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1.  Induction of Immune Tolerance in Asthmatic Mice by Vaccination with DNA Encoding an Allergen–Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte-Associated Antigen 4 Combination ▿ 
Allergen-specific immunotherapy is a potential treatment for allergic diseases. We constructed an allergen–cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4)-encoding DNA vaccine, administered it directly to antigen-presenting cells (APCs), and investigated its ability and mechanisms to ameliorate allergic airway inflammation in an asthmatic mouse model. An allergen-CTLA-4 DNA plasmid (OVA-CTLA-4-pcDNA3.1) encoding an ovalbumin (OVA) and the mouse CTLA-4 extracellular domain was constructed and transfected into COS-7 cells to obtain the fusion protein OVA-CTLA-4, which was able to bind the B7 ligand on dendritic cells (DCs), and induced CD25+ Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells by the coculture of naive CD4+ T cells with DCs in vitro. In an animal study, BALB/c mice were sensitized and challenged with OVA to establish the asthmatic model. Vaccination with a high dose of OVA-CTLA-4-pcDNA3.1 significantly decreased interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-5 levels and eosinophil counts and prevented OVA-induced reduction of the gamma interferon level in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. In addition, these mice suffered less severe airway inflammation and had lower levels of OVA-specific IgE and IgG1 titers in serum. Also, high-dose OVA-CTLA-4-pcDNA3.1 vaccination inhibited the development of airway hyperreactivity and prevented OVA-induced reduction of the percentages of Foxp3+ Treg cells in the spleen. Our results indicate that a high dose of allergen-CTLA-4-encoding DNA vaccine was more effective in preventing an allergen-induced Th2-skewed immune response through the induction of Treg cells and may be a new alternative therapy for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3122522  PMID: 21346053
2.  IL-17A inhibits airway reactivity induced by RSV infection during allergic airway inflammation 
Thorax  2013;68(8):717-723.
Viral infections are the most frequent cause of asthma exacerbations and are linked to increased airway reactivity (AR) and inflammation. Mice infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) during ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergic airway inflammation (OVA/RSV) had increased AR compared to OVA or RSV mice alone. Further, IL-17A was only increased in OVA/RSV mice.
To determine if IL-17A increases AR and inflammation in the OVA/RSV model.
Wild-type BALB/c and IL-17A KO mice underwent mock, RSV, OVA, or OVA/RSV protocols. Lungs, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and/or mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs) were harvested post infection. Cytokine expression was determined by flow cytometry and ELISA in the lungs or BAL fluid. MLNs were restimulated with either OVA (323–229) peptide or RSV M2 (127–135) peptide and IL-17A protein expression was analyzed. AR was determined by methacholine challenge.
RSV increased IL-17A protein expression by OVA-specific T cells 6 days post infection. OVA/RSV mice had decreased IFN-α and IFN-β protein expression compared to RSV mice. OVA/RSV mice had increased IL-23 mRNA expression in lung homogenates compared to mock, OVA, or RSV mice. Unexpectedly, IL-17A KO OVA/RSV mice had increased AR compared to WT OVA/RSV mice. Further, IL-17A KO OVA/RSV mice had increased eosinophils, lymphocytes, and IL-13 protein expression in BAL fluid compared to WT OVA/RSV mice.
IL-17A negatively regulated AR and airway inflammation in OVA/RSV mice. This finding is important because IL-17A has been identified as a potential therapeutic target in asthma, and inhibiting IL-17A in the setting of virally induced asthma exacerbations may have adverse consequences.
PMCID: PMC3916091  PMID: 23422214
IL-17A; airway reactivity; CD4+ T cells; allergic inflammation; RSV
3.  Neuroimmune semaphorin 4D is necessary for optimal lung allergic inflammation 
Molecular immunology  2013;56(4):480-487.
Neuroimmune semaphorin 4D (Sema4D) was found to be expressed and function in the nervous and immune systems. In the immune system, Sema4D is constitutively expressed on T cells and regulates T cell priming. In addition, it displays a stimulatory function on macrophages, DC, NK cells, and neutrophils. As all these cells are deeply involved in asthma pathology, we hypothesized that Sema4D plays a critical non-redundant regulatory role in allergic airway response. To test our hypothesis, we exposed Sema4D−/− and WT mice to OVA injections and challenges in the well-defined mouse model of OVA-induced experimental asthma. We observed a significant decrease in eosinophilic airway infiltration in allergen-treated Sema4D−/− mice relative to WT mice. This reduced allergic inflammatory response was associated with decreased BAL IL-5, IL-13, TGFβ1, IL-6, and IL-17A levels. In addition, T cell proliferation in OVA323–339 - restimulated Sema4D−/− cell cultures was downregulated. We also found increased Treg numbers in spleens of Sema4D−/− mice. However, airway hyperreactivity (AHR) to methacholine challenges was not affected by Sema4D deficiency in either acute or chronic experimental disease setting. Surprisingly, lung DC number and activation were not affected by Sema4D deficiency. These data provide a new insight into Sema4D biology and define Sema4D as an important regulator of Th2-driven lung pathophysiology and as a potential target for a combinatory disease immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3783523  PMID: 23911404
4.  Parasitic Nematode-Induced CD4+Foxp3+T Cells Can Ameliorate Allergic Airway Inflammation 
The recruitment of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+T (Treg) cells is one of the most important mechanisms by which parasites down-regulate the immune system.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We compared the effects of Treg cells from Trichinella spiralis-infected mice and uninfected mice on experimental allergic airway inflammation in order to understand the functions of parasite-induced Treg cells. After four weeks of T. spiralis infection, we isolated Foxp3-GFP-expressing cells from transgenic mice using a cell sorter. We injected CD4+Foxp3+ cells from T. spiralis-infected [Inf(+)Foxp3+] or uninfected [Inf(-)Foxp3+] mice into the tail veins of C57BL/6 mice before the induction of inflammation or during inflammation. Inflammation was induced by ovalbumin (OVA)-alum sensitization and OVA challenge. The concentrations of the Th2-related cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 in the bronchial alveolar lavage fluid and the levels of OVA-specific IgE and IgG1 in the serum were lower in mice that received intravenous application of Inf(+)Foxp3+ cells [IV(inf):+(+) group] than in control mice. Some features of allergic airway inflammation were ameliorated by the intravenous application of Inf(-)Foxp3+ cells [IV(inf):+(-) group], but the effects were less distinct than those observed in the IV(inf):+(+) group. We found that Inf(+)Foxp3+ cells migrated to inflammation sites in the lung and expressed higher levels of Treg-cell homing receptors (CCR5 and CCR9) and activation markers (Klrg1, Capg, GARP, Gzmb, OX40) than did Inf(-)Foxp3+ cells.
