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1.  Antibodies against domain E3 of laminin-1 and integrin alpha 6 subunit perturb branching epithelial morphogenesis of submandibular gland, but by different modes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1995;129(2):521-534.
Branching epithelial morphogenesis requires interactions between the surrounding mesenchyme and the epithelium, as well as interactions between basement membrane components and the epithelium. Embryonic submandibular gland was used to study the roles of two mesenchymal proteins, epimorphin and tenascin-C, as well as the epithelial protein laminin-1 and one of its integrin receptors on branching morphogenesis. Laminin-1 is a heterotrimer composed of an alpha 1 chain and two smaller chains (beta 1 and gamma 1). Immunofluorescence revealed a transient expression of laminin alpha 1 chain in the epithelial basement membrane during early stages of branching morphogenesis. Other laminin-1 chains and alpha 6, beta 1, and beta 4 integrin subunits seemed to be expressed constitutively. Expression of epimorphin, but not tenascin-C, was seen in the mesenchyme during early developmental stages, but a mAb against epimorphin did not perturb branching morphogenesis of this early epithelium. In contrast, inhibition of branching morphogenesis was seen with a mAb against the carboxy terminus of laminin alpha 1 chain, the E3 domain. An inhibition of branching was also seen with a mAb against the integrin alpha 6 subunit. The antibodies against laminin alpha 1 chain and integrin alpha 6 subunit perturbed development in distinct fashions. Whereas treatment with the anti-E3 resulted in discontinuities of the basement membrane at the tips of the branching epithelium, treatment with the mAb against alpha 6 integrin subunit seemed to leave the basement membrane intact. We suggest that the laminin E3 domain is involved in basement membrane formation, whereas alpha 6 beta 1 integrin binding to laminin-1 may elicit differentiation signals to the epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2199919  PMID: 7536749
2.  The site of disruption of the bronchial epithelium in asthmatic and non-asthmatic subjects. 
Thorax  1992;47(7):499-503.
BACKGROUND: Attention has recently been focused on the basal cells of the tracheobronchial epithelium as the mechanism of anchorage of the tall columnar cells, which themselves do not appear to form hemidesmosomes with the basement membrane of the epithelium. Residual basal cells have been described as remaining attached to the basement membrane after epithelial denudation. This led this group to formulate the hypothesis that there may be a potential plane of cleavage between the basal cells and the overlying columnar cell layer within the bronchial epithelium, which becomes disrupted in asthma. METHODS: Bronchoalveolar lavage samples were obtained during bronchoscopy from eight patients with atopic asthma and four normal controls. Ultrathin sections of lavage cell pellets were examined by electron microscopy and the number of columnar and basal cells found in each epithelial cell cluster was counted. Cytocentrifuge preparations of the lavage samples from the same subjects were also examined for free epithelial cells and epithelial cell clusters. RESULTS: Electron microscopic examination of the cell pellets showed that basal cells were present in very small numbers in the epithelial clusters in all subjects (mean 0.03 (SE 0.02)/cluster) and the ratio of columnar cells to basal cells was far greater than was encountered in the intact bronchial epithelium (167 nu 4). The cytocentrifuge preparations showed an increased number of epithelial cell clusters and epithelial cells in the asthmatic patients. Although these clusters were similar in size in the two groups of subjects (6.3 nu 5.1 cells/cluster) the ratio of free epithelial cells to cells within the cluster was higher in the non-asthmatic subjects. CONCLUSIONS: It is proposed that shedding of epithelial cells occurs along a suprabasal plane and that there is a potential plane of cleavage between the suprabasal and the basal cell layers, which might be more vulnerable to the various insults.
PMCID: PMC463857  PMID: 1412091
3.  Human amnion contains a novel laminin variant, laminin 7, which like laminin 6, covalently associates with laminin 5 to promote stable epithelial-stromal attachment 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1996;132(6):1189-1198.
Stable attachment of external epithelia to the basement membrane and underlying stroma is mediated by transmembrane proteins such as the integrin alpha6beta4 and bullous pemphigoid antigen 2 within the hemidesmosomes along the basolateral surface of the epithelial cell and their ligands that include a specialized subfamily of laminins. The laminin 5 molecule (previously termed kalinin/nicein/epiligrin) is a member of this epithelial-specific subfamily. Laminin 5 chains are not only considerably truncated within domains III-VI, but are also extensively proteolytically processed in vitro and in vivo. As a result, the domains expected to be required for the association of laminins with other basement membrane components are lacking in the mature laminin 5 molecule. Therefore, the tight binding of laminin 5 to the basement membrane may occur by a unique mechanism. To examine laminin 5 in tissue, we chose human amnion as the source, because of its availability and the similarity of the amniotic epithelial basement membrane with that of skin. We isolated the laminin 5 contained within the basement membrane of human amnion. In addition to monomeric laminin 5, we find that much of the laminin 5 isolated is covalently adducted with laminin 6 (alpha3beta1gamma1) and a novel laminin isotype we have termed laminin 7 (alpha3beta2gamma1). We propose that the association between laminin 5 and laminins 6 and 7 is a mechanism used in amnion to allow stable association of laminin 5 with the basement membrane. The beta2 chain is seen at the human amniotic epithelial-stromal interface and at the dermal-epidermal junction of fetal and adult bovine skin by immunofluorescence, but is not present, or only weakly present, in neonatal human skin.
PMCID: PMC2120759  PMID: 8601594
4.  New insights into the role of cytokines in asthma 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2001;54(8):577-589.
