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1.  Protease-Activated Receptor-2 Activation Contributes to House Dust Mite-Induced IgE Responses in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91206.
Aeroallergens such as house dust mite (HDM), cockroach, and grass or tree pollen are innocuous substances that can induce allergic sensitization upon inhalation. The serine proteases present in these allergens are thought to activate the protease-activated receptor (PAR)-2, on the airway epithelium, thereby potentially inducing allergic sensitization at the expense of inhalation tolerance. We hypothesized that the proteolytic activity of allergens may play an important factor in the allergenicity to house dust mite and is essential to overcome airway tolerance. Here, we aimed to investigate the role of PAR-2 activation in allergic sensitization and HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation. In our study, Par-2 deficient mice were treated with two different HDM extracts containing high and low serine protease activities twice a week for a period of 5 weeks. We determined airway inflammation through quantification of percentages of mononuclear cells, eosinophils and neutrophils in the bronchial alveolar lavage fluid and measured total IgE and HDM-specific IgE and IgG1 levels in serum. Furthermore, Th2 and pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-5, IL-13, Eotaxin-1, IL-17, KC, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 17 (CCL17) and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), were measured in lung tissue homogenates. We observed that independent of the serine protease content, HDM was able to induce elevated levels of eosinophils and neutrophils in the airways of both wild-type (WT) and Par-2 deficient mice. Furthermore, we show that induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by HDM exposure is independent of Par-2 activation. In contrast, serine protease activity of HDM does contribute to enhanced levels of total IgE, but not HDM-specific IgE. We conclude that, while Par-2 activation contributes to the development of IgE responses, it is largely dispensable for the HDM-induced induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and airway inflammation in an experimental mouse model of HDM-driven allergic airway disease.
PMCID: PMC3961228  PMID: 24651123
2.  Activity of the cyclooxygenase 2-prostaglandin-E prostanoid receptor pathway in mice exposed to house dust mite aeroallergens, and impact of exogenous prostaglandin E2 
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), experimentally administered to asthma patients or assayed in murine models, improves allergen-driven airway inflammation. The mechanisms are unknown, but fluctuations of the endogenous cyclooxygenase (COX)-2/prostaglandin/E prostanoid (EP) receptor pathway activity likely contribute to the clinical outcome. We analyzed the activity of the pathway in mice sensitized to aeroallergens, and then studied its modulation under exogenous PGE2.
Mice were exposed to house dust mite (HDM) aeroallergens, a model that enable us to mimic the development of allergic asthma in humans, and were then treated with either subcutaneous PGE2 or the selective EP1/3 receptor agonist sulprostone. Simultaneously with airway responsiveness and inflammation, lung COX-2 and EP receptor mRNA expression were assessed. Levels of PGE2, PGI2, PGD2 were also determined in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
HDM-induced airway hyperreactivity and inflammation were accompanied by increased COX-2 mRNA production. In parallel, airway PGE2 and PGI2, but not PGD2, were upregulated, and the EP2 receptor showed overexpression. Subcutaneous PGE2 attenuated aeroallergen-driven airway eosinophilic inflammation and reduced endogenous PGE2 and PGI2 production. Sulprostone had neither an effect on airway responsiveness or inflammation nor diminished allergen-induced COX-2 and PGE2 overexpression. Finally, lung EP2 receptor levels remained high in mice treated with PGE2, but not in those treated with sulprostone.
The lung COX-2/PGE2/EP2 receptor pathway is upregulated in HDM-exposed mice, possibly as an effort to attenuate allergen-induced airway inflammation. Exogenous PGE2 downregulates its endogenous counterpart but maintains EP2 overexpression, a phenomenon that might be required for administered PGE2 to exert its protective effect.
PMCID: PMC2776012  PMID: 19878559
3.  A GM-CSF/IL-33 Pathway Facilitates Allergic Airway Responses to Sub-Threshold House Dust Mite Exposure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88714.
Allergic asthma is a chronic immune-inflammatory disease of the airways. Despite aeroallergen exposure being universal, allergic asthma affects only a fraction of individuals. This is likely related, at least in part, to the extent of allergen exposure. Regarding house dust mite (HDM), we previously identified the threshold required to elicit allergic responses in BALB/c mice. Here, we investigated the impact of an initial immune perturbation on the response to sub-threshold HDM exposure. We show that transient GM-CSF expression in the lung facilitated robust eosinophilic inflammation, long-lasting antigen-specific Th2 responses, mucus production and airway hyperresponsiveness. This was associated with increased IL-33 levels and activated CD11b+ DCs expressing OX40L. GM-CSF-driven allergic responses were significantly blunted in IL-33-deficient mice. IL-33 was localized on alveolar type II cells and in vitro stimulation of human epithelial cells with GM-CSF enhanced intracellular IL-33 independently of IL-1α. Likewise, GM-CSF administration in vivo resulted in increased levels of IL-33 but not IL-1α. These findings suggest that exposures to environmental agents associated with GM-CSF production, including airway infections and pollutants, may decrease the threshold of allergen responsiveness and, hence, increase the susceptibility to develop allergic asthma through a GM-CSF/IL-33/OX40L pathway.