T. spiralis infection promotes the proliferation and functional activation of Treg cells. Parasite-induced Treg cells migrate to the inflammation site and suppress immune responses more effectively than non-parasite-induced Treg cells. The adoptive transfer of Inf(+)Foxp3+ cells is an effective method for the treatment and prevention of allergic airway diseases in mice and is a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of allergic airway diseases.
Author Summary
Many studies have investigated the down-regulation of the immune system by parasite infection. CD4+CD25+Foxp3+T (Treg) cells are key players in parasite-mediated immune downregulation. Our previous study suggested that Treg cells recruited by Trichinella spiralis infection were the key cells mediating the amelioration of allergic airway inflammation in mice. In the present study, we investigated the functions of parasite-induced Treg cells using mice expressing GFP-tagged Foxp3. T. spiralis infection increased the number of Treg cells. Adoptive transfer of the parasite-induced Treg cells to mice with allergic airway inflammation ameliorated allergic airway inflammation. The transferred cells were recruited to inflammation sites in the lung. Cells from parasite-infected mice expressed higher levels of Treg-cell homing receptors and activation markers than did cells from uninfected mice. This study might help explain why immune disorders (often of unknown cause) are more prevalent among people in developed countries (areas with low parasite infection) than among those in developing countries (areas with parasite epidemics). Our finding might improve current cell therapy techniques and facilitate the development of new techniques that use parasites or parasite-borne materials to treat diverse immune disorders.
PMCID: PMC4270642  PMID: 25522145
5.  Protection against the allergic airway inflammation depends on the modulation of spleen dendritic cell function and induction of regulatory T cells in mice 
Allergen-induced imbalance of specific T regulatory (Treg) cells and T helper 2 cells plays a decisive role in the development of immune response against allergens.
To evaluate effects and potential mechanisms of DNA vaccine containing ovalbumin (OVA) and Fc fusion on allergic airway inflammation.
Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) levels of inflammatory mediators and leukocyte infiltration, expression of CD11c+CD80+ and CD11c+CD86+ co-stimulatory molecules in spleen dendritic cells (DCs), circulating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, Foxp3+ in spleen CD4+ T cells and spleen CD4+ T cells were measured in OVA-sensitized and challenged animals pretreated with pcDNA, OVA-pcDNA, Fc-pcDNA, and OVA-Fc-pcDNA.
OVA-Sensitized and challenged mice developed airway inflammation and Th2 responses, and decreased the proliferation of peripheral CD4+and CD8+ T cells and the number of spleen Foxp3+ Treg. Those changes with increased INF-γ production and reduced OVA-specific IgE production were protected by the pretreatment with OVA-Fc-pcDNA.
DNA vaccine encoding both Fc and OVA showed more effective than DNA vaccine encoding Fc or OVA alone, through the balance of DCs and Treg.
PMCID: PMC2861055  PMID: 20334668
6.  Modulation of the Effects of Lung Immune Response on Bone Marrow by Oral Antigen Exposure 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:474132.
Allergic airway inflammation is attenuated by oral tolerization (oral exposure to allergen, followed by conventional sensitization and challenge with homologous antigen), which decreases airway allergen challenge-induced eosinophilic infiltration of the lungs and bone marrow eosinophilia. We examined its effects on bone marrow eosinophil and neutrophil production. Mice of wild type (BP-2, BALB/c, and C57BL/6) and mutant strains (lacking iNOS or CD95L) were given ovalbumin (OVA) or water (vehicle) orally and subsequently sensitized and challenged with OVA (OVA/OVA/OVA and H2O/OVA/OVA groups, resp.). Anti-OVA IgG and IgE, bone marrow eosinophil and neutrophil numbers, and eosinophil and neutrophil production ex vivo were evaluated. T lymphocytes from OVA/OVA/OVA or control H2O/OVA/OVA donors were transferred into naïve syngeneic recipients, which were subsequently sensitized/challenged with OVA. Alternatively, T lymphocytes were cocultured with bone marrow eosinophil precursors from histocompatible sensitized/challenged mice. OVA/OVA/OVA mice of the BP-2 and BALB/c strains showed, relative to H2O/OVA/OVA controls, significantly decreased bone marrow eosinophil counts and ex vivo eosinopoiesis/neutropoiesis. Full effectiveness in vivo required sequential oral/subcutaneous/intranasal exposures to the same allergen. Transfer of splenic T lymphocytes from OVA/OVA/OVA donors to naive recipients prevented bone marrow eosinophilia and eosinopoiesis in response to recipient sensitization/challenge and supressed eosinopoiesis upon coculture with syngeneic bone marrow precursors from sensitized/challenged donors.