Asthma is a triad of intermittent airway obstruction, bronchial smooth muscle cell hyperreactivity to bronchoconstrictors, and chronic bronchial inflammation. From an aetiological standpoint, asthma is a heterogenous disease, but often appears as a form of immediate hypersensitivity. Many patients with asthma have other manifestations of atopy, such as rhinitis or eczema. Even among non-atopic patients with asthma, the pathophysiology of airway constriction is similar, raising the hypothesis that alternative mechanisms of mast cell degranulation may underlie the disease. The primary inflammatory lesion of asthma consists of accumulation of CD4+ T helper type 2 (TH2) lymphocytes and eosinophils in the airway mucosa. TH2 cells orchestrate the asthmatic inflammation through the secretion of a series of cytokines, particularly interleukin 4 (IL-4), IL-13, IL-5, and IL-9. IL-4 is the major factor regulating IgE production by B cells, and is required for optimal TH2 differentiation. However, blocking IL-4 is not sufficient to inhibit the development of asthma in experimental models. In contrast, inhibition of IL-13, another TH2 cytokine whose signal transduction pathway overlaps with that of IL-4, completely blocks airway hyperreactivity in mouse asthma models. IL-5 is a key factor for eosinophilia and could therefore be responsible for some of the tissue damage seen in chronic asthma. IL-9 has pleiotropic activities on allergic mediators such as mast cells, eosinophils, B cells and epithelial cells, and might be a good target for therapeutic interventions. Finally, chemokines, which can be produced by many cell types from inflamed lungs, play a major role in recruiting the mediators of asthmatic inflammation. Genetic studies have demonstrated that multiple genes are involved in asthma. Several genome wide screens point to chromosome 5q31–33 as a major susceptibility locus for asthma and high IgE values. This region includes a cluster of cytokine genes, and genes encoding IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-9, IL-13, granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, and the ß chain of IL-12. Interestingly, for some of these cytokines, a linkage was also established between asthma and their receptor. Another susceptibility locus has been mapped on chromosome 12 in a region that contains other potential candidate cytokine genes, including the gene encoding interferon γ, the prototypical TH1 cytokine with inhibitory activities for TH2 lymphocytes. Taken together, both experimental and genetic studies point to TH2 cytokines, such as IL-4, IL-13, IL-5, and IL-9, as important targets for therapeutic applications in patients with asthma.
Key Words: asthma • cytokines • interleukins • treatment of asthma • interferon γ
PMCID: PMC1731485  PMID: 11477111
5.  Local expansion of allergen-specific CD30+Th2-type gamma delta T cells in bronchial asthma. 
Molecular Medicine  1995;1(7):821-826.
BACKGROUND: T lymphocytes infiltrating airways during the allergic immune response play a fundamental role in recruiting other specialized cells, such as eosinophils, by secreting interleukin 5 (IL-5), and promoting local and systemic IgE synthesis by producing IL-4. Whether these presumed allergen-specific T cells are of mucosal or systemic origin is still a matter of conjecture. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Immunophenotype, IL-4 production, and in vitro proliferative response to specific or unrelated allergens were analyzed in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid lymphocyte suspensions obtained from untreated patients with allergic asthma. Healthy subjects and patients affected by pulmonary sarcoidosis, a granulomatous lung disease characterized by infiltrating Th1 CD4+ lymphocytes, served as controls. RESULTS: The proportions of gamma delta T lymphocytes, mostly CD4+ or CD4- (-)CD8-, was higher in asthmatic subjects than in controls (p < 0.05). Most BAL gamma delta CD4+ lymphocytes of asthmatic patients displayed the T cell receptor (TCR)-gamma delta V delta 1 chain. While CD30 antigen coexpression on the surface of BAL alpha beta(+) T lymphocytes was low (ranging from 5 to 12%), about half of pulmonary gamma delta T cells coexpressed it. These cells produced IL-4 and negligible amounts of interferon-gamma (IFN gamma), and proliferated in vitro in response to purified specific but not unrelated allergens. In contrast, control or sarcoidosis gamma delta T cells never displayed the CD30 surface molecule or produced significant quantities of IL-4. CONCLUSIONS: These findings not only confirm our previous hypothesis that the allergen-specific Th2-type lymphocytes found in the lungs of asthmatic patients are gamma delta T cells belonging to airway mucosal immunocytes, but also strongly support the notion that asthma is a local rather than a systemic disease.
PMCID: PMC2230008  PMID: 8612204
6.  Influenza enhances caspase-1 in bronchial epithelial cells from asthmatics and is associated with pathogenesis 
The leading cause of asthma exacerbation is respiratory viral infection. Innate antiviral defense pathways are altered in the asthmatic epithelium, yet involvement of inflammasome signaling in virus-induced asthma exacerbation is not known.
To compare influenza-induced activation of inflammasome and innate immune signaling in human bronchial epithelial cells from asthmatics and non-asthmatics and investigate the role of caspase-1 in epithelial cell antiviral defense.
Differentiated primary human bronchial epithelial cells from asthmatics and non-asthmatics were infected with influenza A virus. An inflammasome-specific quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction array was used to compare baseline and influenza-induced gene expression profiles. Cytokine secretion, innate immune gene expression, and viral replication were compared between human bronchial epithelial cells from asthmatics and non-asthmatics. Immunofluorescence microscopy was used to evaluate caspase-1 and PYCARD co-localization. Tracheal epithelial cells from caspase-1 deficient or wildtype mice were infected with influenza and assessed for antiviral gene expression and viral replication.
Human bronchial epithelial cells from asthmatics had altered influenza-induced expression of inflammasome-related and innate immune signaling components, which correlated with enhanced production of interlukin-1β, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α. Specifically, influenza-induced caspase-1 expression was enhanced and localization differed in human bronchial epithelial cells from asthmatics compared to non-asthmatics. Influenza-infected tracheal epithelial cells from caspase-1 deficient mice had reduced expression of antiviral genes and viral replication.
