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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Orchestrating house dust mite-associated allergy in the lung 
Trends in immunology  2011;32(9):402-411.
House dust mites (HDM; Dermatophagoides sp.) are one of the commonest aeroallergens worldwide and up to 85% of asthmatics are typically HDM allergic. Allergenicity is associated both with the mites themselves and with ligands derived from mite-associated bacterial and fungal products. Murine models of allergic airways disease for asthma research have recently switched from the use of surrogate allergen ovalbumin together with adjuvant to use of the HDM extract. This has accelerated understanding of how adaptive and innate immunity generate downstream pathology. We review the myriad ways in which HDM allergic responses are orchestrated. Understanding the molecular pathways that elicit HDM-associated pathology is likely to reveal novel targets for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC3381841  PMID: 21783420
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  Pathophysiological Features of Asthma Develop in Parallel in House Dust Mite–Exposed Neonatal Mice 
Asthma frequently commences in early life during airway and immune development and exposure to new environmental challenges. Endobronchial biopsies from children with asthma are abnormal, and lung function is maximally reduced by 6 years of age. As longitudinal biopsy studies are unethical in children, the relationship between development of pathology and reduced lung function is unknown. We aimed to establish a novel neonatal mouse model of allergic airways disease to investigate the developmental sequence of the pathophysiologic features of asthma. Neonatal Balb/c mice were challenged three times weekly from Day 3 of life using intranasal house dust mite (HDM) or saline for up to 12 weeks. Weekly assessments of airway inflammation and remodeling were made. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine was assessed from Week 2 onward. Total and eosinophilic inflammation was significantly increased in the lungs of HDM-exposed neonates from Week 2 onwards, and a peak was seen at 3 weeks. Goblet cells and peribronchiolar reticulin deposition were significantly increased in HDM-exposed neonates from Week 3, and peribronchiolar collagen was significantly greater from Week 4. HDM-exposed neonates had increased AHR from Week 2 onward. Although inflammation and AHR had subsided after 4 weeks without allergen challenge, the increased reticulin and collagen deposition persisted in HDM-exposed mice. Neonatal mice exposed to intranasal HDM developed eosinophilic inflammation, airway remodeling, and AHR as reported in pediatric asthma. Importantly, all abnormalities developed in parallel, not sequentially, between 2 and 3 weeks of age.
PMCID: PMC3380517  PMID: 19151316
pediatric; remodeling; asthma pathophysiology; mouse model; allergic airways disease
13.  New Insights into the Natural History of Asthma: Primary Prevention on the Horizon 
Recent studies of the natural history of asthma have shifted attention towards viral respiratory illness in early life as a major risk factor associated with the development of the most persistent forms of the disease. Although early aeroallergen sensitization is strongly associated with chronic asthma, several trials in which single aeroallergen exposure in pregnancy and early childhood was successfully accomplished and compared with sham avoidance have failed to show any decrease in asthma incidence. New evidence suggests that complex interactions occur between viral infection and aeroallergen sensitization in genetically susceptible subjects, which trigger the immune responses and airway changes that are characteristic of persistent asthma. The finding that exposure to bacterial products among children raised on farms is associated with diminished asthma prevalence during the school years has now been replicated, and experimental studies have suggested that these effects are mediated by the activation of T-regulatory cells in the airway. It is thus plausible to hypothesize that primary prevention of asthma could be attained through surrogate therapeutic interventions that activate similar mechanisms in young children at high risk for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3963825  PMID: 22036094
14.  A comparison between intratracheal and inhalation delivery of Aspergillus fumigatus conidia in the development of fungal allergic asthma in C57BL/6 mice 
Fungal biology  2010;115(1):21-29.
Allergic asthma is a debilitating disease of the airways characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness, eosinophilic inflammation, goblet cell metaplasia with associated mucus hypersecretion, and airway wall remodelling events, particularly subepithelial fibrosis and smooth muscle cell hyperplasia. Animal models that accurately mimic these hallmarks of allergic airways disease are critical for studying mechanisms associated with the cellular and structural changes that lead to disease pathogenesis. Aspergillus fumigatus, is a common aeroallergen of human asthmatics. The intratracheal (IT) delivery of A. fumigatus conidia into the airways of sensitized mice has been described as a model of allergic disease. Here, we compared the IT model with a newly developed inhalation (IH) challenge model. The IH model allowed multiple fungal exposures, which resulted in an exacerbation to the allergic asthma phenotype. Increased recruitment of eosinophils and lymphocytes, the hallmark leukocytes of asthma, were noted with the IH model as compared to the IT model in which macrophages and neutrophils were more prominent. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) production was significantly greater after IH challenge, while that of IgG2a was higher after IT challenge. Airway wall remodelling was pronounced in IH-treated mice, particularly after multiple allergen challenges. Although the IT model may be appropriate for the examination of the played by innate cells in the acute response to fungus, it fails to consistently reproduce the chronic remodelling hallmarks of allergic asthma. The ability of the IH challenge to mimic these characteristics recommends it as a model suited to study these important events.