PMCID: PMC3793322  PMID: 24171165
7.  Schistosoma mansoni-Mediated Suppression of Allergic Airway Inflammation Requires Patency and Foxp3+ Treg Cells 
The continual rise of asthma in industrialised countries stands in strong contrast to the situation in developing lands. According to the modified Hygiene Hypothesis, helminths play a major role in suppressing bystander immune responses to allergens, and both epidemiological and experimental studies suggest that the tropical parasitic trematode Schistosoma mansoni elicits such effects. The focus of this study was to investigate which developmental stages of schistosome infection confer suppression of allergic airway inflammation (AAI) using ovalbumin (OVA) as a model allergen. Moreover, we assessed the functional role and localization of infection-induced CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) in mediating such suppressive effects. Therefore, AAI was elicited using OVA/adjuvant sensitizations with subsequent OVA aerosolic challenge and was induced during various stages of infection, as well as after successful anti-helminthic treatment with praziquantel. The role of Treg was determined by specifically depleting Treg in a genetically modified mouse model (DEREG) during schistosome infection. Alterations in AAI were determined by cell infiltration levels into the bronchial system, OVA-specific IgE and Th2 type responses, airway hyper-sensitivity and lung pathology. Our results demonstrate that schistosome infection leads to a suppression of OVA-induced AAI when mice are challenged during the patent phase of infection: production of eggs by fecund female worms. Moreover, this ameliorating effect does not persist after anti-helminthic treatment, and depletion of Treg reverts suppression, resulting in aggravated AAI responses. This is most likely due to a delayed reconstitution of Treg in infected-depleted animals which have strong ongoing immune responses. In summary, we conclude that schistosome-mediated suppression of AAI requires the presence of viable eggs and infection-driven Treg cells. These data provide evidence that helminth derived products could be incorporated into treatment strategies that specifically target suppression of immune responses in AAI by inducing Treg cells.
Author Summary
Infections with schistosomes, such as S. mansoni, S. japonicum and S. haematobium, are considered a major public health concern. Morbidity arises through granulomatous responses to eggs that become trapped in infected tissues. Interestingly, schistosomes belong to the group of helminths that have been shown to reduce allergy or autoimmunity. Indeed, the evidence provided by epidemiological surveys and experimental animal models has been so overwhelming that such helminths are now included in the Hygiene Hypothesis. However, since helminths provoke immunological responses that are similar to those seen in allergy (increased eosinophilia and IgE) it is suggested that additional mechanisms dampen such allergic responses. Helminth-induced regulatory T cells (Treg) are considered a component of these modulatory networks. Using an allergic airway inflammation model, we have elucidated that schistosome-mediated protection requires patency, that is, active egg production from fecund female worms. In addition, protection was shown to be mediated by infection-induced Treg. Interestingly, in endemic countries it is usually individuals with strong patent infections that show reduced allergic prevalence. Thus, further research into the immunomodulatory capacity of schistosome-egg derived factors may elucidate novel drug candidates or enhance treatment strategies to reduce allergic responses on the cellular level.
PMCID: PMC3744427  PMID: 23967364
8.  Effect of aging on pulmonary inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness and T and B cell responses in antigen sensitized and challenged mice 
The effect of aging on several pathologic features of allergic-asthma (pulmonary inflammation, eosinophilia, mucus-hypersecretion), and their relationship with airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) is not well characterized.
To evaluate lung inflammation, mucus-metaplasia and AHR in relationship to age in murine models of allergic-asthma comparing young and older mice.
Young (6-week) and older (6-, 12- 18-month) BALB/c mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA). AHR and bronchoalveolar fluid (BALF) total inflammatory cell count and differential were measured. To evaluate mucus-metaplasia, quantitative PCR for the major airway mucin-associated gene, MUC-5AC, from lung tissue was measured, and lung tissue sections stained with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) for goblet-cell enumeration. Lung tissue cytokine gene expression was determined by qPCR, and systemic cytokine protein levels by ELISA from spleen-cell cultures. Antigen-specific serum IgE was determined by ELISA.
AHR developed in both aged and young OVA-sensitized/challenged mice (OVA-mice), and was more significantly increased in young OVA-mice than in aged OVA-mice. However, BALF eosinophil numbers were significantly higher, and lung histology showed greater inflammation in aged OVA-mice than in young OVA-mice. MUC-5AC expression and numbers of PAS+ staining bronchial epithelial cells were significantly increased in the aged OVA-mice. All aged OVA-mice had increased IL-5 and IFN-γ mRNA expression in the lung and IL-5 and IFN-γ protein levels from spleen cell cultures compared to young OVA-mice. OVA-IgE was elevated to a greater extent in aged OVA-mice.
Although pulmonary inflammation and mucus-metaplasia after antigen sensitization/challenge occurred to a greater degree in older mice, the increase in AHR was significantly less compared with younger OVA-mice. Antigen treatment produced a unique cytokine profile in older mice (elevated IFN-γ and IL-5) compared with young mice (elevated IL-4 and IL-13). Thus, the airway response to inflammation is lessened in aging animals, and may represent age-associated events leading to different phenotypes in response to antigen provocation.
PMCID: PMC2818115  PMID: 17845421
Aging; murine; asthma; airway hyperresponsiveness; eosinophil; inflammation
9.  The Metalloporphyrin Antioxidant, MnTE-2-PyP, Inhibits Th2 Cell Immune Responses in an Asthma Model 
MnTE-2-PyP, a superoxide dismutase mimetic, inhibited OVA-induced airway inflammation in mice suggesting an effect on Th2 responsiveness. Thus, we hypothesized that MnTE-2-PyP may alter dendritic cell-Th2 interactions. Bone marrow derived dendritic cells (DC) and OVA323–339-specific Th2 cells were cultured separately in the presence or absence of MnTE-2-PyP for 3 days prior to the co-culturing of the two cell types in the presence of an OVA323–339 peptide and in some cases stimulated with CD3/CD28. MnTE-2-PyP-pretreated DC inhibited IL-4, IL-5 and IFNγ production and inhibited Th2 cell proliferation in the DC-Th2 co-culturing system in the presence of the OVA323–339 peptide. Similar results were obtained using the CD3/CD28 cell-activation system; the addition of MnTE-2-PyP inhibited Th2 cell proliferation. MnTE-2-PyP suppressed CD25 expression on OVA-specific Th2 cells, which implied that MnTE-2-PyP can inhibit the activation of Th2 cells. MnTE-2-PyP also down-regulated co-stimulatory molecules: CD40, CD80 and CD86 on immature DC. Our studies suggest that the major mechanism by which MnTE-2-PyP inhibits airway inflammation is by acting on the DC and suppressing Th2 cell proliferation and activation.