PMCID: PMC3925157  PMID: 24551140
4.  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
5.  Neutralisation of Interleukin-13 in Mice Prevents Airway Pathology Caused by Chronic Exposure to House Dust Mite 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13136.
Repeated exposure to inhaled allergen can cause airway inflammation, remodeling and dysfunction that manifests as the symptoms of allergic asthma. We have investigated the role of the cytokine interleukin-13 (IL-13) in the generation and persistence of airway cellular inflammation, bronchial remodeling and deterioration in airway function in a model of allergic asthma caused by chronic exposure to the aeroallergen House Dust Mite (HDM).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice were exposed to HDM via the intranasal route for 4 consecutive days per week for up to 8 consecutive weeks. Mice were treated either prophylactically or therapeutically with a potent neutralising anti-IL-13 monoclonal antibody (mAb) administered subcutaneously (s.c.). Airway cellular inflammation was assessed by flow cytometry, peribronchial collagen deposition by histocytochemistry and airway hyperreactivity (AHR) by invasive measurement of lung resistance (RL) and dynamic compliance (Cdyn). Both prophylactic and therapeutic treatment with an anti-IL-13 mAb significantly inhibited (P<0.05) the generation and maintenance of chronic HDM-induced airway cellular inflammation, peribronchial collagen deposition, epithelial goblet cell upregulation. AHR to inhaled methacholine was reversed by prophylactic but not therapeutic treatment with anti-IL-13 mAb. Both prophylactic and therapeutic treatment with anti-IL-13 mAb significantly reversed (P<0.05) the increase in baseline RL and the decrease in baseline Cdyn caused by chronic exposure to inhaled HDM.
These data demonstrate that in a model of allergic lung disease driven by chronic exposure to a clinically relevant aeroallergen, IL-13 plays a significant role in the generation and persistence of airway inflammation, remodeling and dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC2948524  PMID: 20957211
6.  Lung Macrophages Contribute to House Dust Mite Driven Airway Remodeling via HIF-1α 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69246.
HIF-1α is a transcription factor that is activated during hypoxia and inflammation and is a key regulator of angiogenesis in vivo. During the development of asthma, peribronchial angiogenesis is induced in response to aeroallergens and is thought to be an important feature of sustained chronic allergic inflammation. Recently, elevated HIF-1α levels have been demonstrated in both the lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage of allergic patients, respectively. Therefore, we investigated the role of HIF-1α on the development of angiogenesis and inflammation following acute and chronic allergen exposure. Our data shows that intranasal exposure to house dust mite (HDM) increases the expression of HIF-1α in the lung, whilst reducing the expression of the HIF-1α negative regulators, PHD1 and PHD3. Blockade of HIF-1α in vivo, significantly decreased allergic inflammation and eosinophilia induced by allergen, due to a reduction in the levels of IL-5 and Eotaxin-2. Importantly, HIF-1α blockade significantly decreased levels of VEGF-A and CXCL1 in the lungs, which in turn led to a profound decrease in the recruitment of endothelial progenitor cells and a reduction of peribronchial angiogenesis. Furthermore, HDM or IL-4 treatment of primary lung macrophages resulted in significant production of both VEGF-A and CXCL1; inhibition of HIF-1α activity abrogated the production of these factors via an up-regulation of PHD1 and PHD3. These findings suggest that novel strategies to reduce the expression and activation of HIF-1α in lung macrophages may be used to attenuate allergen-induced airway inflammation and angiogenesis through the modulation of VEGF-A and CXCL1 expression.
Clinical Relevance
This study provides new insights into the role of HIF-1α in the development of peribronchial angiogenesis and inflammation in a murine model of allergic airway disease. These findings indicate that strategies to reduce activation of macrophage derived HIF-1α may be used as a target to improve asthma pathology.
PMCID: PMC3720585  PMID: 23935964
7.  Dectin-2 sensing of house dust mite is critical for the initiation of airway inflammation 
Mucosal Immunology  2013;7(3):558-567.
How the immune system senses aeroallergens and triggers an aberrant inflammation is poorly understood. Dectin-2 is a house dust mite (HDM)-sensing pattern recognition receptor. In a 3-week mouse model of repeated intranasal HDM challenge, anti-Dectin-2 potently attenuated the characteristic allergic inflammation and airway hyper-responsiveness. Anti-Dectin-2 also prevented neutrophil influx following a single HDM challenge. Interestingly, cysteinyl leukotrienes, but not chemokine and cytokine levels were inhibited by anti-Dectin-2 in this acute model, and in ex vivo challenge of cultured alveolar macrophages with HDM. Furthermore in the single-challenge model, zileuton, an inhibitor of leukotriene production, produced a similar effect as Dectin-2 blockade. Together these data suggest alveolar macrophage sensing of HDM by Dectin-2 elicits the production of cysteinyl leukotrienes, and this axis is key for the initiation of airway inflammation to this aeroallergen. Finally, we found Dectin-2-positive infiltrating cells present in bronchial biopsies from asthmatic subjects.
PMCID: PMC3998635  PMID: 24129160
8.  An intranasal selective antisense oligonucleotide impairs lung cyclooxygenase-2 production and improves inflammation, but worsens airway function, in house dust mite sensitive mice 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):72.