PMCID: PMC3053007  PMID: 21215951
Aspergillus fumigatus; Allergic asthma; Inhalation challenge model
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
16.  Mucosal exposure to cockroach extract induces allergic sensitization and allergic airway inflammation 
Allergic sensitization to aeroallergens develops in response to mucosal exposure to these allergens. Allergic sensitization may lead to the development of asthma, which is characterized by chronic airway inflammation. The objective of this study is to describe in detail a model of mucosal exposure to cockroach allergens in the absence of an exogenous adjuvant.
Cockroach extract (CE) was administered to mice intranasally (i.n.) daily for 5 days, and 5 days later mice were challenged with CE for 4 consecutive days. A second group received CE i.n. for 3 weeks. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) was assessed 24 h after the last allergen exposure. Allergic airway inflammation was assessed by BAL and lung histology 48 h after the last allergen exposure. Antigen-specific antibodies were assessed in serum. Lungs were excised from mice from measurement of cytokines and chemokines in whole lung lysate.
Mucosal exposure of Balb/c mice to cockroach extract induced airway eosinophilic inflammation, AHR and cockroach-specific IgG1; however, AHR to methacholine was absent in the long term group. Lung histology showed patchy, multicentric damage with inflammatory infiltrates at the airways in both groups. Lungs from mice from the short term group showed increased IL-4, CCL11, CXCL1 and CCL2 protein levels. IL4 and CXCL1 were also increased in the BAL of cockroach-sensitized mice in the short-term protocol.
Mucosal exposure to cockroach extract in the absence of adjuvant induces allergic airway sensitization characterized by AHR, the presence of Th2 cytokines in the lung and eosinophils in the airways.
PMCID: PMC3264496  PMID: 22168152
17.  Differential Effects of Rapamycin and Dexamethasone in Mouse Models of Established Allergic Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54426.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays an important role in cell growth/differentiation, integrating environmental cues, and regulating immune responses. Our lab previously demonstrated that inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin prevented house dust mite (HDM)-induced allergic asthma in mice. Here, we utilized two treatment protocols to investigate whether rapamycin, compared to the steroid, dexamethasone, could inhibit allergic responses during the later stages of the disease process, namely allergen re-exposure and/or during progression of chronic allergic disease. In protocol 1, BALB/c mice were sensitized to HDM (three i.p. injections) and administered two intranasal HDM exposures. After 6 weeks of rest/recovery, mice were re-exposed to HDM while being treated with rapamycin or dexamethasone. In protocol 2, mice were exposed to HDM for 3 or 6 weeks and treated with rapamycin or dexamethasone during weeks 4–6. Characteristic features of allergic asthma, including IgE, goblet cells, airway hyperreactivity (AHR), inflammatory cells, cytokines/chemokines, and T cell responses were assessed. In protocol 1, both rapamycin and dexamethasone suppressed goblet cells and total CD4+ T cells including activated, effector, and regulatory T cells in the lung tissue, with no effect on AHR or total inflammatory cell numbers in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Rapamycin also suppressed IgE, although IL-4 and eotaxin 1 levels were augmented. In protocol 2, both drugs suppressed total CD4+ T cells, including activated, effector, and regulatory T cells and IgE levels. IL-4, eotaxin, and inflammatory cell numbers were increased after rapamycin and no effect on AHR was observed. Dexamethasone suppressed inflammatory cell numbers, especially eosinophils, but had limited effects on AHR. We conclude that while mTOR signaling is critical during the early phases of allergic asthma, its role is much more limited once disease is established.
PMCID: PMC3547928  PMID: 23349887
18.  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
19.  Chronic sinusitis pathophysiology: The role of allergy 
Chronic hyperplastic eosinophilic sinusitis (CHES) is an inflammatory disease characterized by eosinophil infiltration of sinus tissue that can present with and without nasal polyps (NPs). Aeroallergen sensitization in CHES occurs regularly, but the causality between allergen sensitivity, exposure, and disease is unclear.