PMCID: PMC3431828  PMID: 22949830
MnTE-2-PyP; OVA; dendritic cells; Th2 cells; asthma; inflammation
10.  Lunasin Alleviates Allergic Airway Inflammation while Increases Antigen-Specific Tregs 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0115330.
Lunasin is a naturally occurring peptide isolated from soybeans and has been explored in cancer treatment. Lunasin inhibits NF-κB activation and thus pro-inflammatory cytokine and mediator production in macrophages. In this study we demonstrate that lunasin can effectively suppress allergic airway inflammation in two murine models of asthma. In an OVA+Alum sensitization model, intranasal lunasin treatment at the time of OVA challenges significantly reduced total cells counts in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and eosinophilia, peribronchiolar inflammatory infiltration, goblet cell metaplasia and airway IL-4 production. In an OVA+LPS intranasal sensitization model, lunasin treatment either at the time of sensitization or challenge has similar effects in suppress allergic airway inflammation including significantly reduced total cell and eosinophil counts in BAL fluid, inflammatory gene Fizz1 expression in the lung, and IL-4 production by OVA re-stimulated cells from mediastinal lymph nodes. We further show that intranasal instillation of OVA+lunasin significantly increases OVA-specific regulatory T cell (Treg) accumulation in the lung comparing to OVA only treatment. Taken together, our results suggest lunasin as an anti-inflammatory agent can be potentially used in asthma therapy or as an adjuvant to enhance the induction of antigen-specific Tregs and thus boost the efficacy of allergy immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4315393  PMID: 25646897
11.  Neuroimmune semaphorin 4A downregulates the severity of allergic response 
Mucosal immunology  2012;5(4):409-419.
To define the role of Sema4A in allergic response, we employed Sema4A−/− and WT mice in the experimental model of OVA-induced allergic airway inflammation. We observed a selective increase in eosinophilic airway infiltration accompanied by bronchial epithelial cell hyperplasia in allergen-treated Sema4A−/− mice relative to WT mice. This enhanced inflammatory response was associated with a selective increase in BAL IL-13 content, augmented airway hyperreactivity, and lower Treg numbers. In vivo allergen-primed Sema4A−/− CD4+ T cells were more effective in transferring Th2 response to naïve mice as compared to WT CD4+ T cells. T cell proliferation and IL-13 productions in OVA323–339 - restimulated Sema4A−/− cell cultures were upregulated. Generated bone marrow chimeras showed an equal importance of both lung resident cell and inflammatory cell Sema4A expression in optimal disease regulation. These data provide a new insight into Sema4A biology and define Sema4A as an important regulator of Th2-driven lung pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3378810  PMID: 22472774
12.  TLR-2 Activation Induces Regulatory T Cells and Long-Term Suppression of Asthma Manifestations in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55307.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable airway obstruction and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The T regulatory (Treg) cell subset is critically important for the regulation of immune responses. Adoptive transfer of Treg cells has been shown to be sufficient for the suppression of airway inflammation in experimental allergic asthma. Intervention strategies aimed at expanding the Treg cell population locally in the airways of sensitized individuals are therefore of high interest as a potential therapeutic treatment for allergic airway disease. Here, we aim to test whether long-term suppression of asthma manifestations can be achieved by locally expanding the Treg cell subset via intranasal administration of a TLR-2 agonist. To model therapeutic intervention aimed at expanding the endogenous Treg population in a sensitized host, we challenged OVA-sensitized mice by OVA inhalation with concomitant intranasal instillation of the TLR-2 agonist Pam3Cys, followed by an additional series of OVA challenges. Pam3Cys treatment induced an acute but transient aggravation of asthma manifestations, followed by a reduction or loss of AHR to methacholine, depending on the time between Pam3Cys treatment and OVA challenges. In addition, Pam3Cys-treatment induced significant reductions of eosinophils and increased numbers of Treg cells in the lung infiltrates. Our data show that, despite having adverse acute effects, TLR2 agonist treatment as a therapeutic intervention induces an expansion of the Treg cell population in the lungs and results in long-term protection against manifestation of allergic asthma upon subsequent allergen provocation. Our data indicate that local expansion of Tregs in allergic airway disease is an interesting therapeutic approach that warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3564817  PMID: 23393567
13.  Concomitant Exposure to Ovalbumin and Endotoxin Augments Airway Inflammation but Not Airway Hyperresponsiveness in a Murine Model of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98648.
