CD38 mediates airway smooth muscle (ASM) contractility by generating cyclic ADP-ribose, a calcium-mobilizing molecule. In human ASM cells, TNF-α augments CD38 expression transcriptionally by NF-κB and AP-1 activation and involving MAPK and PI3K signaling. CD38−/− mice develop attenuated airway hyperresponsiveness following allergen or cytokine challenge. The post-transcriptional regulation of CD38 expression in ASM is relatively less understood. In ASM, microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate inflammation, contractility, and hyperproliferation. The 3’ Untranslated Region (3’UTR) of CD38 has multiple miRNA binding sites, including a site for miR-708. MiR-708 is known to regulate PI3K/AKT signaling and hyperproliferation of other cell types. We investigated miR-708 expression, its regulation of CD38 expression and the underlying mechanisms involved in such regulation in human ASM cells.
Growth-arrested human ASM cells from asthmatic and non-asthmatic donors were used. MiRNA and mRNA expression were measured by quantitative real-time PCR. CD38 enzymatic activity was measured by a reverse cyclase assay. Total and phosphorylated MAPKs and PI3K/AKT as well as enzymes that regulate their activation were determined by Western blot analysis of cell lysates following miRNA transfection and TNF-α stimulation. Dual luciferase reporter assays were performed to determine whether miR-708 binds directly to CD38 3’UTR to alter gene expression.
Using target prediction algorithms, we identified several miRNAs with potential CD38 3’UTR target sites and determined miR-708 as a potential candidate for regulation of CD38 expression based on its expression and regulation by TNF-α. TNF-α caused a decrease in miR-708 expression in cells from non-asthmatics while it increased its expression in cells from asthmatics. Dual luciferase reporter assays in NIH-3 T3 cells revealed regulation of expression by direct binding of miR-708 to CD38 3’UTR. In ASM cells, miR-708 decreased CD38 expression by decreasing phosphorylation of JNK MAPK and AKT. These effects were associated with increased expression of MKP-1, a MAP kinase phosphatase and PTEN, a phosphatase that terminates PI3 kinase signaling.
In human ASM cells, TNF-α-induced CD38 expression is regulated by miR-708 directly binding to 3’UTR and indirectly by regulating JNK MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling and has the potential to control airway inflammation, ASM contractility and proliferation.
MicroRNA; MiR-708; Airway smooth muscle cells; MAP kinase; PI3 kinase; PTEN; AKT; CD38
Identifying the factors responsible for relative glucocorticosteroid (GC) resistance present in patients with severe asthma and finding tools to reverse it are of paramount importance. In asthma there is in vivo evidence of GC-resistant pathways in airway smooth muscle (ASM) bundles which can be modelled in vitro by exposing cultured ASM cells to TNFα/IFNγ. This drives GC insensitivity via protein phosphatase-5 (PP5)-dependent impairment of GC receptor (GR) phosphorylation. Here, we investigated whether KCa3.1 ion channels modulate the activity of GC-resistant pathways using our ASM model of GC insensitivity. Immunohistochemical staining of endobronchial biopsies revealed that KCa3.1 channels are localized to the plasma membrane and nucleus of ASM in both healthy controls and asthmatic patients, irrespective of disease severity. Western blot assays and immunofluorescence staining confirmed the nuclear localisation of KCa3.1 channels in ASM cells. The functional importance of KCa3.1 channels in the regulation of GC-resistant chemokines induced by TNFα/IFNγ was assessed using complementary inhibitory strategies including KCa3.1 blockers (TRAM-34 and ICA-17043) or KCa3.1-specific shRNA delivered by adenoviruses. KCa3.1 channel blockade led to a significant reduction of fluticasone-resistant CX3CL1, CCL5 and CCL11 gene and protein expression. KCa3.1 channel blockade also restored fluticasone-induced GRα phosphorylation at ser211 and transactivation properties via the suppression of cytokine-induced PP5 expression. The effect of KCa3.1 blockade was evident in ASM cells from both healthy controls and asthmatic subjects. In summary KCa3.1 channels contribute to the regulation of GC-resistant inflammatory pathways in ASM cells: blocking KCa3.1 channels may enhance corticosteroid activity in severe asthma.