Allergen is unlikely to directly enter healthy sinuses either by diffusion or ciliary flow, and, even this is more problematic given the loss of patency of the ostia of diseased sinuses. Inflammation and tissue eosinophilia can develop secondary to allergen exposure in the nares, with systemic humoral recirculation of allergic cells including eosinophils, Th2 lymphocytes, and eosinophil precursors that are nonspecifically recruited back to the diseased sinuses.
The possibility of an allergic reaction to peptides derived from bacteria (i.e., Staphylococcus or superantigens) or fungi that colonize the diseased sinus also provides a plausible allergic mechanism.
Treatments of this disease include agents directed at allergic mediators such as leukotriene modifiers and corticosteroids, although this does not necessarily signify that an IgE-dependent mechanism can be ascribed. However, more recently, omalizumab has shown promise, including in patients without obvious aeroallergen sensitization. Although many aspects of the role of allergy in CHES remain a mystery, the mechanisms that are being elucidated allow for improved understanding of this disease, which ultimately will lead to better treatments for our patients who live daily with this disease.
PMCID: PMC3781389  PMID: 23601202
Allergy; chronic hyperplastic eosinophilic sinusitis; chronic sinusitis; eosinophil; nasal polyposis; omalizumab; Staphylococcus; superantigen; systemic humoral recirculation
20.  The most common aeroallergens in a tropical region in Southwestern Iran 
Respiratory allergies are the most important public health issues in the world. They are caused by aeroallergens which play great role in pathogenesis of respiratory allergic diseases.
The current study was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of positive skin test for various aeroallergens among allergic patients in Ahvaz, southwest Iran. 299 participants with allergic rhinitis (seasonal or perennial) were selected. Skin prick test using twenty three common allergen extracts was performed on all patients.
The overall frequency of sensitization to any allergen was 85.6%. In outdoor allergens the most prevalent aeroallergen category was weeds (89%) followed by tree and grasses, and in indoor allergens, mites (43%) were the most prevalent aeroallergen. The mean and median numbers of positive test reactions among those with positive test responses were 11.5 and 13.0, respectively. 84% of patients were poly-sensitised and about 50% of them were sensitised to more than twelve different allergens.
The results of the study revealed that prevalence of the skin prick reactivity to weed pollens is significant in southwest Iran and multiple sensitizations were common.
PMCID: PMC3651228  PMID: 23663517
Aeroallergen; Prevalence; Allergy; Tropical; Sensitization
21.  Interleukin 5 deficiency abolishes eosinophilia, airways hyperreactivity, and lung damage in a mouse asthma model  
Airways inflammation is thought to play a central role in the pathogenesis of asthma. However, the precise role that individual inflammatory cells and mediators play in the development of airways hyperreactivity and the morphological changes of the lung during allergic pulmonary inflammation is unknown. In this investigation we have used a mouse model of allergic pulmonary inflammation and interleukin (IL) 5-deficient mice to establish the essential role of this cytokine and eosinophils in the initiation of aeroallergen-induced lung damage and the development of airways hyperreactivity. Sensitization and aerosol challenge of mice with ovalbumin results in airways eosinophilia and extensive lung damage analogous to that seen in asthma. Aeroallergen-challenged mice also display airways hyperreactivity to beta-methacholine. In IL-5-deficient mice, the eosinophilia, lung damage, and airways hyperreactivity normally resulting from aeroallergen challenge were abolished. Reconstitution of IL-5 production with recombinant vaccinia viruses engineered to express this factor completely restored aeroallergen-induced eosinophilia and airways dysfunction. These results indicate that IL-5 and eosinophils are central mediators in the pathogenesis of allergic lung disease.
PMCID: PMC2192412  PMID: 8551223
22.  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
23.  Neutralization of TSLP Inhibits Airway Remodeling in a Murine Model of Allergic Asthma Induced by Chronic Exposure to House Dust Mite 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51268.