Varying concentrations of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in ovalbumin (OVA) may influence the airway response to allergic sensitization and challenge. We assessed the contribution of LPS to allergic airway inflammatory responses following challenge with LPS-rich and LPS-free commercial OVA. BALB/c mice were sensitized with LPS-rich OVA and alum and then underwent challenge with the same OVA (10 µg intranasally) or an LPS-free OVA. Following challenge, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), airway responsiveness to methacholine and the lung regulatory T cell population (Treg) were assessed. Both OVA preparations induced BAL eosinophilia but LPS-rich OVA also evoked BAL neutrophilia. LPS-free OVA increased interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4 and IL-5 whereas LPS-rich OVA additionally increased IL-1β, IL-12, IFN-γ, TNF-α and KC. Both OVA-challenged groups developed airway hyperresponsiveness. TLR4-deficient mice challenged with either OVA preparation showed eosinophilia but not neutrophilia and had increased IL-5. Only LPS-rich OVA challenged mice had increased lung Tregs and LPS-rich OVA also induced in vitro Treg differentiation. LPS-rich OVA also induced a Th1 cytokine response in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.We conclude that LPS-rich OVA evokes mixed Th1, Th2 and innate immune responses through the TLR-4 pathway, whereas LPS-free OVA evokes only a Th2 response. Contaminating LPS is not required for induction of airway hyperresponsiveness but amplifies the Th2 inflammatory response and is a critical mediator of the neutrophil, Th1 and T regulatory cell responses to OVA.
PMCID: PMC4072597  PMID: 24968337
14.  STAT6 Expression in Multiple Cell Types Mediates the Cooperative Development of Allergic Airway Disease 
Th2 cells induce asthma through the secretion of cytokines. Two such cytokines, IL-4 and IL-13, are critical mediators of many features of this disease. They both share a common receptor subunit, IL-4Rα, and signal through the STAT6 pathway. STAT6−/− mice have impaired Th2 differentiation and reduced airway response to allergen. Transferred Th2 cells were not able to elicit eosinophilia in response to OVA in STAT6−/− mice. To clarify the role of STAT6 in allergic airway inflammation, we generated mouse bone marrow (BM) chimeras. We observed little to no eosinophilia in OVA-treated STAT6−/− mice even when STAT6+/+ BM or Th2 cells were provided. However, when Th2 cells were transferred to STAT6×Rag2−/− mice, we observed an eosinophilic response to OVA. Nevertheless, the expression of STAT6 on either BM-derived cells or lung resident cells enhanced the severity of OVA-induced eosinophilia. Moreover, when both the BM donor and recipient lacked lymphocytes, transferred Th2 cells were sufficient to induce the level of eosinophilia comparable with that of wild-type (WT) mice. The expression of STAT6 in BM-derived cells was more critical for the enhanced eosinophilic response. Furthermore, we found a significantly higher number of CD4+CD25+ Foxp3+ T cells (regulatory T cells [Tregs]) in PBS- and OVA-treated STAT6−/− mouse lungs compared with that in WT animals suggesting that STAT6 limits both naturally occurring and Ag-induced Tregs. Tregs obtained from either WT or STAT6−/− mice were equally efficient in suppressing CD4+ T cell proliferation in vitro. Taken together, our studies demonstrate multiple STAT6-dependent and -independent features of allergic inflammation, which may impact treatments targeting STAT6.
PMCID: PMC3139332  PMID: 21242523
15.  120 The Features of Airway Remodeling Are More Severe in Female Mice 
Epidemiological studies have already shown that females are dominant in terms of the sex ratio of adult asthma prevalence and severe asthma. It has also been reported that female mice are more susceptible to the development of allergic airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) than males. However, there have been few reports of studies on sex difference in the pathogenesis of severe asthma, especially airway remodeling in an animal model. In this study, we investigated sex difference in formation of airway remodeling using a long-term antigen challenged asthma model.
Following ovalbumin (OVA)/alum intraperitoneal injection, male or female mice (BALB/c) were challenged with aerosolized 1% OVA on 3 days/week for 5 weeks, and we investigated the sex difference in AHR, airway inflammation, as well as airway remodeling.
In OVA-sensitized and -challenged (OVA/OVA) female mice, AHR, the number of eosinophils and lymphocytes, as well as Th2 cytokines and growth factors in BAL fluid were increased compared with OVA/OVA male mice. On the other hand, there is no significant difference in the level of eotaxin in BAL fluid. The histological features of airway remodeling, including goblet cell hyperplasia, subepithelial fibrosis and myofibroblast hypertrophy, were also increased in OVA/OVA female mice. Moreover, serum total and OVA-specific IgE were significantly elevated in OVA/OVA female mice.
These results indicate that female mice are dominant in terms of forming airway remodeling as compared with male mice. The involvement of sex difference for sensitization and growth factor release in lung tissue based on inflammatory cell infiltration is indicated for the mechanism of sex difference of airway remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3513133
16.  121 Ovalbumin-induced Bronchial Asthma is Compromised in Apoptosis Signal-Regulating Kinase-Deficient Mice 
Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a member of mitogen –activated protein (MAP) kinase kinase kinases (MAP3Ks) protein family, plays a crucial role in the induction of apoptosis and inflammation in some cell types. Allergic asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), inflammatory cell infiltration, and airway remodeling. In the present study, we examined whether ASK1 is involved in the induction of bronchial asthma using a mouse model of airway inflammation.
ASK1-deficient (ASK1−/−) and wild-type (WT) control mice were sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) in saline intraperitoneally on consecutive 7 days. Eighteen days later, mice received intranasal administration of OVA aerosol and were assayed for AHR, cytokine production, cell proliferation, antibody (Ab) production, and lung tissue histopathology at 24 hours after the last serial OVA administration. Levels of Ab and cytokines were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Control WT mice showed inflammatory infiltrates in airways in response to OVA to a greater extent than ASK1−/− mice. The number of cells, especially eosinophils accumulating in airways, was reduced in ASK1−/− mice relative to control mice. OVA-induced AHR is also compromised in ASK1−/− mice. Anti-OVA IgE Ab production in ASK1−/− mice was substantially reduced, although levels of other isotypes were comparable to those in control mice. Levels of some Th2 cytokines (IL-5 and IL-13) and pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-a in BAL fluid from ASK1−/− mice were substantially diminished relative to control, although a comparable level of a typical Th2 cytokine IL-4 and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 was produced. Although the BAL fluid TNF-a levels from ASK1−/− mice were severely diminished, lymph node cells from ASK1−/− mice produced comparable levels of TNF-a to WT in vitro. Intranasal administration of recombinant TNF-a caused a comparable increase in AHR between ASK1−/− and WT mice, whereas the TNF-a -induced accumulation of inflammatory cells was severely reduced in ASK1−/− mice.