Despite its reported pro-inflammatory activity, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 has been proposed to play a protective role in asthma. Accordingly, COX-2 might be down-regulated in the airway cells of asthmatics. This, together with results of experiments to assess the impact of COX-2 blockade in ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized mice in vivo, led us to propose a novel experimental approach using house dust mite (HDM)-sensitized mice in which we mimicked altered regulation of COX-2.
Allergic inflammation was induced in BALBc mice by intranasal exposure to HDM for 10 consecutive days. This model reproduces spontaneous exposure to aeroallergens by asthmatic patients. In order to impair, but not fully block, COX-2 production in the airways, some of the animals received an intranasal antisense oligonucleotide. Lung COX-2 expression and activity were measured along with bronchovascular inflammation, airway reactivity, and prostaglandin production.
We observed impaired COX-2 mRNA and protein expression in the lung tissue of selective oligonucleotide-treated sensitized mice. This was accompanied by diminished production of mPGE synthase and PGE2 in the airways. In sensitized mice, the oligonucleotide induced increased airway hyperreactivity (AHR) to methacholine, but a substantially reduced bronchovascular inflammation. Finally, mRNA levels of hPGD synthase remained unchanged.
Intranasal antisense therapy against COX-2 in vivo mimicked the reported impairment of COX-2 regulation in the airway cells of asthmatic patients. This strategy revealed an unexpected novel dual effect: inflammation was improved but AHR worsened. This approach will provide insights into the differential regulation of inflammation and lung function in asthma, and will help identify pharmacological targets within the COX-2/PG system.
PMCID: PMC2600823  PMID: 19014484
9.  Eosinophilic Airway Inflammation and Airway Hyperresponsiveness According to Aeroallergen Sensitization Pattern in Patients With Lower Airway Symptoms 
Sensitization to specific allergens may be important in the development of allergic airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). We evaluated the effect of specific aeroallergen sensitization on eosinophilic airway inflammation and AHR.
We reviewed retrospectively the clinical data of subjects who underwent skin prick tests to aeroallergens, induced sputum analysis, and methacholine bronchial provocation tests to evaluate lower airway symptoms as well as analyzed the associations between the pattern of aeroallergen sensitization and sputum eosinophilia or AHR.
Of the 1,202 subjects be enrolled, 534 (44.4%) were sensitized to at least one aeroallergen in skin tests. AHR was demonstrated in 23.5% and sputum eosinophilia in 38.8%. Sputum eosinophilia was significantly associated with sensitization to perennial allergens (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.5), house dust mite (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.3), dog (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.1-3.3), and cat (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.4-3.4). AHR was associated with sensitization to perennial allergens (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 2.0-3.7), house dust mite (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.6 3.2), Alternaria (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2-4.7), and cat (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.7-4.3). Sensitization to more perennial allergens increased the risk for sputum eosinophilia and AHR. There was no relationship with individual seasonal allergens.
The development of airway eosinophilic inflammation and AHR in an adult Korean population was associated with sensitization to perennial allergens rather than seasonal allergens.
PMCID: PMC3881399  PMID: 24404392
Aeroallergen; airway eosinophilia; airway hyperresponsiveness
10.  Overexpression of Smad2 Drives House Dust Mite–mediated Airway Remodeling and Airway Hyperresponsiveness via Activin and IL-25 
Rationale: Airway hyperreactivity and remodeling are characteristic features of asthma. Interactions between the airway epithelium and environmental allergens are believed to be important in driving development of pathology, particularly because altered epithelial gene expression is common in individuals with asthma.
Objectives: To investigate the interactions between a modified airway epithelium and a common aeroallergen in vivo.
Methods: We used an adenoviral vector to generate mice overexpressing the transforming growth factor-β signaling molecule, Smad2, in the airway epithelium and exposed them to house dust mite (HDM) extract intranasally.
Measurements and Main Results: Smad2 overexpression resulted in enhanced airway hyperreactivity after allergen challenge concomitant with changes in airway remodeling. Subepithelial collagen deposition was increased and smooth muscle hyperplasia was evident resulting in thickening of the airway smooth muscle layer. However, there was no increase in airway inflammation in mice given the Smad2 vector compared with the control vector. Enhanced airway hyperreactivity and remodeling did not correlate with elevated levels of Th2 cytokines, such as IL-13 or IL-4. However, mice overexpressing Smad2 in the airway epithelium showed significantly enhanced levels of IL-25 and activin A after HDM exposure. Blocking activin A with a neutralizing antibody prevented the increase in lung IL-25 and inhibited subsequent collagen deposition and also the enhanced airway hyperreactivity observed in the Smad2 overexpressing HDM-exposed mice.
Conclusions: Epithelial overexpression of Smad2 can specifically alter airway hyperreactivity and remodeling in response to an aeroallergen. Moreover, we have identified novel roles for IL-25 and activin A in driving airway hyperreactivity and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC2913231  PMID: 20339149
asthma; lung; epithelium; smooth muscle; collagen
Environmental research  2010;111(1):119-124.
Several in vivo and in vitro studies have shown that metal-rich particles may enhance allergic responses to house dust mites and induce an increased release of allergy-related cytokines.
