Background: The epithelial reticular basement membrane (Rbm) of the airway wall thickens in patients with asthma. However, whether the thickening parallels whole airway wall thickening, which limits airflow, is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the correlation between the bronchial Rbm thickening and whole airway wall thickening in asthma. In addition, the association of Rbm and whole wall thickening with airflow obstruction was examined.
Methods: Forty nine patients with asthma and 18 healthy control subjects took part in the study. The Rbm thickness was measured in bronchial biopsy specimens and whole airway wall thickness was assessed with high resolution computed tomographic (HRCT) scanning after pretreatment with oral steroids for 2 weeks and inhaled ß2 agonist to minimise reversible changes of the airway walls. The percentage airway wall area (WA%; defined as (wall area/total airway area) x 100) and percentage airway wall thickness (WT%; defined as [(ideal outer diameter – ideal luminal diameter)/ideal outer diameter] x 100) were determined from HRCT scans to assess whole airway wall thickness. Spirometric tests were also performed.
Results: WA% and WT% were higher in patients with asthma than in healthy subjects. Both WA% and WT% were strongly correlated with Rbm thickness. Moreover, these three indices of airway wall thickness were inversely correlated with the percentage of predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second in patients with asthma.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that Rbm thickening parallels whole airway wall thickening which can cause irreversible airflow obstruction in patients with asthma.
Whole airway wall thickening on high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) is reported to parallel thickening of the bronchial epithelial reticular basement membrane (RBM) in adult asthmatics. A similar relationship in children with difficult asthma (DA), in whom RBM thickening is a known feature, may allow the use of HRCT as a non-invasive marker of airway remodelling. We evaluated this relationship in children with DA.
27 children (median age 10.5 [range 4.1–16.7] years) with DA, underwent endobronchial biopsy from the right lower lobe and HRCT less than 4 months apart. HRCTs were assessed for bronchial wall thickening (BWT) of the right lower lobe using semi-quantitative and quantitative scoring techniques. The semi-quantitative score (grade 0–4) was an overall assessment of BWT of all clearly identifiable airways in HRCT scans. The quantitative score (BWT %; defined as [airway outer diameter – airway lumen diameter]/airway outer diameter ×100) was the average score of all airways visible and calculated using electronic endpoint callipers. RBM thickness in endobronchial biopsies was measured using image analysis. 23/27 subjects performed spirometry and the relationships between RBM thickness and BWT with airflow obstruction evaluated.
Median RBM thickness in endobronchial biopsies was 6.7(range 4.6 – 10.0) μm. Median qualitative score for BWT of the right lower lobe was 1(range 0 – 1.5) and quantitative score was 54.3 (range 48.2 – 65.6)%. There was no relationship between RBM thickness and BWT in the right lower lobe using either scoring technique. No relationship was found between FEV1 and BWT or RBM thickness.
Although a relationship between RBM thickness and BWT on HRCT has been found in adults with asthma, this relationship does not appear to hold true in children with DA.
Reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickening has been variably associated with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Even if RBM thickness is similar in both diseases, its composition might still differ.
To assess whether RBM thickness and composition differ between asthma and COPD.
We investigated 24 allergic asthmatics (forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1] 92% predicted), and 17 nonallergic COPD patients (FEV1 60% predicted), and for each group a control group of similar age and smoking habits (12 and 10 persons, respectively). Snap-frozen sections of bronchial biopsies were stained with hematoxylin/eosin and for collagen I, III, IV, V, laminin and tenascin. RBM thickening was assessed by digital image analysis. Relative staining intensity of each matrix component was determined.
Mean (SD) RBM thickness was not significantly different between asthma and COPD 5.5 (1.3) vs 6.0 (1.8) μm, but significantly larger than in their healthy counterparts, ie, 4.7 (0.9) and 4.8 (1.2) μm, respectively. Collagen I and laminin stained significantly stronger in asthma than in COPD. Tenascin stained stronger in asthma than in healthy controls of similar age, and stronger in COPD controls than in asthma controls (p < 0.05).
RBM thickening occurs both in asthma and COPD. We provide supportive evidence that its composition differs in asthma and COPD.
reticular basement membrane thickness; reticular basement membrane composition; asthma; biopsy; COPD; remodeling
This study compared reticular basement membrane (Rbm) and vascular remodelling within the bronchial mucosa of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with those from patients with asthma, to test the ‘Dutch hypothesis’ of whether these are essentially the same or different pathological conditions.