ASK1 appears to be involved in the induction of OVA-induced bronchial asthma, probably through cytokine production such as TNF-a and IL-13. Moreover, TNF-a sensitivity in response to OVA is also regulated by ASK1.
PMCID: PMC3512814
17.  Engineered silica nanoparticles act as adjuvants to enhance allergic airway disease in mice 
With the increase in production and use of engineered nanoparticles (NP; ≤ 100 nm), safety concerns have risen about the potential health effects of occupational or environmental NP exposure. Results of animal toxicology studies suggest that inhalation of NP may cause pulmonary injury with subsequent acute or chronic inflammation. People with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma or allergic rhinitis may be even more susceptible to toxic effects of inhaled NP. Few studies, however, have investigated adverse effects of inhaled NP that may enhance the development of allergic airway disease.
We investigated the potential of polyethylene glycol coated amorphous silica NP (SNP; 90 nm diameter) to promote allergic airway disease when co-exposed during sensitization with an allergen. BALB/c mice were sensitized by intranasal instillation with 0.02% ovalbumin (OVA; allergen) or saline (control), and co-exposed to 0, 10, 100, or 400 μg of SNP. OVA-sensitized mice were then challenged intranasally with 0.5% OVA 14 and 15 days after sensitization, and all animals were sacrificed a day after the last OVA challenge. Blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were collected, and pulmonary tissue was processed for histopathology and biochemical and molecular analyses.
Co-exposure to SNP during OVA sensitization caused a dose-dependent enhancement of allergic airway disease upon challenge with OVA alone. This adjuvant-like effect was manifested by significantly greater OVA-specific serum IgE, airway eosinophil infiltration, mucous cell metaplasia, and Th2 and Th17 cytokine gene and protein expression, as compared to mice that were sensitized to OVA without SNP. In saline controls, SNP exposure did cause a moderate increase in airway neutrophils at the highest doses.
These results suggest that airway exposure to engineered SNP could enhance allergen sensitization and foster greater manifestation of allergic airway disease upon secondary allergen exposures. Whereas SNP caused innate immune responses at high doses in non-allergic mice, the adjuvant effects of SNP were found at lower doses in allergic mice and were Th2/Th17 related. In conclusion, these findings in mice suggest that individuals exposed to SNP might be more prone to manifest allergic airway disease, due to adjuvant-like properties of SNP.
PMCID: PMC3729411  PMID: 23815813
Silica nanoparticles; Adjuvant potential; Allergic airway disease; Th2/Th17 response; Murine ovalbumin model
18.  Cbl-b Regulates Airway Mucosal Tolerance to Aeroallergen 
As an E3 ubiquitin ligase and a molecular adaptor, Cbl-b controls the activation threshold of the antigen receptor and negatively regulates CD28 co-stimulation, functioning as an intrinsic mediator of T cell anergy that maintains tolerance. However, the role of Cbl-b in the airway immune response to aeroallergens is unclear.
To determine the contribution of Cbl-b in tolerance to aeroallergens, we examined ovalbumin (OVA)-induced lung inflammation in Cbl-b deficient mice.
Cbl-b-/- mice and wildtype (WT) C57BL/6 mice were sensitized and challenged with OVA intranasally, a procedure normally tolerated by WT mice. We analyzed lung histology, BAL total cell counts and differential, cytokines and chemokines in the airway, and cytokine response by lymphocytes after re-stimulation by OVA antigen.
Compared with WT mice, OVA challenged Cbl-b-/- mice showed significantly increased neutrophilic and eosinophilic infiltration in the lung and mucus hyperplasia. The serum levels of IgG2a and IgG1, but not IgE, were increased. The levels of inflammatory mediators IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, IP-10, MCP-1, MIP-1α, Eotaxin, and RANTES, but not IL-17A or IL-6, were elevated in the airway of Cbl-b-/- mice. Lymphocytes from Cbl-b-/-mice released increased amount of IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-13, and IP-10 in response to OVA re-stimulation. However, no significant changes were noted in the CD4+CD25+ Treg cell populations in the lung tissues after OVA stimulation and there was no difference between WT and Cbl-b-/- mice.
These results demonstrate that Cbl-b deficiency leads to a breakdown of tolerance to OVA allergen in the murine airways, probably through increased activation of T effector cells, indicating that Cbl-b is a critical factor in maintaining lung homeostasis upon environmental exposure to aeroallergens.
PMCID: PMC2994994  PMID: 20738317
Cbl-b; Ubiquitin E3 Ligase; Aeroallergen; Allergic inflammation; Asthma
19.  Exaggerated IL-17 response to epicutaneous sensitization mediates airway inflammation in the absence of IL-4 and IL-13 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by local and systemic Th2 responses to cutaneously introduced allergens and is a risk factor for asthma. Blockade of Th2 cytokines has been suggested as therapy for AD.
To examine the effect of the absence of IL-4 and IL-13 on the Th-17 response to epicutaneous (EC) sensitization in a mouse model of allergic skin inflammation with features of AD.
Wild-type (WT), IL-4KO, IL-13KO and IL-4/13 double KO (DKO) mice were subjected to EC sensitization with ovalbumin (OVA) or saline and airway challenged with OVA. Systemic immune responses to OVA, skin and airway inflammation, and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) were examined.