The main goal of this analysis is to define the possible association of intrauterine exposure to lead and mercury with the occurrence of skin sensitization to common aeroallergens in early childhood.
Material and Methods
The present study refers to a sample of 224 women in the second trimester of pregnancy recruited from Krakow inner city area who had full term pregnancies and whose children underwent skin prick testing (SPT) at the age of 5. Lead and mercury levels were assessed in cord blood and retested in children at age of 5 years. Aeroallergen concentrations in house dust were measured at the age of 3 years. The main health outcome (atopic status) was defined as the positive SPT to at least one common aeroallergen (Der f1, Der p1, Can f1 and Fel d1) at the age of 5 years. In the statistical analysis of the association between atopic status of children and exposure to metals, the study considered a set of covariates such as maternal characteristics (age, education, atopy), child’s gender, number of older siblings, prenatal (measured via cord blood cotinine) and postnatal environmental tobacco smoke together with exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) as measured by PAH-DNA adducts.
Results and conclusion
In the binary regression analysis, which controlled for the confounders, the risk ratio (RR) estimate for atopic sensitization was significantly associated with the lead exposure (RR =2.25, 95%CI: 1.21–4.19). In conclusion, the data suggest that even very low-level of prenatal lead exposure may be implicated in enhancing sensitization to common aeroallergens in early childhood.
PMCID: PMC3026073  PMID: 21094490
birth cohort study; lead; intrauterine exposure; atopy; children
12.  IL-13 receptor α1 differentially regulates aeroallergen induced lung responses 
Interleukin (IL)-13 and IL-4 are hallmark cytokines of Th2-associated diseases including asthma. Recent studies revealed that IL-13Rα1 regulates asthma pathogenesis by mediating both IL-4 and IL-13-mediated responses. Nonetheless, the relative contribution of each cytokine in response to aeroallergen challenge and the degree of functional dichotomy between IL-4 and IL-13 in asthma remains unclear. Consistent with prior publications, we demonstrate that IL-13Rα1 regulates aeroallergen-induced airway resistance and mucus production but not IgE and Th2 cytokine production. We demonstrate that aeroallergen-induced eosinophil recruitment and chemokine production were largely dependent of IL-13Rα1 following Aspergillus (Asp) but not house dust mite (HDM) challenges. Notably, Asp-challenged mice displayed increased IL-13Rα1-dependent accumulation of dendritic cell subsets into lung draining lymph nodes in comparison with HDM. Comparison of IL-4 and IL-13 levels in the different experimental models revealed increased IL-4:IL-13 ratios following HDM challenge, likely explaining the IL-13Rα1-independent eosinophilia and chemokine production. Consistently, eosinophil adoptive-transfer experiments revealed near ablation of lung eosinophilia in response to Asp in Il13ra1−/− mice, suggesting that Asp-induced lung eosinophil recruitment is regulated by IL-13-induced chemokine production, rather than altered IL-13 signaling in eosinophils. Furthermore, the near complete protection observed in Il13ra1−/− mice in response to Asp-challenge was dependent on mucosal sensitization since Alum/Asp-sensitized mice that were re-challenged with Asp developed IL-13Rα1-independent eosinophilia although other asthma parameters remained IL-13Rα1-dependent. These results establish that IL-13Rα1 is required for aeroallergen-induced airway resistance and that allergen-induced chemokine production and consequent eosinophilia is dictated by the balance between IL-4 and IL-13 production in situ.
PMCID: PMC3197875  PMID: 21957151
Allergy; Lung; Cytokines; Chemokines; Cytokine receptors; Eosinophils
13.  81 Dose Response Relationship Between Ascaris Sensitisation and Atopy and Bronchial Hyper-Responsiveness but not Allergic Diseases in Black South Africans 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S43-S44.
The relationship between sensitisation to helminths and atopy, bronchial-hyperresponsiveness and allergic diseases may differ depending on many factors, including the genes of the population studied. We sought to examine this relationship in an African cohort.
Urban Xhosa children were tested for ascaris IgE levels, bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) by methacholine challenge, atopic sensitisation (skin tests to aeroallergens) and allergic disease (asthma, eczema and rhinitis) assessed by questionnaire.
Ascaris sensitisation was strongly associated with BHR but not with asthma, eczema or rhinitis. There was a dose-response relationship between increasing class of ascaris IgE and increased BHR (Prevalence ratio (PR) 1.75; CI 1.09-2.82). Higher levels of ascaris IgE were seen in those with BHR. Ascaris IgE was associated with atopic sensitisation to aeroallergens. There was a dose-response relationship between increasing class of ascaris IgE and sensitisation to one or more allergen (PR 1.65; CI, 1.27-2.13), sensitisation to house dust mites (HDM) (PR 1.79; CI, 1.29-2.46) and grass (PR 2.66; CI, 1.24-5.71) and number of positive skin prick tests (PR 1.78; CI, 1.27-2.49). Presence of any sensitisation to ascaris was associated with more than doubling the prevalence of HDM sensitisation (41.5 vs 18.5%) and almost quadrupling the prevalence of grass sensitisation (10.8 vs 2.8%).