Methods and results
Bronchoscopic biopsies were stained with anti-collagen IV antibody; 18 current smoking COPD, 10 symptomatic asthmatics and 13 healthy non-smoking controls were studied. The Rbm in COPD was fragmented, non-homogeneous, variable in thickness and hypervascular, whereas in asthma the Rbm was compact and homogeneous with no evidence of increased vascularity compared to controls. Length of Rbm splitting presented as percentage of Rbm length was used to measure fragmentation; it was greater in COPD than in controls and asthmatics [median (range) 20.7% (0.4–68.5) versus 5.3% (0.0–21.7) versus 1.5% (0.0–15.1), P < 0.001]. The number of Rbm vessels/mm Rbm [median (range) 10.1 (1.6–23.0) versus 4.5 (0.0–26.4) versus 4.4 (0.4–8.1), P < 0.01] and area of Rbm vessels, μm2/mm Rbm [median (range) 953 (115–2456) versus 462 (0–3263) versus 426 (32–2216), P < 0.05] was also increased in COPD compared to normal subjects and asthmatics.
The characteristics of Rbm remodelling are quite different in asthma and COPD.
airway remodelling; asthma; bronchial biopsies; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; reticular basement membrane
Background: The effective management and development of new treatments for children with difficult asthma requires investigation of the underlying airway pathology and its relationships with persistent symptoms and airflow limitation.
Methods: The density of immunologically distinct inflammatory cells and cells expressing interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and RANTES was determined in paraffin-embedded endobronchial biopsy specimens from 27 children with difficult asthma (6–16 years) following treatment with systemic corticosteroids. Eleven non-asthmatic children (7–16 years) acted as controls. Reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickness was also recorded and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) measured, the latter in asthmatic children only.
Results: RBM thickness was greater in the asthmatic than the control group (median (range) 7.4 (3.1–11.1) v 5.1 (3.5–7.5) µm, p = 0.02). No other significant tissue difference was seen, nor was there a difference between asthmatic subjects with daily symptoms after systemic corticosteroids and those who became asymptomatic. CD4+ T lymphocyte density was higher in asthmatic subjects with persistent airflow limitation (post-bronchodilator FEV1<80% predicted) than in those without (9.1 (5.5–13.6) v 3.5 (0.6–34.9)%, p = 0.027). Analysing all asthmatic subjects together, there were negative correlations between CD4+ T lymphocytes and both pre-bronchodilator FEV1 (r = –0.57 (95% CI –0.79 to –0.23), p = 0.002) and post-bronchodilator FEV1 (r = –0.61 (95% CI –0.81 to –0.29), p<0.001). There were no significant correlations between FENO and inflammatory cells of any type.
Conclusion: In children with difficult asthma treated with systemic corticosteroids, persistent airflow limitation is associated with a greater density of CD4+ T lymphocytes in endobronchial biopsy specimens.
Little is known about airway remodelling in bronchial biopsies (BB) in smokers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We conducted an initial pilot study comparing BB from COPD patients with nonsmoking controls. This pilot study suggested the presence of reticular basement membrane (Rbm) fragmentation and altered vessel distribution in COPD.
To determine whether Rbm fragmentation and altered vessel distribution in BB were specific for COPD we designed a cross-sectional study and stained BB from 19 current smokers and 14 ex-smokers with mild to moderate COPD and compared these to 15 current smokers with normal lung function and 17 healthy and nonsmoking subjects.
Thickness of the Rbm was not significantly different between groups; although in COPD this parameter was quite variable. The Rbm showed fragmentation and splitting in both current smoking groups and ex-smoker COPD compared with healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.02); smoking and COPD seemed to have additive effects. Rbm fragmentation correlated with smoking history in COPD but not with age. There were more vessels in the Rbm and fewer vessels in the lamina propria in current smokers compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.05). The number of vessels staining for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the Rbm was higher in both current smoker groups and ex-smoker COPD compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.004). In current smoker COPD VEGF vessel staining correlated with FEV1% predicted (r = 0.61, p < 0.02).
Airway remodelling in smokers and mild to moderate COPD is associated with fragmentation of the Rbm and altered distribution of vessels in the airway wall. Rbm fragmentation was also present to as great an extent in ex-smokers with COPD. These characteristics may have potential physiological consequences.