Caspase-1 plays an important role in the airway epithelial cell response to influenza infection, which is enhanced in asthmatics and may contribute to the enhanced influenza related pathogenesis observed in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3470476  PMID: 23021143
epithelial cell; asthma; influenza; antiviral; inflammasome; caspase-1; innate immunity
7.  Directional Secretory Response of Double Stranded RNA-Induced Thymic Stromal Lymphopoetin (TSLP) and CCL11/Eotaxin-1 in Human Asthmatic Airways 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115398.
Thymic stromal lymphoproetin (TSLP) is a cytokine secreted by the airway epithelium in response to respiratory viruses and it is known to promote allergic Th2 responses in asthma. This study investigated whether virally-induced secretion of TSLP is directional in nature (apical vs. basolateral) and/or if there are TSLP-mediated effects occurring at both sides of the bronchial epithelial barrier in the asthmatic state.
Primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC) from control (n = 3) and asthmatic (n = 3) donors were differentiated into polarized respiratory tract epithelium under air-liquid interface (ALI) conditions and treated apically with dsRNA (viral surrogate) or TSLP. Sub-epithelial effects of TSLP were examined in human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMC) from normal (n = 3) and asthmatic (n = 3) donors. Clinical experiments examined nasal airway secretions obtained from asthmatic children during naturally occurring rhinovirus-induced exacerbations (n = 20) vs. non-asthmatic uninfected controls (n = 20). Protein levels of TSLP, CCL11/eotaxin-1, CCL17/TARC, CCL22/MDC, TNF-α and CXCL8 were determined with a multiplex magnetic bead assay.
Our data demonstrate that: 1) Asthmatic HBEC exhibit an exaggerated apical, but not basal, secretion of TSLP after dsRNA exposure; 2) TSLP exposure induces unidirectional (apical) secretion of CCL11/eotaxin-1 in asthmatic HBEC and enhanced CCL11/eotaxin-1 secretion in asthmatic HASMC; 3) Rhinovirus-induced asthma exacerbations in children are associated with in vivo airway secretion of TSLP and CCL11/eotaxin-1.
There are virally-induced TSLP-driven secretory immune responses at both sides of the bronchial epithelial barrier characterized by enhanced CCL11/eotaxin-1 secretion in asthmatic airways. These results suggest a new model of TSLP-mediated eosinophilic responses in the asthmatic airway during viral-induced exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC4278901  PMID: 25546419
8.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
9.  Evaluation of airway inflammation by quantitative Th1/Th2 cytokine mRNA measurement in sputum of asthma patients 
Thorax  2006;61(3):202-208.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways driven by T cell activation. Th2 cells and their cytokines are thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of allergic as well as non‐allergic asthma.
Airway cells were obtained by sputum induction from 15 healthy and 39 asthmatic individuals and the airway T cell cytokine profiles (interleukin (IL)‐4, IL‐5, IL‐13, IL‐10 and interferon (IFN)‐γ) at the mRNA level were studied by real time RT‐PCR.
Asthma patients had increased expression of IL‐5 (p = 0.001) and IL‐13 (p = 0.03) mRNA in sputum compared with non‐asthmatic controls. IL‐4 mRNA and IFN‐γ mRNA were detectable in the sputum of 44% and 21% of patients, respectively, but not in controls. Sputum IL‐10 mRNA levels did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Sputum mRNA expression levels of IL‐4, IL‐5, and IL‐13 were significantly correlated with the percentage of eosinophils and were higher in subjects with allergic asthma than in those with non‐allergic asthma (p = 0.03, p = 0.02 and p = 0.0002, respectively); they did not differ between mild asthmatic subjects and those with moderate to severe asthma. In contrast, IFN‐γ mRNA expression was higher in non‐allergic than in allergic patients (p = 0.04) and higher in patients with moderate to severe asthma than in those with mild asthma (p<0.01). Sputum IL‐5 mRNA levels (but not the other cytokine mRNA levels) were also correlated with exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) and with bronchial hyperreactivity expressed as the histamine concentration resulting in a 20% decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 second.
Real time RT‐PCR analysis of mRNA in induced sputum confirms a predominance of Th2 cytokines in both allergic and non‐allergic asthma. IL‐5 levels reflect eosinophil infiltration as well as eNO levels and hyperreactivity, and levels of the Th1 cytokine IFN‐γ indicate asthma severity. The technique is a promising tool for use in further studies of asthma severity and disease activity.
PMCID: PMC2080739  PMID: 16449261
induced sputum; Th1/Th2 cytokines; asthma; severity
10.  The Impact of Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma on Human Nasal and Bronchial Epithelial Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80257.
The link between upper and lower airways in patients with both asthma and allergic rhinitis is still poorly understood. As the biological complexity of these disorders can be captured by gene expression profiling we hypothesized that the clinical expression of rhinitis and/or asthma is related to differential gene expression between upper and lower airways epithelium.
Defining gene expression profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from the same individuals and examining the impact of allergic rhinitis with and without concomitant allergic asthma on expression profiles.
This cross-sectional study included 18 subjects (6 allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis; 6 allergic rhinitis; 6 healthy controls). The estimated false discovery rate comparing 6 subjects per group was approximately 5%. RNA was extracted from isolated and cultured epithelial cells from bronchial brushings and nasal biopsies, and analyzed by microarray (Affymetrix U133+ PM Genechip Array). Data were analysed using R and Bioconductor Limma package. For gene ontology GeneSpring GX12 was used.
The study was successfully completed by 17 subjects (6 allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis; 5 allergic rhinitis; 6 healthy controls). Using correction for multiple testing, 1988 genes were differentially expressed between healthy lower and upper airway epithelium, whereas in allergic rhinitis with or without asthma this was only 40 and 301 genes, respectively. Genes influenced by allergic rhinitis with or without asthma were linked to lung development, remodeling, regulation of peptidases and normal epithelial barrier functions.
Differences in epithelial gene expression between the upper and lower airway epithelium, as observed in healthy subjects, largely disappear in patients with allergic rhinitis with or without asthma, whilst new differences emerge. The present data identify several pathways and genes that might be potential targets for future drug development.