OVA sensitized DKO mice exhibited impaired Th2 driven responses with undetectable OVA specific IgE and severely diminished eosinophil infiltration at sensitized skin sites, but intact dermal infiltration with CD4+ cells. DKO mice mounted an exaggerated IL-17A, but normal IFN-γ and IL-5 systemic responses. Airway challenge of these mice with OVA caused marked upregulation of IL-17 mRNA expression in the lungs, increased neutrophilia in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), airway inflammation characterized by mononuclear cell infiltration with no detectable eosinophils, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to methacholine that were reversed by IL-17 blockade. IL-4, but not IL-13, was identified as the major Th2 cytokine that downregulates the IL-17 response in EC sensitized mice.
EC sensitization in the absence of IL-4/IL-13 induces an exaggerated Th17 response systemically, and in lungs following antigen challenge that results in airway inflammation and AHR.
Clinical implications
Blockade of IL-4 may promote IL-17-mediated airway inflammation in AD.
PMCID: PMC2895457  PMID: 19815118
IL-17; Th2 cytokines; atopic dermatitis; asthma
20.  TGF-β-induced Myelin Peptide-Specific Regulatory T Cells Mediate Antigen-Specific Suppression of Induction of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis1 
The low number of natural regulatory T cells (nTreg cells) in the circulation specific for a particular antigen and concerns about the bystander suppressive capacity of expanded nTregs presents a major clinical challenge for nTreg-based therapeutic treatment of autoimmune diseases. In the present study, we demonstrate that naïve CD4+CD25-Foxp3- T cells specific for the myelin proteolipid protein (PLP)139-151 peptide, can be converted into CD25+Foxp3+ induced Treg cells (iTreg cells) when stimulated in the presence of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), retinoic acid and interleukin-2. These PLP139-151-specific iTreg cells (139-iTreg cells) have a phenotype similar to natural Treg cells, but additionally express an intermediate level of CD62L and a high level of CD103. Upon transfer into SJL/J mice, 139-iTreg cells undergo antigen-driven proliferation and are effective at suppressing induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis induced by the cognate PLP139-151 peptide, but not PLP178-191 or a mixture of the two peptides. Furthermore, 139-iTregs inhibit delayed-type-hypersensitivity (DTH) responses to PLP139-151, but not PLP178-191, MOG35-55 or OVA323-339 in mice primed with a mixture of PLP139-151 and the other respective peptides. Additionally, 139-iTreg cells suppress the proliferation and activation of PLP139-151-, but not MOG35-55-specific CD4+ T cells in SJL/B6 F1 mice primed with a combination of PLP139-151 and MOG35-55. These findings suggest that antigen-specific-iTreg cells are amplified in vivo when exposed to cognate antigen under inflammatory conditions, and these activated iTreg cells suppress CD4+ responder T cells in an antigen-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC2882517  PMID: 20483764
21.  Acrolein exposure suppresses antigen-induced pulmonary inflammation 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):107.
Adverse health effects of tobacco smoke arise partly from its influence on innate and adaptive immune responses, leading to impaired innate immunity and host defense. The impact of smoking on allergic asthma remains unclear, with various reports demonstrating that cigarette smoke enhances asthma development but can also suppress allergic airway inflammation. Based on our previous findings that immunosuppressive effects of smoking may be largely attributed to one of its main reactive electrophiles, acrolein, we explored the impact of acrolein exposure in a mouse model of ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergic asthma.
C57BL/6 mice were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) by intraperitoneal injection with the adjuvant aluminum hydroxide on days 0 and 7, and challenged with aerosolized OVA on days 14–16. In some cases, mice were also exposed to 5 ppm acrolein vapor for 6 hrs/day on days 14–17. Lung tissues or brochoalveolar lavage fluids (BALF) were collected either 6 hrs after a single initial OVA challenge and/or acrolein exposure on day 14 or 48 hrs after the last OVA challenge, on day 18. Inflammatory cells and Th1/Th2 cytokine levels were measured in BALF, and lung tissue samples were collected for analysis of mucus and Th1/Th2 cytokine expression, determination of protein alkylation, cellular thiol status and transcription factor activity.
Exposure to acrolein following OVA challenge of OVA-sensitized mice resulted in markedly attenuated allergic airway inflammation, demonstrated by decreased inflammatory cell infiltrates, mucus hyperplasia and Th2 cytokines. Acrolein exposure rapidly depleted lung tissue glutathione (GSH) levels, and induced activation of the Nrf2 pathway, indicated by accumulation of Nrf2, increased alkylation of Keap1, and induction of Nrf2-target genes such as HO-1. Additionally, analysis of inflammatory signaling pathways showed suppressed activation of NF-κB and marginally reduced activation of JNK in acrolein-exposed lungs, associated with increased carbonylation of RelA and JNK.
Acrolein inhalation suppresses Th2-driven allergic inflammation in sensitized animals, due to direct protein alkylation resulting in activation of Nrf2 and anti-inflammatory gene expression, and inhibition of NF-κB or JNK signaling. Our findings help explain the paradoxical anti-inflammatory effects of cigarette smoke exposure in allergic airways disease.
PMCID: PMC3852782  PMID: 24131734
Cigarette smoke; Electrophile; Inflammation; Asthma; COPD; Nrf2; NF-κB; JNK
22.  Oral Administration of T Cell Epitope Peptide Inhibits the Systemic IL-4 Response Elicited by an Egg-White Diet in a TCR Transgenic Mouse Model 
Oral immunotherapy with T cell epitope peptides is a promising treatment for food allergy. We examined the effect of oral administration of an ovalbumin T cell epitope peptide (OVA323-339) in a TCR transgenic mouse model (OVA23-3 mice). OVA23-3 mice were fed egg-white diet containing ovalbumin and subsequently orally administrated the OVA323-339 peptide. Cytokine measurements revealed that the IL-4 production of splenic CD4+ T cells was significantly decreased by feeding the OVA323-339 peptide. Our study suggested that oral administration of the OVA323-339 T cell epitope peptide was capable of inhibiting systemic IL-4 response after elicitation of predominant Th2 responses.