Background and Objective. Using Collagen IV staining, we have previously reported that the reticular basement membrane (Rbm) is hypervascular and the lamina propria (LP) is hypovascular in COPD airways. This study compared Collagen IV staining with vessels marked with anti-Factor VIII and examined vessel permeability in bronchial biopsies from COPD and normal subjects using albumin staining. Results. Anti-Collagen IV antibody detected more vessels in the Rbm (P = 0.002) and larger vessels in both Rbm (P < 0.001) and LP (P = 0.003) compared to Factor VIII. COPD airways had more vessels (with greater permeability) in the Rbm (P = 0.01) and fewer vessels (with normal permeability) in the LP compared to controls with both Collagen IV and Factor VIII antibodies (P = 0.04 and P = 0.01). Conclusion. Rbm vessels were increased in number and were hyperpermeable in COPD airways. Anti-Collagen IV and anti-Factor VIII antibodies did not uniformly detect the same vessel populations; the first is likely to reflect larger and older vessels with the latter reflecting smaller, younger vessels.
Eosinophil-derived TGF-β has been implicated in remodeling events in asthma. We hypothesized that reduction of bronchial mucosal eosinophils with anti–IL-5 would reduce markers of airway remodeling. Bronchial biopsies were obtained before and after three infusions of a humanized, anti–IL-5 monoclonal antibody (mepolizumab) in 24 atopic asthmatics in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The thickness and density of tenascin, lumican, and procollagen III in the reticular basement membrane (RBM) were quantified immunohistochemically by confocal microscopy. Expression of TGF-β1 mRNA by airway eosinophils was assessed by in situ hybridization, and TGF-β1 protein was measured in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid by ELISA. At baseline, airway eosinophil infiltration and ECM protein deposition was increased in the RBM of asthmatics compared with nonasthmatic controls. Treating asthmatics with anti–IL-5 antibody, which specifically decreased airway eosinophil numbers, significantly reduced the expression of tenascin, lumican, and procollagen III in the bronchial mucosal RBM when compared with placebo. In addition, anti–IL-5 treatment was associated with a significant reduction in the numbers and percentage of airway eosinophils expressing mRNA for TGF-β1 and the concentration of TGF-β1 in BAL fluid. Therefore eosinophils may contribute to tissue remodeling processes in asthma by regulating the deposition of ECM proteins.
It has been suggested that cysteinyl leukotrienes (cysLTs) play an important role in airway remodeling. Previous reports have indicated that cysLTs augment human airway smooth muscle cell proliferation. Recently, cysLTs have been measured in exhaled breath condensate (EBC). The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between cysLTs in EBC and another marker of airway remodeling, reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickening, in endobronchial biopsies in children.
29 children, aged 4–15 years, with moderate to severe persistent asthma, who underwent bronchoscopy as part of their clinical assessment, were included. Subjects underwent spirometry and EBC collection for cysLTs analysis, followed by bronchoscopy and endobronchial biopsy within 24 hours.
EBC cysLTs were significantly lower in asthmatic children who were treated with montelukast than in those who were not (median (interquartile range) 36.62 (22.60–101.05) versus 249.1 (74.21–526.36) pg/ml, p = 0.004). There was a significant relationship between EBC cysLTs and RBM thickness in the subgroup of children who were not treated with montelukast (n = 13, r = 0.75, p = 0.003).
EBC cysLTs appear to be associated with RBM thickening in asthma.
The reticular basement membrane (Rbm) in smokers and especially smokers with COPD is fragmented with "clefts" containing cells staining for the collagenase matrix-metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and fibroblast protein, S100A4. These cells are also present in the basal epithelium. Such changes are likely hallmarks of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). We aimed to confirm the epithelial origin of these Rbm cells, and to exclude potential confounding by infiltrating inflammatory cells.
Endobronchial biopsy sections from 17 COPD current smokers, with documented Rbm splitting and cellularity were stained for neutrophil elastase (neutrophil marker), CD68 (macrophage/mature fibroblasts), CD4+/CD8+ T lymphocytes, CD19 (B-cells), CD11c (dendritic cells/inflammatory cells), and S100 (Langerhans cells). The number of cells in the Rbm and epithelium staining for these "inflammatory" cell markers were then compared to numbers staining for S100A4, "a documented EMT epitope". Slides were double stained for S100A4 and cytokeratin(s).