Ascaris sensitisation was strongly associated with BHR and with atopy, but not with allergic diseases. Possible explanations might be that the type of ascaris infection that causes high levels of ascaris IgE in this genetic population may also favour the development of atopy or that atopics in Africa have upregulation of their defence system against parasitic infection. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive.
PMCID: PMC3512651
14.  Urinary levels of triclosan and parabens are associated with aeroallergen and food sensitization 
Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) have immune-modulating effects. We were interested in determining their association with allergic sensitization.
To determine the association between EDCs and allergic sensitization and if this relationship depended on the antimicrobial properties of the EDCs and/or gender.
Data were obtained from the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in which urinary bisphenol A, triclosan, benzophenone-3, and propyl, methyl, butyl and ethyl paraben, and specific IgE were available on 860 children. Aeroallergen and food sensitization were defined as having at least one positive (≥0.35 kU/L) specific IgE to an aeroallergen or a food. Logistic regression was used to determine the association of EDCs and sensitization. Analyses were adjusted for urinary creatinine, age, ethnicity, and poverty index ratio.
The odds of aeroallergen sensitization significantly increased with the level of the antimicrobial EDCs triclosan and propyl and butyl paraben (p≤0.04). The odds of food sensitization significantly increased with the level of urinary triclosan among male subjects (odds ratio for 3rd versus 1st tertile 3.9, p=0.02 for trend). There was a significant interaction between gender and triclosan, with males being more likely to be food sensitized with exposure (p=0.03). Similar associations were not identified for the non-antimicrobial EDCs bisphenol A and benzophenone-3 (p>0.2).
As a group, EDCs are not associated with allergen sensitization. However, levels of the antimicrobial EDCs triclosan and parabens were significantly associated with allergic sensitization. The potential role of antimicrobial EDCs in allergic disease warrants further study as they are commonly used in Western society.
PMCID: PMC3720124  PMID: 22704536
Triclosan; paraben; benzophenone; bisphenol A; endocrine disrupting compound; aeroallergen; sensitization; food; allergy
15.  570 Atopy Patch Test to Aeroallergens Extracts is Useful In Allergic Diseases Diagnosis When Skin Prick Test is Negative 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S197-S198.
The atopic diseases are generally diagnosed by performing skin prick tests (SPTs) to different aeroallergens. However, when this study results negative, it is possible to perform atopy patch test (APT). This technique has been introduced to evaluate sensitization to aeroallergens in patients with atopic eczema dermatitis syndrome. Nevertheless, its role in other allergic diseases has not been proved. Objective: Evaluate aeroallergens response using skin prick test (SPT) and atopy patch test (APT) in patients with allergic diseases.
Retrospective cohort study of individuals who performed SPT and APT as part of allergic diseases study. The study subjects were patch and skin prick tested to house dust mite (Dermatophagoides), trees, grass and fungi mix, cat and dog dander, among others. The tests were performed at the respiratory allergic disease center of Santa Maria Clinic in Santiago, Chile, between January 2010 and April 2011.
Fifty-five patients were included, 18 (33%) males and 37 (67%) females, median age 6 years (range from 3 months to 62 years), with the following diagnosis: atopic dermatitis syndrome (60%), allergic rhinitis (58%), contact allergic dermatitis (16%), asthma (9%), recurrent bronchial obstructive syndrome (7%), allergic rhinoconjuctivitis (4%), chronic cough (4%), recurrent acute otitis media (2%) and recurrent laryngitis (2%). They underwent usual SPTs and APTs with multiple aeroallergens extracts. Of the 55 patients, 22 showed a positive SPT and 32 a positive APT; in 14 (25%) both, SPT and APT were positive. In 8 (15%) the SPT was positive and APT negative, while in 18 (33%) the SPT was negative, but the APT positive. Fifteen (27%) were negative to both tests.
Our results show that APT might be a useful diagnosis test in patients with allergic diseases and that its routine use can improve their diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3513076
16.  Epigenetic Alterations by DNA Methylation in House Dust Mite–Induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness 
Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic lung diseases, affecting 235 million individuals around the world, with its related morbidity and mortality increasing steadily over the last 20 years. Exposure to the environmental allergen, house dust mite (HDM), results in airway inflammation with a variable degree of airway obstruction. Although there has been much experimental work in the past using HDM challenge models to understand mechanistic details in allergic inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), there has been no study on reprogramming of lung or airways mediated through epigenetic mechanisms in response to an acute HDM exposure. Male mice, 6 weeks of age, were administrated HDM extracts or saline at Days 1, 14, and 21. Exposure of mice to HDM extracts caused significant airway inflammation and increased AHR. These HDM-challenged mice also exhibited a change in global DNA methylation as compared with saline-exposed (control) mice. Next, by employing methylation-sensitive restriction fingerprinting, we identified a set of genes, showing aberrant methylation status, associated with the HDM-induced AHR. These candidate genes are known to be involved in cAMP signaling (pde4 d), Akt-signaling (akt1 s1), ion transport (tm6 sf1, pom121l2, and slc8a3), and fatty acid metabolism (acsl3). Slc8a3 and acsl3 were down-regulated, whereas pde4 d, akt1 s1, tm6 sf1, and pom121l2 were up-regulated in the mice exposed to HDM. Hence, our results suggest that HDM exposure induces a series of aberrant methylated genes that are potentially important for the development of allergic AHR.