PMCID: PMC3839950  PMID: 24282527
11.  Expression of surfactant protein D in airways of asthmatics and interleukin-13 modulation of surfactant protein D in human models of airway epithelium 
Respiratory Research  2015;16(1):26.
Surfactant protein D (SP-D), a pattern recognition molecule, has been shown to play roles in host defense such as opsonisation, aggregation of pathogens, and modulation of the inflammatory response. In light of infection-induced exacerbations and damage to the airway epithelium from inflammation, these functions of SP-D make it relevant in the development and pathogenesis of asthma.
Expression of SP-D was examined in human airway sections and primary airway epithelial cells (AEC) grown in air-liquid interface (ALI) cultures and comparisons were made between those from asthmatic and non-asthmatic donors. ALI cultures of AEC from non-asthmatic donors were examined for SP-D, Mucin 5AC, and cytokeratin-5 expression at different stages of differentiation. Interleukin-13 (IL-13) treatment of airway epithelium and its effect on SP-D expression was studied using ALI and monolayer cultures of primary AEC from non-asthmatic and asthmatic donors.
Airway epithelium of asthmatics, compared to that of non-asthmatics, expressed increased levels of SP-D as demonstrated in airway tissue sections (fraction of epithelium 0.66 ± 0.026 vs. 0.50 ± 0.043, p = 0.004) and ALI cultures (fraction of epithelium 0.50 ± 0.08 vs. 0.25 ± 0.07). SP-D expression decreased as ALI cultures differentiated from 7 days to 21 days (fraction of epithelium 0.62 ± 0.04 to 0.23 ± 0.03, p = 0.004). Treatment with IL-13 decreased SP-D expression in both ALI cultures (fraction of epithelium 0.21 ± 0.06 vs. 0.62 ± 0.04, p = 0.0005) and monolayer cultures (protein expression fold change 0.62 ± 0.05) of non-asthmatic AEC; however, IL-13 had no significant effect on SP-D expression in monolayer cultures of asthmatic AEC. Experiments with non-asthmatic monolayer cultures indicate IL-13 exert its effect on SP-D through the IL-13 receptor alpha1 and transcription factor STAT6.
SP-D is expressed differently in airways of asthmatics relative to that of non-asthmatics. This can have implications on the increased susceptibility to infections and altered inflammatory response in asthmatic patients. Future functional studies on the role of SP-D in asthma can provide better insight into defects in the structure and regulation of SP-D.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12931-015-0177-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4352233  PMID: 25848896
Surfactant protein D; Asthma; Airway epithelium; Air-liquid-interface; Interleukin-13
12.  GM-CSF production from human airway smooth muscle cells is potentiated by human serum. 
Mediators of Inflammation  2000;9(3-4):161-168.
Recent evidence suggests that airway smooth muscle cells (ASMC) actively participate in the airway inflammatory process in asthma. Interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) induce ASMC to release inflammatory mediators in vitro. ASMC mediator release in vivo, however, may be influenced by features of the allergic asthmatic phenotype. We determined whether; (1) allergic asthmatic serum (AAS) modulates ASMC mediator release in response to IL-1beta and TNF-alpha, and (2) IL-1beta/TNF-alpha prime ASMC to release mediators in response to AAS. IL-5 and GM-CSF were quantified by ELISA in culture supernatants of; (1) ASMC pre-incubated with either AAS, nonallergic non-asthmatic serum (NAS) or Monomed (a serum substitute) and subsequently stimulated with IL-1beta and TNF-alpha and (2) ASMC stimulated with IL-1beta/TNF-alpha and subsequently exposed to either AAS, NAS or Monomed. IL-1beta and TNF-alpha induced GM-CSF release in ASMC pre-incubated with AAS was not greater than that in ASMC pre-incubated with NAS or Monomed. IL-1beta and TNF-alpha, however, primed ASMC to release GM-CSF in response to human serum. GM-CSF production following IL-1beta/TNF-alpha and serum exposure (AAS or NAS) was significantly greater than that following IL-1beta/TNF-alpha and Monomed exposure or IL-1beta/TNF-alpha exposure only. Whilst the potentiating effects of human serum were not specific to allergic asthma, these findings suggest that the secretory capacity of ASMC may be up-regulated during exacerbations of asthma, where there is evidence of vascular leakage.
PMCID: PMC1781755  PMID: 11132773
13.  An ovine tracheal explant culture model for allergic airway inflammation 
The airway epithelium is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of asthmatic disease. However, much of our understanding of airway epithelial cell function in asthma has been derived from in vitro studies that may not accurately reflect the interactive cellular and molecular pathways active between different tissue constituents in vivo.
Using a sheep model of allergic asthma, tracheal explants from normal sheep and allergic sheep exposed to house dust mite (HDM) allergen were established to investigate airway mucosal responses ex vivo. Explants were cultured for up to 48 h and tissues were stained to identify apoptotic cells, goblet cells, mast cells and eosinophils. The release of cytokines (IL-1α, IL-6 and TNF-α) by cultured tracheal explants, was assessed by ELISA.
The general morphology and epithelial structure of the tracheal explants was well maintained in culture although evidence of advanced apoptosis within the mucosal layer was noted after culture for 48 h. The number of alcian blue/PAS positive mucus-secreting cells within the epithelial layer was reduced in all cultured explants compared with pre-cultured (0 h) explants, but the loss of staining was most evident in allergic tissues. Mast cell and eosinophil numbers were elevated in the allergic tracheal tissues compared to naïve controls, and in the allergic tissues there was a significant decline in mast cells after 24 h culture in the presence or absence of HDM allergen. IL-6 was released by allergic tracheal explants in culture but was undetected in cultured control explants.