In the basal epithelium significantly more cells stained for S100A4 compared to infiltrating macrophages, fibroblasts or immune cells: median, 26 (21.3 - 37.3) versus 0 (0 - 9.6) per mm, p < 0.003. Markedly more S100A4 staining cells were also observed in the Rbm compared to infiltrating macrophages, neutrophils, fibroblasts or immune cells or any sub-type: 58 (37.3 - 92.6) versus 0 (0 - 4.8) cells/mm Rbm, p < 0.003. Cells in the basal epithelium 26 (21.3 - 37.3) per mm) and Rbm (5.9 (2.3 - 13.8) per mm) frequently double stained for both cytokeratin and S100A4.
These data provide additional support for active EMT in COPD airways.
cytokeratin; clefts; epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT); inflammatory cells and S100A4
Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) is a multipotential cytokine with angiogenic activity. There are only limited data about its role in airway remodeling in COPD. We have previously shown that the reticular basement membrane (Rbm) is hypervascular in the airways of current smokers either with or without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study evaluated TGF-β1 immunostaining in the Rbm and its relationship to vascularity in smokers with or without COPD.
Bronchial biopsies from 15 smokers with normal lung function, 19 current and 14 ex-smokers with COPD were immunostained for TGF-β1 antibody and compared to 17 healthy controls. The percentage area of tissue and also number and area of vessels staining positively for TGF-β1 were measured and compared between groups. Some bronchial biopsies from current smoking COPD subjects were also stained for phosphorylated (active) Smad2/3. Epithelial TGF- β1 staining was not different between COPD current smokers and normal controls. TGF-β1 stained vessels in the Rbm were increased in smokers with normal lung function, current smoking COPD and ex-smokers with COPD compared to controls [median (range) for number of vessels/mm Rbm 2.5 (0.0–12.7), 3.4 (0.0–8.1) and 1.0 (0.0–6.3) vs. 0.0 (0.0–7.0), p<0.05]. Percentage of vessels stained was also increased in these clinical groups. Preliminary data suggest that in current smoking COPD subjects endothelial cells and cells in the Rbm stain positively for phosphorylated Smad2/3 suggesting TGF-β1 is functionally active in this situation.
Vessel-associated TGF-β1 activity is increased in the bronchial Rbm in smokers and especially those with COPD.
The bronchial pathology of asymptomatic airway hyperreponsiveness (AHR) subjects is not well understood, and the role of atopy in the development of airway remodeling is unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether atopy is associated with airway remodeling in asymptomatic AHR subjects. Five groups, i.e., atopic or non-atopic subjects with asymptomatic AHR, atopic or non-atopic healthy controls, and subjects with mild atopic asthma, were evaluated by bronchoscopic biopsy. By electron microscopy, mean reticular basement membrane (RBM) thicknesses were 4.3±1.7 µm, 3.4±1.8 µm, 2.5±1.5 µm, 2.6±1.1 µm, and 2.3±1.2 µm in the mild atopic asthma, atopic and non-atopic asymptomatic AHR, atopic and non-atopic control groups, respectively (p=0.002). RBM thicknesses were significantly higher in the mild atopic asthma group and in the atopic asymptomatic AHR group than in the other three groups (p=0.048). No significant difference in RBM thickness was observed between the atopic asymptomatic AHR group and the mild atopic asthma group (p>0.05), nor between non-atopic asymptomatic AHR group and the two control groups (p>0.05). By light microscopy, subepithelial layer thicknesses between the groups showed the same results. These findings suggest that RBM thickening occurs in subjects with atopic asymptomatic AHR, and that atopy plays an important role in airway remodeling.
Asymptomatic Airway Hyperresponsiveness; Atopy; Airway Remodeling; Reticular Basement Membrane; Subepithelial Layer Thickness
The relationship between airway structural changes and inflammation is unclear in early cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. A study was undertaken to determine changes in airway remodelling in children with CF compared with appropriate disease and healthy controls.
Bronchoalveolar lavage and endobronchial biopsy were performed in a cross‐sectional study of 43 children with CF (aged 0.3–16.8 years), 7 children with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), 26 with chronic respiratory symptoms (CRS) investigated for recurrent infection and/or cough and 7 control children with no lower airway symptoms. Inflammatory cells, cytokines, proteases and matrix constituents were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickness was measured on biopsy specimens using light microscopy.
Increased concentrations of elastin, glycosaminoglycans and collagen were found in BALF from children with CF compared with the CRS group and controls, each correlating positively with age, neutrophil count and proteases (elastase activity and matrix metalloproteinase‐9 (MMP‐9) concentration). There were significant negative correlations between certain of these and pulmonary function (forced expiratory volume in 1 s) in the CF group (elastin: r = −0.45, p<0.05; MMP‐9:TIMP‐1 ratio: r = −0.47, p<0.05). Median RBM thickness was greater in the CF group than in the controls (5.9 μm vs 4.0 μm, p<0.01) and correlated positively with levels of transforming growth factor‐β1 (TGF‐β1; r = 0.53, p = 0.01), although not with other inflammatory markers or pulmonary function.