PMCID: PMC3824034  PMID: 23526225
airway hyperresponsiveness; DNA methylation; epigenetics; house dust mite
17.  Seasonal Variation in Skin Sensitivity to Aeroallergens 
We previously demonstrated seasonal variation in sensitization to aeroallergens in a small group of patients with exercise-induced asthma. This study was performed to confirm the relationship in a much larger population.
The charts of 1,891 patients who received allergy skin prick tests were reviewed retrospectively. The test results from subjects aged ≤60 years were compared between the groups classified according to the season when the patients received the tests (spring: March-May, summer: June-August, fall: September-November, winter: December-February). The data from 25 respiratory allergy patients who received the tests two or more times and showed a positive response at least once were analyzed longitudinally.
The most prevalent among 29 tested aeroallergens were house dust mites (HDMs) Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and D. farinae. The skin sensitization rates to D. pteronyssinus (23.2% vs. 32.1%, P=0.004) and D. farinae (22.2% vs. 30.2%, P=0.009) were significantly lower in the summer and higher in the fall (38.3% vs. 26.6% and 35.6% vs. 25.3%; P=0.001 respectively) than those in other seasons in patients with a respiratory allergy (n=1,102). The sensitization rates to weed pollens in the fall (13.9% vs. 8.3%, P=0.006) and to Aspergillus fumigatus in the winter (2.9% vs. 0.7%, P=0.005) were significantly higher. In patients with non-respiratory allergy such as urticaria/anaphylaxis (n=340), the D. farinae sensitization rate was significantly lower in the summer also but higher in the spring. The trend of the HDM sensitization rate being lower in the summer and higher in the fall was observed in the longitudinal study.
Skin sensitivity to aeroallergens such as HDMs, pollens, and molds demonstrates seasonal variation in respiratory allergy patients. Non-respiratory allergy patients also showed seasonal variation in sensitivity to aeroallergens, which might be related to the "priming" effect of allergens.
PMCID: PMC3756177  PMID: 24003387
Seasonal variation; skin sensitivity; aeroallergens; allergy
18.  A longitudinal analysis of associations between traffic-related air pollution with asthma, allergies and sensitization in the GINIplus and LISAplus birth cohorts 
PeerJ  2013;1:e193.
Background. There is a need to study whether the adverse effects of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) on childhood asthma and allergic diseases documented during early-life persist into later childhood. This longitudinal study examined whether TRAP is associated with the prevalence of asthma, allergic rhinitis and aeroallergen sensitization in two German cohorts followed from birth to 10 years.
Materials. Questionnaire-derived annual reports of doctor diagnosed asthma and allergic rhinitis, as well as eye and nose symptoms, were collected from 6,604 children. Aeroallergen sensitization was assessed for 3,655 children who provided blood samples. Associations between these health outcomes and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particles with aerodynamic diameters less than 2.5 µg/m3 (PM2.5) mass, PM2.5 absorbance and ozone, individually estimated for each child at the birth, six and 10 year home addresses, were assessed using generalized estimation equations including adjustments for relevant covariates. Odds ratios [95% confidence intervals] per increase in interquartile range of pollutant are presented for the total population and per geographical area (GINI/LISA South, GINI/LISA North and LISA East, Germany).
Results. The risk estimates for the total population were generally null across outcomes and pollutants. The area-specific results were heterogeneous. In GINI/LISA North, all associations were null. In LISA East, associations with ozone were elevated for all outcomes, and those for allergic rhinitis and eyes and nose symptom prevalence reached statistical significance (1.30 [1.02, 1.64] and 1.35 [1.16, 1.59], respectively). For GINI/LISA South, two associations with aeroallergen sensitization were significant (0.84 [0.73, 0.97] for NO2 and 0.87 [0.78, 0.97] for PM2.5 absorbance), as well as the association between allergic rhinitis and PM2.5 absorbance (0.83 [0.72, 0.96]).
Conclusions. This study did not find consistent evidence that TRAP increases the prevalence of childhood asthma, allergic rhinitis or aeroallergen sensitization in later childhood using data from birth cohort participants followed for 10 years in three locations in Germany. Results were heterogeneous across the three areas investigated.
PMCID: PMC3828611  PMID: 24255809
Asthma; Allergies; Air pollution; Birth cohort; Children; Long-term exposure; Traffic
The degree to which aeroallergens are contributing to the global increase in pediatric allergic disease is incompletely understood. We review the evidence that links climate change to changes in aeroallergens such as pollen and outdoor mold concentrations and subsequently, aeroallergen association with pediatric allergic disease. We specifically explore the evidence on both the exacerbation and the development of allergic disease in children related to outdoor pollen and mold concentrations. Pediatric allergic diseases include atopic dermatitis or eczema, allergic rhinitis or hay fever, and some types of asthma in children, typically defined as less than 18 years of age. We discuss how the timing of aeroallergen exposure both in utero and in childhood could be associated with allergies. We conclude that the magnitude and type of health impacts due to climate change will depend on improved understanding of the relationship between climatic variables, multiple allergen factors, and allergic disease. Improved public health strategies such as adequate humidity control, optimum air filtration and ventilation, and improved anticipatory public health messaging will be critical to adaptation.