PMCID: PMC4034323  PMID: 24936382
food allergy; oral immunotherapy; ovalbumin; T cell epitope; TCR transgenic mice
23.  Regulatory T-Cell (Treg) Hybridoma as a Novel Tool to Study Foxp3 Regulation and Treg Fate1 
Journal of autoimmunity  2011;37(2):113-121.
The CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells (Treg) that had lost CD25 and Foxp3 in vivo (ex-Treg) exist but are difficult to study. We generated antigen (Ag)-specific Treg hybridomas from iTreg clones (iTreg-hyb) using iTreg of DO11.10.Foxp3-GFP mice and presented evidence that they behave like ex-Treg. The iTreg-hyb displayed little CD25 and Foxp3-GFP but strong expression could be induced with OVA323–339 in the presence of Ag-presenting cells, rIL-2 and rTGF-β1. They displayed all of the iTreg-associated markers examined except CTLA-4, the latter was also absent in the ex-Treg. They lacked the Helios transcription factor, suggesting they were derived from iTreg. Similar to ex-Treg, the iTreg-hyb produced high level of IL-2 and Foxp3 under specific activation conditions. Two unusual properties were observed. First, the ability to induce Foxp3-GFP upon activation is progressively lost in culture over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. Second, Rag2−/− spleen cells alone selectively induced Foxp3-GFP expression albeit 30 times less efficient than Ag-specific activation. We identified cell-free supernatant, IL-6, IL-9, and IL-27 as Foxp3-inducing factors. Our study has significant implications to the stability, plasticity and fate of Treg. The usefulness and limitation of iTreg-hyb as a novel tool to study Foxp3 regulation and the fate of specific Treg subsets are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3173573  PMID: 21621978
Foxp3; Hybridoma; Cytokines; Regulatory T-cell fate
24.  Eosinophil recruitment to the lung in a murine model of allergic inflammation. The role of T cells, chemokines, and adhesion receptors. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;98(10):2332-2345.
Eosinophil accumulation is a distinctive feature of lung allergic inflammation. Here, we have used a mouse model of OVA (ovalbumin)-induced pulmonary eosinophilia to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms for this selective recruitment of eosinophils to the airways. In this model there was an early accumulation of infiltrating monocytes/macrophages in the lung during the OVA treatment, whereas the increase in infiltrating T-lymphocytes paralleled the accumulation of eosinophils. The kinetics of accumulation of these three leukocyte subtypes correlated with the levels of mRNA expression of the chemokines monocyte chemotactic peptide-1/JE, eotaxin, and RANTES (regulated upon activation in normal T cells expressed and secreted), suggesting their involvement in the recruitment of these leukocytes. Furthermore, blockade of eotaxin with specific antibodies in vivo reduced the accumulation of eosinophils in the lung in response to OVA by half. Mature CD4+ T-lymphocytes were absolutely required for OVA-induced eosinophil accumulation since lung eosinophilia was prevented in CD4+-deficient mice. However, these cells were neither the main producers of the major eosinophilic chemokines eotaxin, RANTES, or MIP-1alpha, nor did they regulate the expression of these chemokines. Rather, the presence of CD4+ T cells was necessary for enhancement of VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule-1) expression in the lung during allergic inflammation induced by the OVA treatment. In support of this, mice genetically deficient for VCAM-1 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 failed to develop pulmonary eosinophilia. Selective eosinophilic recruitment during lung allergic inflammation results from a sequential accumulation of certain leukocyte types, particularly T cells, and relies on the presence of both eosinophilic chemoattractants and adhesion receptors.
PMCID: PMC507684  PMID: 8941651
25.  Echinococcus granulosus infection reduces airway inflammation of mice likely through enhancing IL-10 and down-regulation of IL-5 and IL-17A 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7(1):522.
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a near cosmopolitan zoonosis caused by the larval stage of the dog tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. E. granulosus infection induces a polarized T-helper type 2 (Th2) systematic immune response in its intermediate hosts. However, it is not known whether the infection modulates lung inflammation by regulating local immune response. In this study, we examined the effects of E. granulosus infection on mouse ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthma model.
BALB/c mice were intraperitoneally transplanted with 50 small E. granulosus cysts cultured in vitro. At 3 months post-inoculation, the mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA). For histopathological studies, hematoxylin eosin and periodic acid schiff staining was used to examine the inflammatory cells infiltration and goblet cells hyperplasia, respectively. Cytokine levels were measured by mouse cytometric bead array (CBA) Kit and quantitative RT-PCR and other molecular biological approaches. Airway hyperresponsiveness was assessed in response to increasing doses of methacholine. Serum immunoglobulins were determined by ELISA.
E. granulosus infection significantly increased Th2 and Treg cytokine levels in serum and lung tissues, but down-regulated the expression of IL-5 in the lungs and IL-17A in serum and lung tissues of asthmatic mice sensitized and challenged with OVA. Histological staining of lung tissues showed that E. granulosus infection significantly reduced the severity of OVA-induced airway inflammation including reduction of eosinophil cell infiltration and mucus production. The E. granulosus infection also reduced eosinophil accumulation induced by OVA in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and also ameliorated airway hyperresponsiveness, a hallmark symptom of asthma.
E. granulosus infection remarkably reduces the severity of OVA-induced airway inflammation likely through enhancing IL-10 and down-regulation of IL-5 and IL-17A.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-014-0522-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4256745  PMID: 25409540
Allergic asthma; Echinococcus granulosus; Cystic echinococcosis; IL-5; IL-10; IL-17A; Airway inflammation

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