This study provides evidence for two forms of airway remodelling in children with CF: (1) matrix breakdown, related to inflammation, proteolysis and impaired pulmonary function, and (2) RBM thickening, related to TGF‐β1 concentration but independent of other markers of inflammation.
We recently demonstrated that increased expression of the RNA-binding protein RBM3 is associated with a favourable prognosis in breast cancer. The aim of this study was to examine the prognostic value of RBM3 mRNA and protein expression in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) and the cisplatin response upon RBM3 depletion in a cisplatin-sensitive ovarian cancer cell line.
RBM3 mRNA expression was analysed in tumors from a cohort of 267 EOC cases (Cohort I) and RBM3 protein expression was analysed using immunohistochemistry (IHC) in an independent cohort of 154 prospectively collected EOC cases (Cohort II). Kaplan Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazards modelling were applied to assess the relationship between RBM3 and recurrence free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS). Immunoblotting and IHC were used to examine the expression of RBM3 in a cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer cell line A2780-Cp70 and its cisplatin-responsive parental cell line A2780. The impact of RBM3 on cisplatin response in EOC was assessed using siRNA-mediated silencing of RBM3 in A2780 cells followed by cell viability assay and cell cycle analysis.
Increased RBM3 mRNA expression was associated with a prolonged RFS (HR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.47-0.86, p = 0.003) and OS (HR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.44-0.95, p = 0.024) in Cohort I. Multivariate analysis confirmed that RBM3 mRNA expression was an independent predictor of a prolonged RFS, (HR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.44-0.84, p = 0.003) and OS (HR = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.41-0.95; p = 0.028) in Cohort I. In Cohort II, RBM3 protein expression was associated with a prolonged OS (HR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.35-0.79, p = 0.002) confirmed by multivariate analysis (HR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.40-0.92, p = 0.017). RBM3 mRNA and protein expression levels were significantly higher in the cisplatin sensitive A2780 cell line compared to the cisplatin resistant A2780-Cp70 derivative. siRNA-mediated silencing of RBM3 expression in the A2780 cells resulted in a decreased sensitivity to cisplatin as demonstrated by increased cell viability and reduced proportion of cells arrested in the G2/M-phase.
These data demonstrate that RBM3 expression is associated with cisplatin sensitivity in vitro and with a good prognosis in EOC. Taken together these findings suggest that RBM3 may be a useful prognostic and treatment predictive marker in EOC.
A fribotic tumor microenvironment promotes progression of cancer. In this study, we utilize a reconstituted basement membrane mimics Matrigel based three-dimensional organotypic culture (rBM 3-D) to investigate the mechanisms that mediate the tumor promoting effects of the fibrogenic mediators TGF-β1 and type I collagen (Col-1) on lung adenocarcinoma cells. Similar to normal alveolar epithelial cells, the well-differentiated lung adenocarcinoma cells in rBM 3-D culture undergo acinar morphogeneis that features polarized epithelial cell spheres with a single central lumen. Either TGF-β1 or Col-1 modestly distorts acinar morphogenesis. On the other hand, TGF-β1 and Col-1 synergistically induce a transition from acinar morphology into stellate morphology that is characteristic of invasive and metastatic cancer cells. Inhibition of the Src kinase activity abrogates induction of stellate morphology, activation of Akt and mTOR, and the expression of tumor promoting genes by TGF-β1 and Col-1. To a similar extent, pharmacological inhibition of mTOR abrogates the cellular responses to TGF-β1 and Col-1. In summary, we demonstrate that TGF-β1 and Col-1 promote stellate morphogenesis of lung cancer cells. Our findings further suggest that the Src-Akt-mTOR axis mediates stellate morphogenesis. These findings also indicate that rBM 3-D culture can serve as an ideal platform for swift and cost-effective screening of therapeutic candidates at the interface of the tumor and its microenvironment.
TGF-β1; Src; Type I collagen; Three-dimensional culture; Extracellular matrix
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a leading cause of heart failure and death. The etiology of DCM is genetically heterogeneous.
We sought to define the prevalence of mutations in the RNA splicing protein, RBM20, in a large cohort with DCM, and to determine if genetic variation in RBM20 is associated with clinical outcomes.