Sheep tracheal explants maintain characteristics of the airway mucosa that may not be replicated when studying isolated cell populations in vitro. There were key differences identified in explants from allergic compared to control airways and in their responses in culture for 24 h. Importantly, this study establishes the potential for the application of tracheal explant cultures in relevant ex vivo investigations on the therapeutic and mechanistic modalities of asthmatic disease.
PMCID: PMC2940870  PMID: 20804555
14.  DNA Methylation Profiles of Airway Epithelial Cells and PBMCs from Healthy, Atopic and Asthmatic Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44213.
Allergic inflammation is commonly observed in a number of conditions that are associated with atopy including asthma, eczema and rhinitis. However, the genetic, environmental or epigenetic factors involved in these conditions are likely to be different. Epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation, can be influenced by the environment and result in changes to gene expression.
To characterize the DNA methylation pattern of airway epithelial cells (AECs) compared to peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and to discern differences in methylation within each cell type amongst healthy, atopic and asthmatic subjects.
PBMCs and AECs from bronchial brushings were obtained from children undergoing elective surgery for non-respiratory conditions. The children were categorized as atopic, atopic asthmatic, non-atopic asthmatic or healthy controls. Extracted DNA was bisulfite treated and 1505 CpG loci across 807 genes were analyzed using the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I. Gene expression for a subset of genes was performed using RT-PCR.
We demonstrate a signature set of CpG sites that are differentially methylated in AECs as compared to PBMCs regardless of disease phenotype. Of these, 13 CpG sites were specific to healthy controls, 8 sites were only found in atopics, and 6 CpGs were unique to asthmatics. We found no differences in the methylation status of PBMCs between disease phenotypes. In AECs derived from asthmatics compared to atopics, 8 differentially methylated sites were identified including CpGs in STAT5A and CRIP1. We demonstrate STAT5A gene expression is decreased whereas CRIP1 gene expression is elevated in the AECs from asthmatic compared to both healthy and atopic subjects.
We characterized a cell specific DNA methylation signature for AECs compared to PBMCs regardless of asthmatic or atopic status. Our data highlight the importance of understanding DNA methylation in the epithelium when studying the epithelial contribution to asthma.
PMCID: PMC3435400  PMID: 22970180
15.  Presence of circulating autoantibodies against bronchial epithelia cell in patients with nonatopic asthma. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2000;15(6):631-634.
Allergic response to common environmental agents has been regarded as a main pathogenetic mechanism of bronchial asthma. However, allergic sensitization (atopy) can not be detected in a siginificant number of adult asthmatic patients. The etiology of nonatopic asthma has not yet been defined. To evaluate the possible involvement of autoimmune response against bronchial mucosa in the pathogenesis of nonatopic asthma, we performed indirect immunofluorescence staining of fresh frozen human bronchial mucosa tissue using serum samples from patients with atopic and nonatopic asthma, healthy controls, and patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. On immunostaining, circulating IgG autoantibodies against bronchial mucosa were detected in 2 (9.1%) of 22 patients with nonatopic asthma and in none of 22 patients with atopic asthma and of 22 healthy controls. IgG autoantibodies from the two patients with nonatopic asthma predominantly stained the cytoplasmic membrane of basal cells in bronchial epithelium. Serum samples from 10 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus immunostained the nucleus of epithelial cells in whole layer of bronchial epithelium. This study showed the presence of circulating IgG autoantibodies against the bronchial epithelial cell in a small portion of patients with nonatopic asthma. Further studies may be necessary to evaluate the possible involvement of autoimmune mechanism in the pathogenesis of nonatopic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3054709  PMID: 11194188
16.  Differences in allergen-induced T cell activation between allergic asthma and rhinitis: Role of CD28, ICOS and CTLA-4 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):25.
Th2 cell activation and T regulatory cell (Treg) deficiency are key features of allergy. This applies for asthma and rhinitis. However with a same atopic background, some patients will develop rhinitis and asthma, whereas others will display rhinitis only. Co-receptors are pivotal in determining the type of T cell activation, but their role in allergic asthma and rhinitis has not been explored. Our objective was to assess whether allergen-induced T cell activation differs from allergic rhinitis to allergic rhinitis with asthma, and explore the role of ICOS, CD28 and CTLA-4.
T cell co-receptor and cytokine expressions were assessed by flow cytometry in PBMC from 18 house dust mite (HDM) allergic rhinitics (R), 18 HDM allergic rhinitics and asthmatics (AR), 13 non allergic asthmatics (A) and 20 controls, with or without anti-co-receptors antibodies.
In asthmatics (A+AR), a constitutive decrease of CTLA-4+ and of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ cells was found, with an increase of IFN-γ+ cells. In allergic subjects (R + AR), allergen stimulation induced CD28 together with IL-4 and IL-13, and decreased the proportion of CTLA-4+, IL-10+ and CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ cells. Anti-ICOS and anti-CD28 antibodies blocked allergen-induced IL-4 and IL-13. IL-13 production also involved CTLA-4.
T cell activation differs between allergic rhinitis and asthma. In asthma, a constitutive, co-receptor independent, Th1 activation and Treg deficiency is found. In allergic rhinitis, an allergen-induced Treg cell deficiency is seen, as well as an ICOS-, CD28- and CTLA-4-dependent Th2 activation. Allergic asthmatics display both characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3051906  PMID: 21356099
17.  EGF-Induced Bronchial Epithelial Cells Drive Neutrophil Chemotactic and Anti-Apoptotic Activity in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72502.