Corticosteroid insensitivity; chemokines; GR phosphorylation; TNFα; transactivation; transrepression; KCa3.1; severe asthma; airway smooth muscle; transcription factors
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) hyperplasia and mast cell localization within the ASM bundle are important features of asthma. The cause of this increased ASM mass is uncertain and whether it is a consequence of ASM–mast cell interactions is unknown.
We sought to investigate ASM proliferation and survival in asthma and the effects of co-culture with mast cells.
Primary ASM cultures were derived from 11 subjects with asthma and 12 non-asthmatic controls. ASM cells were cultured for up to 10 days in the presence or absence of serum either alone or in co-culture with the human mast cell line-1, unstimulated human lung mast cells (HLMC) or IgE/anti-IgE-activated HLMC. Proliferation was assessed by cell counts, CFSE assay and thymidine incorporation. Apoptosis and necrosis were analysed by Annexin V/propidium iodide staining using flow cytometry and by assessment of nuclear morphology using immunofluorescence. Mast cell activation was confirmed by the measurement of histamine release.
Using a number of techniques, we found that ASM proliferation and survival was not significantly different between cells derived from subjects with or without asthma. Co-culture with mast cells did not affect the rate of proliferation or survival of ASM cells.
Our findings do not support a role for increased airway smooth proliferation and survival as the major mechanism driving ASM hyperplasia in asthma.
Cite this as: D. Kaur, F. Hollins, R. Saunders, L. Woodman, A. Sutcliffe, G. Cruse, P. Bradding and C. Brightling, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 279– 288.
airway smooth muscle; apoptosis; asthma; mast cells; necrosis; proliferation; survival
Breathing (especially deep breathing) antagonizes development and persistence of airflow obstruction during bronchoconstrictor stimulation. Force fluctuations imposed on contracted airway smooth muscle (ASM) in vitro result in its relengthening, a phenomenon called force fluctuation-induced relengthening (FFIR). Because breathing imposes similar force fluctuations on contracted ASM within intact lungs, FFIR represents a likely mechanism by which breathing antagonizes bronchoconstriction. While this bronchoprotective effect appears to be impaired in asthma, corticosteroid treatment can restore the ability of deep breaths to reverse artificially induced bronchoconstriction in asthmatic subjects. We previously demonstrated that FFIR is physiologically regulated through the p38 MAPK signaling pathway. While the beneficial effects of corticosteroids have been attributed to suppression of airway inflammation, we hypothesized that alternatively they might exert their action directly on ASM by augmenting FFIR as a result of inhibiting p38 MAPK signaling.
We tested this possibility in the present study by measuring relengthening in contracted canine tracheal smooth muscle (TSM) strips.
Our results indicate that dexamethasone treatment significantly augmented FFIR of contracted canine TSM. Canine tracheal ASM cells treated with dexamethasone demonstrated increased MAP kinase phosphatase (MKP)-1 expression and decreased p38 MAPK activity, as reflected in reduced phosphorylation of the p38 MAPK downstream target, HSP27.
These results suggest that corticosteroids may exert part of their therapeutic effect through direct action on ASM, by decreasing p38 MAPK activity and thus increasing FFIR.
asthma; bronchoprotection; bronchoconstriction; deep breaths; steroids; tidal breathing
Asthma is characterized by variable airflow obstruction, airway inflammation, airway hyper-responsiveness and airway remodelling. Airway smooth muscle (ASM) hyperplasia is a feature of airway remodelling and contributes to bronchial wall thickening. We sought to investigate the expression levels of chemokines in primary cultures of ASM cells from asthmatics vs healthy controls and to assess whether differentially expressed chemokines (i) promote fibrocyte (FC) migration towards ASM and (ii) are increased in blood from subjects with asthma and in sputum samples from those asthmatics with bronchial wall thickening.