Subjects included in the GRADE (Genetic Risk Assessment of Defibrillator Events) study were at least 18 years of age, had an ejection fraction of ≤ 30%, and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). The coding region and splice junctions of RBM20 were screened in DCM subjects; two common polymorphisms in RBM20, rs942077 and rs35141404, were genotyped in all GRADE subjects.
1465 subjects were enrolled in the GRADE study and 283 with DCM were screened for RBM20 mutations. The mean age of subjects with DCM was 58 ± 13 years, 64% were male and the mean follow up was 24.2 ± 17.1 months after ICD placement. RBM20 mutations were identified in eight subjects with DCM (2.8%). Mutation carriers had a similar survival, transplantation rate, and frequency of ICD therapy compared to non-mutation carriers. Three of eight subjects (37.5%) with RBM20 mutations had atrial fibrillation (AF) whereas 19 (7.4%) subjects without mutations had AF (p= 0.02). Among all GRADE subjects, rs35141404 was associated with AF (minor allele OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.44–0.86, p=0.006). In the subset of GRADE subjects with DCM, rs35141404 was associated with AF (minor allele OR 0.58, p=0.047).
Mutations in RBM20 were observed in approximately 3% of subjects with DCM. There were no differences in survival, transplantation rate, and frequency of ICD therapy in mutation carriers.
dilated cardiomyopathy; genetics; mutation; single nucleotide polymorphism; RBM20
Aims: To examine whether asthma induced by exposure to aluminium potroom emissions (potroom asthma) is associated with inflammatory changes in the airways.
Methods: Bronchial biopsy specimens from 20 asthmatic workers (8 non-smokers and 12 smokers), 15 healthy workers (8 non-smokers and 7 smokers), and 10 non-exposed controls (all non-smokers) were analysed. Immunohistofluorescent staining was performed to identify mucosal total leucocytes (CD45+ leucocytes), neutrophils, and mast cells.
Results: Median RBM thickness was significantly increased in both asthmatic workers (8.2 µm) and healthy workers (7.4 µm) compared to non-exposed controls (6.7 µm). Non-smoking asthmatic workers had significantly increased median density of lamina propria CD45+ leucocytes (1519 cells/mm2v 660 and 887 cells/mm2) and eosinophils (27 cells/mm2v 10 and 3 cells/mm2) and significantly increased concentrations of exhaled NO (18.1 ppb v 6.5 and 5.1 ppb) compared to non-smoking healthy workers and non-exposed controls. Leucocyte counts and exhaled NO concentrations varied with smoking habits and fewer leucocytes were observed in asthmatic smokers than in non-smokers Asthmatic smokers had significantly increased numbers of eosinophils in lamina propria compared to non-exposed controls (10 v 3 cells/mm2). Both eosinophilic and non-eosinophilic phenotypes of asthma were recognised in the potroom workers and signs of airway inflammation were also observed in healthy workers.
Conclusions: Airway inflammation is a central feature of potroom asthma and exposure to potroom emissions induces pathological alterations similar to those described in other types of asthma. Cigarette smoking seems to affect the underlying mechanisms involved in asthma, as the cellular composition of airway mucosa appears different in asthmatic smokers and non-smokers.
Methods: Exhaled nitric oxide was measured and induced sputum, bronchoscopy, bronchial wash (BW), bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and bronchial biopsy were performed in 16 subjects with eosinophilic bronchitis, 15 with asthma, and 14 normal controls.
Results: Both eosinophilic bronchitis and asthma were characterised by an induced sputum, BW and BAL eosinophilia, an increased number of epithelial and subepithelial eosinophils, and increased reticular basement membrane thickness. The median concentration of exhaled nitric oxide was higher in those with eosinophilic bronchitis (12 ppb) or asthma (8.5 ppb) than normal controls (2 ppb) (95% CI of the difference 5 to 16, p<0.0001 and 2 to 11.3, p=0.004, respectively). There were no group differences in epithelial integrity or the number of subepithelial T lymphocytes, mast cells or macrophages.
Conclusion: With the exception of our previously reported association of smooth muscle mast cell infiltration with asthma, the immunopathology of eosinophilic bronchitis and asthma are similar which suggests that eosinophilic airway inflammation, increased exhaled nitric oxide, and increased basement membrane thickening are regulated independently of airway hyperresponsiveness.