Chronic damage and repair of the bronchial epithelium are features of asthma. We have previously reported that ex vivo stimulation of normal bronchial epithelial cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF), a key factor of epithelial repair, enhances the mechanisms of neutrophil accumulation, thereby promoting neutrophil defences during acute injury but potentially enhancing inflammation in chronic airway diseases. We have now sought to (i) determine whether this EGF-dependent pro-neutrophil activity is increased in asthma, where EGF and its epithelial receptor are over-expressed, and (ii) elucidate some of the mechanisms underlying this asthmatic epithelial-neutrophil interaction. Primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBEC) from healthy subjects, mild asthmatics and moderate-to-severe asthmatics (Mod/Sev) were stimulated with EGF, a model that mimics a repairing epithelium. Conditioned culture media (EGF-CM) were assessed for neutrophil chemotactic and anti-apoptotic activities and inflammatory mediator production. EGF induced the epithelium to produce soluble mediators with neutrophil chemotactic (p<0.001) and pro-survival (p = 0.021) activities which were related to the clinical severity of asthma (trend p = 0.010 and p = 0.009, respectively). This was associated with enhanced IL-6, IL-8, GM-CSF and TNF-α release, and cytokine-neutralising experiments using EGF-CM from Mod/Sev asthmatics demonstrated a role for GM-CSF in neutrophil survival (p<0.001). Pre-treatment of neutrophils with specific inhibitors of the myeloid-restricted class I phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) isoforms showed that the EGF-CM from Mod/Sev asthmatics depended on the γ (p<0.021) but not δ isoforms, while neutrophil survival required multiple class I PI(3)Ks. The EGF-induced chemotactic, but not pro-survival activity, involved RhoA signaling in neutrophils (p = 0.012). EGF whose activity is upregulated in asthma induces ex vivo the epithelium from asthmatic patients to produce pro-neutrophil activities; these are related to asthma severity and, in moderate-to-severe asthmatics, involves class IB PI(3)Kγ signaling, providing a potential therapeutic target for neutrophilic forms of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3770689  PMID: 24039773
18.  Quantitative and morphological analysis of the vascular bed in bronchial biopsy specimens from asthmatic and non-asthmatic subjects 
Thorax  2001;56(12):902-906.
BACKGROUND—This study was designed to establish the number and area (as a percentage) of bronchial wall vessels in subjects with and without asthma, to obtain information on the morphology of the vessels, and to see whether changes differed in patients with mild, moderate, and severe asthma.
METHODS—Biopsy specimens were taken using a rigid bronchoscope from the carina of the middle lobe bronchus of 20 patients with allergic asthma and 20 non-asthmatic controls. Specimens were sectioned and stained with haematoxylin-eosin, Masson trichrome, PAS, alcian blue-PAS, and orcein. The vessels were counted and the vascular area was calculated as a percentage in the lamina propria, in blind conditions, on PAS stained sections in 50 microscopic fields (magnification ×1000, 0.02 mm2 per field). The vascular area was calculated using the points counting procedure (Chalkley point array). The vascular morphology, intravascular cells, and the perivascular area were also studied using a magnification up to ×1200.
RESULTS—Patients with asthma had more vessels (mean (SD) 226.70 (74.53) v 172.05 (30.58), p=0.0043) and a larger percentage vascular area (8.61 (2.38)% v 6.81 (2.25)%, p=0.028) than non-asthmatic subjects. Patients with severe asthma had significantly more vessels than those with mild or moderate disease (p=0.0044). Asthmatic capillaries and venules had oedematous walls and thickening of the subendothelial basement membrane, and hypotrophic or atrophic myocytes and fibrosis in the arterioles. Vessels from asthmatic subjects showed eosinophil recruitment, activation, and intravascular lysis. Intense eosinophil recruitment was associated with more marked vascular structural changes. Muscular formations protruded into the lumen in the arterioles of both groups, and in asthmatics these had hypotrophic or atrophic myocytes and fibrosis.
CONCLUSIONS—Morphometric analysis showed that the bronchial lamina propria of asthmatic subjects had a larger number of vessels, occupying a larger percentage area than in non-asthmatic subjects. The number of vessels was correlated with the severity of the asthma. Marked alterations to the vascular structure appeared to be associated with intense eosinophil recruitment and intravascular activation. This is the first report of asthmatic and non-asthmatic bronchial wall specimens containing intra-arteriolar muscular formations, presumably to regulate blood flow to the capillary network and/or sinusoids. This function might be impaired when these structures are remodelled in asthmatic patients.

PMCID: PMC1745985  PMID: 11713351
19.  dsRNA-induced changes in gene expression profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from patients with asthma, rhinitis and controls 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):9.
Rhinovirus infections are the most common cause of asthma exacerbations. The complex responses by airway epithelium to rhinovirus can be captured by gene expression profiling. We hypothesized that: a) upper and lower airway epithelium exhibit differential responses to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), and b) that this is modulated by the presence of asthma and allergic rhinitis.
Identification of dsRNA-induced gene expression profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from the same individuals and examining the impact of allergic rhinitis with and without concomitant allergic asthma on expression profiles.
This study had a cross-sectional design including 18 subjects: 6 patients with allergic asthma with concomitant rhinitis, 6 patients with allergic rhinitis, and 6 healthy controls. Comparing 6 subjects per group, the estimated false discovery rate was approximately 5%. RNA was extracted from isolated and cultured primary epithelial cells from nasal biopsies and bronchial brushings stimulated with dsRNA (poly(I:C)), and analyzed by microarray (Affymetrix U133+ PM Genechip Array). Data were analysed using R and the Bioconductor Limma package. Overrepresentation of gene ontology groups were captured by GeneSpring GX12.
In total, 17 subjects completed the study successfully (6 allergic asthma with rhinitis, 5 allergic rhinitis, 6 healthy controls). dsRNA-stimulated upper and lower airway epithelium from asthma patients demonstrated significantly fewer induced genes, exhibiting reduced down-regulation of mitochondrial genes. The majority of genes related to viral responses appeared to be similarly induced in upper and lower airways in all groups. However, the induction of several interferon-related genes (IRF3, IFNAR1, IFNB1, IFNGR1, IL28B) was impaired in patients with asthma.
dsRNA differentially changes transcriptional profiles of primary nasal and bronchial epithelial cells from patients with allergic rhinitis with or without asthma and controls. Our data suggest that respiratory viruses affect mitochondrial genes, and we identified disease-specific genes that provide potential targets for drug development.