PMCID: PMC3075981  PMID: 21259264
aeroallergen; allergic rhinitis; ambient air; atopy; fungal spore; global warming; greenhouse gas; sensitization
20.  Mold damage in homes and wheezing in infants 
In most studies that investigate the association of mold or water damage and respiratory disorders in infants, the analysis is not adjusted for exposure to house dust mite (HDM), which is also a known cause of respiratory illnesses.
To investigate the relationship between visually observable mold or water damage and HDM (Der f 1) levels and the prevalence of lower respiratory tract symptoms and allergen sensitization in infants of atopic parents as part of a prospective birth cohort study.
On-site home visits (at the infants’ age of 8 months) were performed to evaluate observable mold or water damage and HDM exposure. At a clinic visit near the infant’s first birthday, medical histories, including parent-reported wheezing episodes, and a skin prick test to food and 15 common aeroallergens were conducted in 640 infants.
More than half of the homes were found to have mold or water damage, and 5% had major mold or water damage with visible mold at 0.2 m2 or more. Only 16% of homes had a HDM allergen (Der f 1) concentration of more than 2 μg/g. Major mold or water damage increased the risk of recurrent wheezing nearly 2 times in infants, 5 times in food or aeroallergen-sensitized infants, and 6 times in aeroallergen-sensitized infants. Neither visible mold or water damage nor HDM exposure was associated with sensitization to either mold or aeroallergens.
Visible mold was shown to be a significant risk factor for recurrent wheezing in infants at high risk of developing atopic disorders, whereas HDM exposure did not significantly increase the risk.
PMCID: PMC2233984  PMID: 17069111
21.  Resident CD11b+Ly6C− Lung Dendritic Cells Are Responsible for Allergic Airway Sensitization to House Dust Mite in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53242.
Conventional dendritic cells (DCs) are considered to be the prime initiators of airway allergy. Yet, it remains unclear whether specific DC subsets are preferentially involved in allergic airway sensitization. Here, we systematically assessed the respective pro-allergic potential of individually sorted lung DC subsets isolated from house dust mite antigen (HDM)-treated donor mice, following transfer to naïve recipients. Transfer of lung CD11c+CD11b+ DCs, but not CD11c+CD11b−CD103+ DCs, was sufficient to prime airway allergy. The CD11c+CD11b+ DC subpopulation was composed of CD11c+CD11b+Ly6C+ inflammatory monocyte-derived cells, whose numbers increase in the lungs following HDM exposure, and of CD11c+CD11b+Ly6C− DCs, which remain stable. Counterintuitively, only CD11c+CD11b+Ly6C− DCs, and not CD11c+CD11b+Ly6C+ DCs, were able to convey antigen to the lymph nodes and induce adaptive T cell responses and subsequent airway allergy. Our results thus support that lung resident non-inflammatory CD11c+CD11b+Ly6C− DCs are the essential inducers of allergic airway sensitization to the common aeroallergen HDM in mice.
PMCID: PMC3534017  PMID: 23300898
22.  Severity of Allergic Airway Disease Due to House Dust Mite Allergen Is Not Increased after Clinical Recovery of Lung Infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae in Mice 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(9):3366-3374.
Chlamydia pneumoniae is associated with chronic inflammatory lung diseases like bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The existence of a causal link between allergic airway disease and C. pneumoniae is controversial. A mouse model was used to address the question of whether preceding C. pneumoniae lung infection and recovery modifies the outcome of experimental allergic asthma after subsequent sensitization with house dust mite (HDM) allergen. After intranasal infection, BALB/c mice suffered from pneumonia characterized by an increased clinical score, reduction of body weight, histopathology, and a bacterial load in the lungs. After 4 weeks, when infection had almost resolved clinically, HDM allergen sensitization was performed for another 4 weeks. Subsequently, mice were subjected to a methacholine hyperresponsiveness test and sacrificed for further analyses. As expected, after 8 weeks, C. pneumoniae-specific antibodies were detectable only in infected mice and the titer was significantly higher in the C. pneumoniae/HDM allergen-treated group than in the C. pneumoniae/NaCl group. Intriguingly, airway hyperresponsiveness and eosinophilia in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were significantly lower in the C. pneumoniae/HDM allergen-treated group than in the mock/HDM allergen-treated group. We did observe a relationship between experimental asthma and chlamydial infection. Our results demonstrate an influence of sensitization to HDM allergen on the development of a humoral antibacterial response. However, our model demonstrates no increase in the severity of experimental asthma to HDM allergen as a physiological allergen after clinically resolved severe chlamydial lung infection. Our results rather suggest that allergic airway disease and concomitant cellular changes in mice are decreased following C. pneumoniae lung infection in this setting.