Chronic allergic asthma is characterized by Th2-typed inflammation, and contributes to airway remodeling and the deterioration of lung function. However, the initiating factor that links airway inflammation to remodeling is unknown. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), an epithelium-derived cytokine, can strongly activate lung dendritic cells (DCs) through the TSLP-TSLPR and OX40L-OX40 signaling pathways to promote Th2 differentiation. To determine whether TSLP is the underlying trigger of airway remodeling in chronic allergen-induced asthma, we induced allergic airway inflammation in mice by intranasal administration of house dust mite (HDM) extracts for up to 5 consecutive weeks. We showed that repeated respiratory exposure to HDM caused significant airway eosinophilic inflammation, peribronchial collagen deposition, goblet cell hyperplasia, and airway hyperreactivity (AHR) to methacholine. These effects were accompanied with a salient Th2 response that was characterized by the upregulation of Th2-typed cytokines, such as IL-4 and IL-13, as well as the transcription factor GATA-3. Moreover, the levels of TSLP and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) were also increased in the airway. We further demonstrated, using the chronic HDM-induced asthma model, that the inhibition of Th2 responses via neutralization of TSLP with an anti-TSLP mAb reversed airway inflammation, prevented structural alterations, and decreased AHR to methacholine and TGF-β1 level. These results suggest that TSLP plays a pivotal role in the initiation and persistence of airway inflammation and remodeling in the context of chronic allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3534685  PMID: 23300949
24.  Chronic Respiratory Aeroallergen Exposure in Mice Induces Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in the Large Airways 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16175.
Chronic allergic asthma is characterized by Th2-polarized inflammation and leads to airway remodeling and fibrosis but the mechanisms involved are not clear. To determine whether epithelial-mesenchymal transition contributes to airway remodeling in asthma, we induced allergic airway inflammation in mice by intranasal administration of house dust mite (HDM) extract for up to 15 consecutive weeks. We report that respiratory exposure to HDM led to significant airway inflammation and thickening of the smooth muscle layer in the wall of the large airways. Transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1) levels increased in mouse airways while epithelial cells lost expression of E-cadherin and occludin and gained expression of the mesenchymal proteins vimentin, alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and pro-collagen I. We also observed increased expression and nuclear translocation of Snail1, a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin and a potent inducer of EMT, in the airway epithelial cells of HDM-exposed mice. Furthermore, fate-mapping studies revealed migration of airway epithelial cells into the sub-epithelial regions of the airway wall. These results show the contribution of EMT to airway remodeling in chronic asthma-like inflammation and suggest that Th2-polarized airway inflammation can trigger invasion of epithelial cells into the subepithelial regions of the airway wall where they contribute to fibrosis, demonstrating a previously unknown plasticity of the airway epithelium in allergic airway disease.
PMCID: PMC3024415  PMID: 21283768
25.  Differential expression and function of breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39) in murine models of subacute cigarette smoke exposure and allergic airway inflammation 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):39.
While the presence of the chitinase-like molecule YKL40 has been reported in COPD and asthma, its relevance to inflammatory processes elicited by cigarette smoke and common environmental allergens, such as house dust mite (HDM), is not well understood. The objective of the current study was to assess expression and function of BRP-39, the murine equivalent of YKL40 in a murine model of cigarette smoke-induced inflammation and contrast expression and function to a model of HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation.
CD1, C57BL/6, and BALB/c mice were room air- or cigarette smoke-exposed for 4 days in a whole-body exposure system. In separate experiments, BALB/c mice were challenged with HDM extract once a day for 10 days. BRP-39 was assessed by ELISA and immunohistochemistry. IL-13, IL-1R1, IL-18, and BRP-39 knock out (KO) mice were utilized to assess the mechanism and relevance of BRP-39 in cigarette smoke- and HDM-induced airway inflammation.
Cigarette smoke exposure elicited a robust induction of BRP-39 but not the catalytically active chitinase, AMCase, in lung epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages of all mouse strains tested. Both BRP-39 and AMCase were increased in lung tissue after HDM exposure. Examining smoke-exposed IL-1R1, IL-18, and IL-13 deficient mice, BRP-39 induction was found to be IL-1 and not IL-18 or IL-13 dependent, while induction of BRP-39 by HDM was independent of IL-1 and IL-13. Despite the importance of BRP-39 in cellular inflammation in HDM-induced airway inflammation, BRP-39 was found to be redundant for cigarette smoke-induced airway inflammation and the adjuvant properties of cigarette smoke.
These data highlight the contrast between the importance of BRP-39 in HDM- and cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. While functionally important in HDM-induced inflammation, BRP-39 is a biomarker of cigarette smoke induced inflammation which is the byproduct of an IL-1 inflammatory pathway.
PMCID: PMC3079621  PMID: 21473774

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