PMCID: PMC3916078  PMID: 24475887
Asthma; Rhinitis; Epithelium; Gene expression; dsRNA
20.  The immune profile associated with acute allergic asthma accelerates clearance of influenza virus 
Immunology and Cell Biology  2014;92(5):449-459.
Asthma was the most common comorbidity in hospitalized patients during the 2009 influenza pandemic. For unknown reasons, hospitalized asthmatics had less severe outcomes and were less likely to die from pandemic influenza. Our data with primary human bronchial cells indicate that changes intrinsic to epithelial cells in asthma may protect against cytopathology induced by influenza virus. To further study influenza virus pathogenesis in allergic hosts, we aimed to develop and characterize murine models of asthma and influenza comorbidity to determine structural, physiological and immunological changes induced by influenza in the context of asthma. Aspergillus fumigatus-sensitized and -challenged C57BL/6 mice were infected with pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, either during peak allergic inflammation or during airway remodeling to gain insight into disease pathogenesis. Mice infected with the influenza virus during peak allergic inflammation did not lose body weight and cleared the virus rapidly. These mice exhibited high eosinophilia, preserved airway epithelial cell integrity, increased mucus, reduced interferon response and increased insulin-like growth factor-1. In contrast, weight loss and viral replication kinetics in the mice that were infected during the late airway remodeling phase were equivalent to flu-only controls. These mice had neutrophils in the airways, damaged airway epithelial cells, less mucus production, increased interferons and decreased insulin-like growth factor-1. The state of the allergic airways at the time of influenza virus infection alters host responses against the virus. These murine models of asthma and influenza comorbidity may improve our understanding of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of viral infections in humans with asthma.
PMCID: PMC4037497  PMID: 24469764
acute asthma; airway epithelium; chronic asthma; comorbidity; mouse model
21.  The immune profile associated with acute allergic asthma accelerates clearance of influenza virus 
Immunology and cell biology  2014;92(5):449-459.
Asthma was the most common co-morbidity in hospitalized patients during the 2009 influenza pandemic. For unknown reasons, hospitalized asthmatics had less severe outcomes and were less likely to die from pandemic influenza. Our data with primary human bronchial cells indicate that changes intrinsic to epithelial cells in asthma may protect against cytopathology induced by influenza virus. To further study influenza virus pathogenesis in allergic hosts, we aimed to develop and characterize murine models of asthma and influenza co-morbidity to determine structural, physiological, and immunological changes induced by influenza in the context of asthma. Aspergillus fumigatus-sensitized and -challenged C57BL/6 mice were infected with pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, either during peak allergic inflammation or during airway remodeling to gain insight into disease pathogenesis. Mice infected with influenza during peak allergic inflammation did not lose body weight and cleared the virus rapidly. These mice exhibited high eosinophilia, airway epithelial cell integrity, increased mucus, reduced interferon response, and increased insulin-like growth factor-1. In contrast, weight loss and viral replication curves in the mice that were infected during the late airway remodeling phase were equivalent to flu-only controls. These mice had neutrophils in the airways, damaged airway epithelial cells, less mucus production, increased interferons and decreased insulin-like growth factor-1. The state of the allergic airways at the time of influenza virus infection alters host responses against the virus. These murine models of asthma and influenza co-morbidity may improve our understanding of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of viral infections in humans with asthma.
PMCID: PMC4037497  PMID: 24469764
Acute asthma; Airway epithelium; Chronic asthma; Co-morbidity; Mouse model
22.  Surfactant Protein-A Suppresses Eosinophil-Mediated Killing of Mycoplasma pneumoniae in Allergic Lungs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32436.
Surfactant protein-A (SP-A) has well-established functions in reducing bacterial and viral infections but its role in chronic lung diseases such as asthma is unclear. Mycoplasma pneumoniae (Mp) frequently colonizes the airways of chronic asthmatics and is thought to contribute to exacerbations of asthma. Our lab has previously reported that during Mp infection of non-allergic airways, SP-A aides in maintaining airway homeostasis by inhibiting an overzealous TNF-alpha mediated response and, in allergic mice, SP-A regulates eosinophilic infiltration and inflammation of the airway. In the current study, we used an in vivo model with wild type (WT) and SP-A−/− allergic mice challenged with the model antigen ovalbumin (Ova) that were concurrently infected with Mp (Ova+Mp) to test the hypothesis that SP-A ameliorates Mp-induced stimulation of eosinophils. Thus, SP-A could protect allergic airways from injury due to release of eosinophil inflammatory products. SP-A deficient mice exhibit significant increases in inflammatory cells, mucus production and lung damage during concurrent allergic airway disease and infection (Ova+Mp) as compared to the WT mice of the same treatment group. In contrast, SP-A deficient mice have significantly decreased Mp burden compared to WT mice. The eosinophil specific factor, eosinophil peroxidase (EPO), which has been implicated in pathogen killing and also in epithelial dysfunction due to oxidative damage of resident lung proteins, is enhanced in samples from allergic/infected SP-A−/− mice as compared to WT mice. In vitro experiments using purified eosinophils and human SP-A suggest that SP-A limits the release of EPO from Mp-stimulated eosinophils thereby reducing their killing capacity. These findings are the first to demonstrate that although SP-A interferes with eosinophil-mediated biologic clearance of Mp by mediating the interaction of Mp with eosinophils, SP-A simultaneously benefits the airway by limiting inflammation and damage.
PMCID: PMC3285686  PMID: 22384248
23.  IL-4 receptor alpha single-nucleotide polymorphisms rs1805010 and rs1801275 are associated with increased risk of asthma in a Saudi Arabian population 
Annals of Thoracic Medicine  2014;9(2):81-86.