Chemokine concentrations released by primary ASM were measured by MesoScale Discovery platform. The chemokine most highly expressed by ASM from asthmatics compared with healthy controls was confirmed by ELISA, and expression of its cognate chemokine receptor by FCs was examined by immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. The role of this chemokine in FC migration towards ASM was investigated by chemotaxis assays.
Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) levels were increased in primary ASM supernatants from asthmatics compared with healthy controls. CCR2 was expressed on FCs. Fibrocytes migrated towards recombinant CCL2 and ASM supernatants. These effects were inhibited by CCL2 neutralization. CCL2 levels were increased in blood from asthmatics compared with healthy controls, and sputum CCL2 was increased in asthmatics with bronchial wall thickening.
Airway smooth muscle-derived CCL2 mediates FC migration and potentially contributes to the development of ASM hyperplasia in asthma.
airway smooth muscle; asthma; chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2; chemotaxis; fibrocyte
Many cystic fibrosis (CF) patients display airway hyperresponsiveness and have symptoms of asthma such as cough, wheezing and reversible airway obstruction. Chronic airway bacterial colonization, associated with neutrophilic inflammation and high levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8) is also a common occurrence in these patients. The aim of this work was to determine the responsiveness of airway smooth muscle to IL-8 in CF patients compared to non-CF individuals.
Experiments were conducted on cultured ASM cells harvested from subjects with and without CF (control subjects). Cells from the 2nd to 5th passage were studied. Expression of the IL-8 receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 was assessed by flow cytometry. The cell response to IL-8 was determined by measuring intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), cell contraction, migration and proliferation.
The IL-8 receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 were expressed in both non-CF and CF ASM cells to a comparable extent. IL-8 (100 nM) induced a peak Ca2+ release that was higher in control than in CF cells: 228 ± 7 versus 198 ± 10 nM (p < 0.05). IL-8 induced contraction was greater in CF cells compared to control. Furthermore, IL-8 exposure resulted in greater phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC20) in CF than in control cells. In addition, MLC20 expression was also increased in CF cells. Exposure to IL-8 induced migration and proliferation of both groups of ASM cells but was not different between CF and non-CF cells.
ASM cells of CF patients are more contractile to IL-8 than non-CF ASM cells. This enhanced contractility may be due to an increase in the amount of contractile protein MLC20. Higher expression of MLC20 by CF cells could contribute to airway hyperresponsiveness to IL-8 in CF patients.
Asthma is a disease of airway inflammation and hyperreactivity that is associated with a lymphocytic infiltrate in the bronchial submucosa. The interactions between infiltrating T lymphocytes with cellular and extracellular matrix components of the airway and the consequences of these interactions have not been defined. We demonstrate the constitutive expression of CD44 on human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells in culture as well as in human bronchial tissue transplanted into severe combined immunodeficient mice. In contrast, basal levels of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) expression are minimal but are induced on ASM by inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). Activated, but not resting T cells, adhere to cultured ASM; stimulation of the ASM with TNF-alpha enhanced this adhesion. Adhesion was partially blocked by monoclonal antibodies (mAb) specific for lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) and very late antigen 4 (VLA-4) on T cells and ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 on ASM cells. The observed integrin-independent adhesion was mediated by CD44/hyaluronate interactions as it was inhibited by anti-CD44 mAb 5F12 and by hyaluronidase. Furthermore, the adhesion of activated T lymphocytes induced DNA synthesis in growth-arrested ASM cells. Thus, the interaction between T cells and ASM may provide insight into the mechanisms that induce bronchial inflammation and possibly ASM cell hyperplasia seen in asthma.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is synthesized intracellularly by the enzymes cystathionine-γ-lyase and cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS), and is proposed to be a gasotransmitter with effects in modulating inflammation and cellular proliferation. We determined a role of H2S in airway smooth muscle (ASM) function. ASM were removed from resection or transplant donor lungs and were placed in culture. Proliferation of ASM was induced by FCS and the proinflammatory cytokine, IL-1β. Proliferation of ASM and IL-8 release were measured by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and ELISA, respectively. Exposure of ASM to H2S “donors” inhibited this proliferation and IL-8 release. Methemoglobin, a scavenger of endogenous H2S, increased DNA synthesis induced by FCS and IL-1β. In addition, methemoglobin increased IL-8 release induced by FCS, but not by IL-1β, indicating a role for endogenous H2S in these systems. Inhibition of CBS, but not cystathionine-γ-lyase, reversed the inhibitory effect of H2S on proliferation and IL-8 release, indicating that this is dependent on CBS. CBS mRNA and protein expression were inhibited by H2S donors, and were increased by methemoglobin, indicating that CBS is the main enzyme responsible for endogenous H2S production. Finally, we found that exogenous H2S inhibited the phosphorylation of extracellular signal–regulated kinase–1/2 and p38, which could represent a mechanism by which H2S inhibited cellular proliferation and IL-8 release. In summary, H2S production provides a novel mechanism for regulation of ASM proliferation and IL-8 release. Therefore, regulation of H2S may represent a novel approach to controlling ASM proliferation and cytokine release that is found in patients with asthma.