RBM15 is the fusion partner with MKL in the t(1;22) translocation of acute megakaryoblastic leukemia. To understand the role of the RBM15-MKL1 fusion protein in leukemia, we must understand the normal functions of RBM15 and MKL. Here, we show a role for Rbm15 in myelopoiesis. Rbm15 is expressed at highest levels in hematopoietic stem cells and at more moderate levels during myelopoiesis of murine cell lines and primary murine cells. Decreasing Rbm15 levels with RNA interference enhances differentiation of the 32DWT18 myeloid precursor cell line. Conversely, enforced expression of Rbm15 inhibits 32DWT18 differentiation. We show that Rbm15 alters Notch-induced HES1 promoter activity in a cell type-specific manner. Rbm15 inhibits Notch-induced HES1 transcription in nonhematopoietic cells but stimulates this activity in hematopoietic cell lines, including 32DWT18 and human erythroleukemia cells. Moreover, the N terminus of Rbm15 coimmunoprecipitates with RBPJκ, a critical factor in Notch signaling, and the Rbm15 N terminus has a dominant negative effect, impairing activation of HES1 promoter activity by full-length-Rbm15. Thus, Rbm15 is differentially expressed during hematopoiesis and may act to inhibit myeloid differentiation in hematopoietic cells via a mechanism that is mediated by stimulation of Notch signaling via RBPJκ.
Chronic inflammation in asthmatic airways leads to bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) and the development of structural changes. Important features of remodeling include the formation of subepithelial fibrosis due to increased collagen deposition in the reticular basement membrane. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β might be a central mediator of tissue fibrosis and remodeling.
Materials and Methods:
Immunohistochemistry was used to measure collagen III deposition and TGF-β1 expression in biopsies from patients with long-standing asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroids, patients with recently diagnosed asthma, and control subjects. Computer-assisted image analysis was used to evaluate total basement membrane (TBM) thickness.
Asthmatics, particularly those with long-standing asthma, had thicker TBMs than healthy subjects. Collagen III deposition was comparable in the studied groups. BHR was not correlated with features of mucosal inflammation and was lower in steroid-treated patients with long-standing asthma than in subjects with newly diagnosed asthma untreated with steroids. Epithelial TGF-β1 expression negatively correlated with collagen III deposition and TBM thickness.
The study showed that TBM thickness, but not collagen III deposition, could be a differentiating marker of asthmatics of different disease duration and treatment. The lack of correlation between BHR and features of mucosal inflammation suggests the complexity of BHR development. Corticosteroids can reduce BHR in asthmatics, but it seems to be less effective in reducing subepithelial fibrosis. The role of epithelial TGF-β1 needs to be further investigated since the possibility that it plays a protective and anti-inflammatory role in asthmatic airways cannot be excluded.
bronchial hyper-responsiveness; subepithelial fibrosis; airway remodeling; transforming growth factor-β
My research career has focused on the causes of asthma and its treatment. After establishing the key role that mast cells play in the inflammatory response in asthma, attention was turned towards understanding disease chronicity and variability across the lifecourse. Through a combination of studies on airway biopsies and primary cell cultures we have established that asthma is primarily an epithelial disease driven by increased environmental susceptibility to injury and an altered repair response as depicted by sustained activation of the epithelial mesenchymal trophic unit (EMTU) that is invoked in foetal branching morphogenesis. Varied activation of the EMTU connects the origins of asthma to its progression over time with involvement of epithelial susceptibility through impaired barrier and innate immune functions and altered mesenchymal susceptibility as exemplified by polymorphisms of the metalloprotease gene, ADAM33. Taken together these observations have led to a fundamental re-evaluation of asthma pathogenesis. Rather than placing allergic inflammation as the prime abnormality, it is proposed that the airway epithelium lies at the center of asthma pathogenesis, and that in conjunction with the underlying mesenchyme, it is the principle orchestrator of both the induction of asthma and its evolution over the lifecourse. This concept has provided 'the basis for a new preventative and therapeutic approach focused more on increasing the airways resistance to environmental insults rather than suppressing downstream inflammation once it is established.