The IL-4 receptor alpha subunit (IL-4Rα), when associated with the common gamma chain receptor, or the IL-13Rα1 subunit, transduces signals to STAT6 in response to IL-4 and IL-13 stimulations. This results in a number of cell-specific responses including Th2 differentiation, lymphocyte proliferation and IgE production. Given the prominent role of IL-4Rα in allergic disorders, several single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been found associated with asthma and other atopic disorders, including rs1805010 (I75V) and rs1801275 (Q576R) SNPs; however, lack of significant association have also been reported for some ethnic groups. The objective of this study was to determine whether IL-4Rα rs1805010 and rs1801275 polymorphisms are associated with asthma in patients from Saudi Arabia.
One hundred and ninety severe asthmatic patients (11-70 years old) and 194 healthy subjects of equivalent age range were recruited for blood donation. DNA was purified and genotyping for rs1801275 and rs1805010 polymorphisms in the IL-4Rα gene was performed by PCR amplification, followed by cycle sequencing of the purified PCR fragments using BigDye chain terminator and capillary electrophoresis.
Pearson's Chi-square tests showed that the minor alleles, G, for both rs1805010 and rs1801275 SNPs, were significantly more frequent in asthmatics than in the healthy group (Yates’ P < 0.05); conversely, the major alleles, A, were significantly more frequent in healthy than in asthmatics (P < 0.05). Concerning association analysis, odds for A/G-G/G genotypes were significantly higher to be associated with asthma predisposition (rs1801275: OR = 2.12; 95% CI = 1.39-3.22; P < 0.001*; rs1805010: OR = 1.6; 95% CI = 1.01-2.53; P < 0.05*; dominant model). Analysis of gender-genotype interactions, with genders nested within A/G-G/G, indicated higher odds for females than males of significant association with asthma (rs1801275: OR = 5.19, 95% CI = 2.09-12.94*; rs1805010: OR = 3.73, 95% CI = 2.06-6.74*). Rs1805010 and rs1801275 were in linkage disequilibrium (D’ = 0.27; P < 0.0004*), with G-G haplotype being more frequent in asthmatics than in healthy subjects (OR = 2.43, 95% CI = 1.59-3.71*).
The risk alleles, G, of IL-4Rα rs1805010 and rs1801275 SNPs and corresponding A/G-G/G genotypes were significantly associated with asthma predisposition in asthmatics from Saudi Arabia.
PMCID: PMC4005166  PMID: 24791170
Asthma; allergy; association; genotype; IL-4 receptor alpha; susceptibility; STAT6
24.  TSLP directly impairs pulmonary Treg function: association with aberrant tolerogenic immunity in asthmatic airway 
Even though thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) has been implicated in the development of allergic inflammation, its influence on immune tolerance mediated by regulatory T cells (Treg) have not been explored. We aimed to dissect the influence of TSLP on immunosuppressive activities of Treg and its potential consequences in human allergic asthma.
In vitro culture system was utilized to study the effects of TSLP on human Treg. The functional competency of pulmonary Treg from a cohort of 15 allergic asthmatic, 15 healthy control, and 15 non-allergic asthmatic subjects was also evaluated by suppression assays and flow cytometric analysis.
Activated pulmonary Treg expressed TSLP-R and responded to TSLP-mediated activation of STAT5. TSLP directly and selectively impaired IL-10 production of Treg and inhibited their suppressive activity. In human allergic asthma, pulmonary Treg exhibited a significant decrease in suppressive activity and IL-10 production compared to healthy control and non-allergic asthmatic counterparts. These functional alterations were associated with elevated TSLP expression in bronchoaveolar lavage fluid (BAL) of allergic asthmatic subjects. Furthermore, allergic asthmatic BAL could suppress IL-10 production by healthy control pulmonary Treg in a TSLP-dependent manner.
These results provide the first evidences for a direct role of TSLP in the regulation of suppressive activities of Treg. TSLP mediated inhibition of Treg function might present a novel pathologic mechanism to dampen tolerogenic immune responses in inflamed asthmatic airway.
PMCID: PMC3161393  PMID: 20230634
25.  Undifferentiated Bronchial Fibroblasts Derived from Asthmatic Patients Display Higher Elastic Modulus than Their Non-Asthmatic Counterparts 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116840.
During asthma development, differentiation of epithelial cells and fibroblasts towards the contractile phenotype is associated with bronchial wall remodeling and airway constriction. Pathological fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition (FMT) can be triggered by local inflammation of bronchial walls. Recently, we have demonstrated that human bronchial fibroblasts (HBFs) derived from asthmatic patients display some inherent features which facilitate their FMT in vitro. In spite of intensive research efforts, these properties remain unknown. Importantly, the role of undifferentiated HBFs in the asthmatic process was systematically omitted. Specifically, biomechanical properties of undifferentiated HBFs have not been considered in either FMT or airway remodeling in vivo. Here, we combine atomic force spectroscopy with fluorescence microscopy to compare mechanical properties and actin cytoskeleton architecture of HBFs derived from asthmatic patients and non-asthmatic donors. Our results demonstrate that asthmatic HBFs form thick and aligned ‘ventral’ stress fibers accompanied by enlarged focal adhesions. The differences in cytoskeleton architecture between asthmatic and non-asthmatic cells correlate with higher elastic modulus of asthmatic HBFs and their increased predilection to TGF-β-induced FMT. Due to the obvious links between cytoskeleton architecture and mechanical equilibrium, our observations indicate that HBFs derived from asthmatic bronchi can develop considerably higher static tension than non-asthmatic HBFs. This previously unexplored property of asthmatic HBFs may be potentially important for their myofibroblastic differentiation and bronchial wall remodeling during asthma development.
PMCID: PMC4334506  PMID: 25679502

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