hydrogen sulfide; airway smooth muscle; cystathionine-γ-lyase; cystathionine-β-synthase; extracellular signal–regulated kinase–1/2
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of allergic asthma by orchestrating and perpetuating airway inflammation and remodeling responses. In this study, we evaluated the IL-17RA signal transduction and gene expression profile in ASM cells from subjects with mild asthma and healthy individuals. Human primary ASM cells were treated with IL-17A and probed by the Affymetrix GeneChip array, and gene targets were validated by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. Genomic analysis underlined the proinflammatory nature of IL-17A, as multiple NF-κB regulatory factors and chemokines were induced in ASM cells. Transcriptional regulators consisting of primary response genes were overrepresented and displayed dynamic expression profiles. IL-17A poorly enhanced IL-1β or IL-22 gene responses in ASM cells from both subjects with mild asthma and healthy donors. Interestingly, protein modifications to the NF-κB regulatory network were not observed after IL-17A stimulation, although oscillations in IκBε expression were detected. ASM cells from subjects with mild asthma up-regulated more genes with greater overall variability in response to IL-17A than from healthy donors. Finally, in response to IL-17A, ASM cells displayed rapid activation of the extracellular signal–regulated kinase/ribosomal S6 kinase signaling pathway and increased nuclear levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal–regulated kinase. Taken together, our results suggest that IL-17A mediated modest gene expression response, which, in cooperation with the NF-κB signaling network, may regulate the gene expression profile in ASM cells.
IL-17RA; signal transduction; gene expression; airway smooth muscle cells
Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) is a member of the CC family of cytokines. It has monocyte and lymphocyte chemotactic activity and stimulates histamine release from basophils. MCP-1 is implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases, including asthma. The airway smooth muscle (ASM) layer is thickened in asthma, and the growth factors and cytokines secreted by ASM cells play a role in the inflammatory response of the bronchial wall. Glucocorticoids and β2-agonists are first-line drug treatments for asthma. Little is known about the effect of asthma treatments on MCP-1 production from human ASM cells. Here, we determined the effect of ciclesonide (a glucocorticoid) and formoterol (a β2-agonist) on MCP-1 production from human ASM cells. TNFα and IL-1β induced MCP-1 secretion from human ASM cells. Formoterol had no effect on MCP-1 expression, while ciclesonide significantly inhibited IL-1β- and TNFα-induced MCP-1. Furthermore, ciclesonide inhibited IL-1β- and TNFα-induced MCP-1 mRNA and IL-1β- and TNFα-induced MCP-1 promoter and enhancer luciferase reporters. Western blots showed that ciclesonide had no effect on IκB degradation. Finally, ciclesonide inhibited an NF-κB luciferase reporter. Our data show that ciclesonide inhibits IL-1β- and TNFα-induced MCP-1 production from human ASM cells via a transcriptional mechanism involving inhibition of NF-κB binding.
glucocorticoid; nuclear factor-κB; inflammation