Asthma; management; prevention; treatment
The RNA-binding motif protein 3 (RBM3) was initially discovered as a putative cancer biomarker based on its differential expression in various cancer forms in the Human Protein Atlas (HPA). We previously reported an association between high expression of RBM3 and prolonged survival in breast and epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Because the function of RBM3 has not been fully elucidated, the aim of this study was to use gene set enrichment analysis to identify the underlying biologic processes associated with RBM3 expression in a previously analyzed EOC cohort (cohort 1, n = 267). This revealed an association between RBM3 expression and several cellular processes involved in the maintenance of DNA integrity. RBM3-regulated genes were subsequently screened in the HPA to select for putative prognostic markers, and candidate proteins were analyzed in the ovarian cancer cell line A2780, whereby an up-regulation of Chk1, Chk2, and MCM3 was demonstrated in siRBM3-treated cells compared to controls. The prognostic value of these markers was assessed at the messenger RNA level in cohort 1 and the protein level in an independent EOC cohort (cohort 2, n = 154). High expression levels of Chk1, Chk2, and MCM3 were associated with a significantly shorter survival in both cohorts, and phosphorylated Chk2 was an adverse prognostic marker in cohort 2. These results uncover a putative role for RBM3 in DNA damage response, which might, in part, explain its cisplatin-sensitizing properties and good prognostic value in EOC. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that Chk1, Chk2, and MCM3 are poor prognostic markers in EOC.
Studies on the stem cell niche and the efficacy of cancer therapeutics require complex multicellular structures and interactions between different cell types and extracellular matrix (ECM) in three dimensional (3D) space. We have engineered a 3D in vitro model of mammary gland that encompasses a defined, porous collagen/hyaluronic acid (HA) scaffold forming a physiologically relevant foundation for epithelial and adipocyte co-culture. Polarized ductal and acinar structures form within this scaffold recapitulating normal tissue morphology in the absence of reconstituted basement membrane (rBM) hydrogel. Furthermore, organoid developmental outcome can be controlled by the ratio of collagen to HA, with a higher HA concentration favouring acinar morphological development. Importantly, this culture system recapitulates the stem cell niche as primary mammary stem cells form complex organoids, emphasising the utility of this approach for developmental and tumorigenic studies using genetically altered animals or human biopsy material, and for screening cancer therapeutics for personalised medicine.
The ATPase subunits of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes, Brahma (BRM) and Brahma related gene 1 (BRG1), can induce cell cycle arrest in BRM and BRG1 deficient tumor cell lines, and mice heterozygous for Brg1 are predisposed to breast tumors, implicating loss of BRG1 as a mechanism for unregulated cell proliferation. To test the hypothesis that loss of BRG1 can contribute to breast cancer, we utilized RNA interference to reduce the amounts of BRM or BRG1 protein in the nonmalignant mammary epithelial cell line, MCF-10A. When grown in reconstituted basement membrane (rBM), these cells develop into acini that resemble the lobes of normal breast tissue. Contrary to expectations, knockdown of either BRM or BRG1 resulted in an inhibition of cell proliferation in monolayer cultures that was enhanced in three-dimensional rBM culture. This inhibition was strikingly enhanced in three-dimensional rBM culture, although some BRM depleted cells were later able to resume proliferation. Cells did not arrest in any specific stage of the cell cycle; instead, the cell cycle length increased by approximately 50%. Thus, SWI/SNF ATPases promote cell cycle progression in nonmalignant mammary epithelial cells.
Breast ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is being found in great numbers of women due to the widespread use of mammography. To increase knowledge of DCIS, we determined the expression changes that are common among three DCIS models (MCF10.DCIS, SUM102 and SUM225) compared to the MCF10A model of non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cells in three dimensional (3D) overlay culture with reconstituted basement membrane (rBM). Extracted mRNA was subjected to 76 cycles of deep sequencing (RNA-Seq) using Illumina Genome Analyzer GAIIx. Analysis of RNA-Seq results showed 295 consistently differentially expressed transcripts in the DCIS models. These differentially expressed genes encode proteins that are associated with a number of signaling pathways such as integrin, fibroblast growth factor and TGFβ signaling, show association with cell-cell signaling, cell-cell adhesion and cell proliferation, and have a notable bias toward localization in the extracellular and plasma membrane compartments. RNA-Seq data was validated by quantitative real-time PCR of selected differentially expressed genes. Aldehyde dehydrogenase 5A1 (ALDH5A1) which is an enzyme that is involved in mitochondrial glutamate metabolism, was over-expressed in all three DCIS models at both the mRNA and protein levels. Disulfiram and valproic acid are known to inhibit ALDH5A1 and are safe for chronic use in humans for other disorders. Both of these drugs significantly inhibited net proliferation of the DCIS 3D rBM overlay models, but had minimal effect on MCF10A 3D rBM overlay models. These results suggest that ALDH5A1 may play an important role in DCIS and potentially serve as a novel molecular therapeutic target.