PMCID: PMC3754214  PMID: 23817611
23.  Breastfeeding Might Have Protective Effects on Atopy in Children With the CD14C-159T CT/CC Genotype 
Breastfeeding is widely recommended to reduce risk of sensitization, eczema and asthma. However, the role of breastfeeding in prevention of allergic diseases is uncertain. We aimed to investigate whether the relationship between breastfeeding and sensitization to aeroallergens is modified by cluster of differentiation 14 (CD14) genotype. This study included 1,828 school children aged 9-12. We administered a detailed questionnaire and genotyped the CD14C-159T polymorphism. Skin prick tests for 12 aeroallergens were performed. School children who had been breastfed were less likely sensitized to aeroallergens (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.712, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.555-0.914). There was no significant association between CD14C-159T genotype and atopy. Breastfeeding was associated with a decreased risk of atopic sensitization in children with CT/CC genotype (aOR 0.667, 95% CI: 0.463-0.960). Our data might identify the gene-environment interaction between the CD14C-159T polymorphism and breastfeeding in relation to aeroallergen sensitization.
PMCID: PMC3695239  PMID: 23814678
Breastfeeding; cluster of differentiation 14 (CD14); gene-environmental interaction; sensitization to aeroallergens
24.  Aeroallergen-induced eosinophilic inflammation, lung damage, and airways hyperreactivity in mice can occur independently of IL-4 and allergen-specific immunoglobulins. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;99(6):1329-1339.
In this investigation we have used a mouse model containing certain phenotypic characteristics consistent with asthma and IL-4- and CD40-deficient mice to establish the role of this cytokine and allergen-specific immunoglobulins in the initiation of airways hyperreactivity and morphological changes to the airways in responses to aeroallergen challenge. Sensitization and aerosol challenge of mice with ovalbumin resulted in a severe airways inflammatory response which directly correlated with the induction of extensive airways damage and airways hyperreactivity to beta-methacholine. Inflammatory infiltrates were primarily characterized by the presence of CD4+ T cells and eosinophils. In IL-4-deficient mice, the recruitment of airways eosinophils was impaired, but not abolished in response to aeroallergen. Moreover, the characteristic airways damage and hyperreactivity normally resulting from allergen inhalation were not attenuated. Induction of these structural and functional changes to the airways occurred in the absence of ovalbumin-specific IgE and IgG1, but IgG2a and IgG3 were detected in the sera of IL-4-deficient mice. CD4+ T cells isolated from both wild-type and IL-4-deficient mice given ovalbumin produced significant levels of IL-5 after in vitro stimulation. Treatment of IL-4-deficient mice with anti-IL-5 mAb before aeroallergen challenge abolished blood and airways eosinophilia, lung damage, and airways hyperreactivity. These results indicate that IL-4 is not essential for the development of IL-5-producing CD4+ T cells or for the induction of eosinophilic inflammation and airways damage and hyperreactivity. In response to sensitization and aerosol challenge, CD40-deficient mice did not produce ovalbumin-specific IgE, IgG isotypes, or IgA, and airways inflammation and hyperreactivity were not attenuated. Our results suggest that allergic airways disease can occur via pathways which operate independently of IL-4 and allergen-specific immunoglobulins. Activation of these pathways is intimately associated with IL-5 and eosinophilic inflammation. Such pathways may play a substantive role in the etiology of asthma.
PMCID: PMC507949  PMID: 9077543
25.  Allergy: A Risk Factor for Suicide? 
Opinion statement
The rates of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance (suicide risk factors) are greater in patients with allergic rhinitis than in the general population. The rate of allergy is also greater in patients with depression. Preliminary data suggest that patients with a history of allergy may have an increased rate of suicide. Clinicians should actively inquire to diagnose allergy in patients with depression and depression in patients with allergy.
Spring peaks of suicide are highly replicated, but their origin is poorly understood. Preliminary epidemiologic data suggest that seasonal spring peaks in aeroallergens are associated with seasonal spring peaks in suicide. Our research in Brown Norway rats demonstrates that sensitization and exposure to aeroallergens induces anxiety-like and aggressive behaviors as well as allergy-related helper T-cell type 2 (Th2) cytokine gene expression in the prefrontal cortex. Thus, it is possible that sensitization and exposure to aeroallergens, which peak in spring, may be conducive to seasonal exacerbation of suicide risk factors such as anxiety, depression, hostility/ aggression, and sleep disturbance. Connecting allergy with suicide and suicide risk factors adds to previous neurologic literature connecting allergy with migraines and seizure disorders.
Our recent report of Th2 (allergy-mediating) cytokine expression in the orbito-frontal cortex of suicide victims should lead to future studies to test the hypothesis that mediators of allergic inflammation in the nasal cavities may result in Th2 cytokine expression in the brain, influencing affect and behavioral modulation.
Certain medications used to treat allergy can exacerbate suicide risk factors, potentially worsening suicide risk and even triggering suicide. Systemic (but not topical) corticosteroids have been associated with manic and depressive episodes and mixed mood states. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration started investigating the possibility that montelukast may trigger suicide. Although this association requires further exploration and confirmation, clinicians should err on the side of caution, inquiring about past suicide attempts; hopelessness; reasons for living; and suicidal ideation, intent, or plan; and referring the patient to a mental health professional for evaluation if appropriate.
PMCID: PMC2592251  PMID: 18782509

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