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1.  Chitotriosidase in the Pathogenesis of Inflammation, Interstitial Lung Diseases and COPD 
As a member of 18 glycosyl hydrolase (GH) family, chitotriosidase (Chitinase 1, CHIT1) is a true chitinase mainly expressed in the differentiated and polarized macrophages. CHIT1 is an innate immune mediator that digests the cell walls of chitin-containing eukaryotic pathogens, such as fungi. However, CHIT1 is dysregulated in granulomatous and fibrotic interstitial lung diseases characterized by inflammation and tissue remodeling. These include tuberclosis, sarcoidosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, scleroderma-associated interstitial lung diseases (SSc-ILD), and chronic obstructive lung diseases (COPD). CHIT1 serum concentration correlates with the progression or the severity of these diseases, suggesting a potential use of CHIT1 as a biomarker or a therapeutic target. Recent studies with genetically modified mice demonstrate that CHIT1 enhances TGF-β1 receptor expression and signaling, suggesting a role in initiating or amplifying the response to organ injury and repair. This additional CHIT1 activity is independent of its enzymatic activity. These studies suggest that CHIT1 serves a bridging function; it is both an innate immune mediator and a regulator of tissue remodeling. This review will focus on recent data linking CHIT1 to the pathogenesis of inflammation, interstitial lung disease, and COPD.
PMCID: PMC4274464  PMID: 25553258
Chitotriosidase; sarcoidosis; scleroderma; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; inflammation; TGF-beta
2.  Modifiers of TGF-β1 effector function as novel therapeutic targets of pulmonary fibrosis 
Pulmonary fibrosis is a fatal progressive disease with no effective therapy. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 has long been regarded as a central mediator of tissue fibrosis that involves multiple organs including skin, liver, kidney, and lung. Thus, TGF-β1 and its signaling pathways have been attractive therapeutic targets for the development of antifibrotic drugs. However, the essential biological functions of TGF-β1 in maintaining normal immune and cellular homeostasis significantly limit the effectiveness of TGF-β1-directed therapeutic approaches. Thus, targeting downstream mediators or signaling molecules of TGF-β1 could be an alternative approach that selectively inhibits TGF-β1-stimulated fibrotic tissue response while preserving major physiological function of TGF-β1. Recent studies from our laboratory revealed that TGF-β1 crosstalk with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling by induction of amphiregulin, a ligand of EGFR, plays a critical role in the development or progression of pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, chitotriosidase, a true chitinase in humans, has been identified to have modulating capacity of TGF-β1 signaling as a new biomarker and therapeutic target of scleroderma-associated pulmonary fibrosis. These newly identified modifiers of TGF-β1 effector function significantly enhance the effectiveness and flexibility in targeting pulmonary fibrosis in which TGF-β1 plays a significant role.
PMCID: PMC4028515  PMID: 24851060
Transforming growth factor beta1; Pulmonary fibrosis; Response modifiers; Amphiregulin; Chitotriosidase
3.  Role of Breast Regression Protein–39 in the Pathogenesis of Cigarette Smoke–Induced Inflammation and Emphysema 
The exaggerated expression of chitinase-like protein YKL-40, the human homologue of breast regression protein–39 (BRP-39), was reported in a number of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the in vivo roles of YKL-40 in normal physiology or in the pathogenesis of specific diseases such as COPD remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that BRP-39/YKL-40 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)–induced emphysema. To test this hypothesis, 10-week-old wild-type and BRP-39 null mutant mice (BRP-39−/−) were exposed to room air (RA) and CS for up to 10 months. The expression of BRP-39 was significantly induced in macrophages, airway epithelial cells, and alveolar Type II cells in the lungs of CS-exposed mice compared with RA-exposed mice, at least in part via an IL-18 signaling–dependent pathway. The null mutation of BRP-39 significantly reduced CS-induced bronchoalveolar lavage and tissue inflammation. However, CS-induced epithelial cell apoptosis and alveolar destruction were further enhanced in the absence of BRP-39. Consistent with these findings in mice, the tissue expression of YKL-40 was significantly increased in the lungs of current smokers compared with the lungs of ex-smokers or nonsmokers. In addition, serum concentrations of YKL-40 were significantly higher in smokers with COPD than in nonsmokers or smokers without COPD. These studies demonstrate a novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in CS-induced inflammation and emphysematous destruction. These studies also underscore that maintaining physiologic concentrations of YKL-40 in the lung is therapeutically important in preventing excessive inflammatory responses or emphysematous alveolar destruction.
PMCID: PMC3135840  PMID: 20656949
YKL-40/BRP-39; COPD; emphysema; cigarette smoke
4.  Role of breast regression protein-39/YKL-40 in asthma and allergic responses 
BRP-39 and its human homolog YKL-40 have been regarded as a prototype of chitinase-like proteins (CLP) in mammals. Exaggerated levels of YKL-40 protein and/or mRNA have been noted in a number of diseases characterized by inflammation, tissue remodeling, and aberrant cell growth. Asthma is an inflammatory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness and airway remodeling. Recently, the novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in the pathogenesis of asthma has been demonstrated both in human studies and allergic animal models. The levels of YKL-40 are increased in the circulation and lungs from asthmatics where they correlate with disease severity, and CHI3L1 polymorphisms correlate with serum YKL-40 levels, asthma and abnormal lung function. Animal studies using BRP-39 null mutant mice demonstrated that BRP-39 was required for optimal allergen sensitization and Th2 inflammation. These studies suggest the potential use of BRP-39 as a biomarker as well as a therapeutic target for asthma and other allergic diseases. Here, we present an overview of chitin/chitinase biology and summarize recent findings on the role of BRP-39 in the pathogenesis of asthma and allergic responses.
PMCID: PMC2831605  PMID: 20224674
BRP-39; human CHI3L1 protein; asthma; hypersensitivity
5.  Endogenous IL-11 Signaling Is Essential in Th2- and IL-13–Induced Inflammation and Mucus Production 
IL-11 and IL-11 receptor (R)α are induced by Th2 cytokines. However, the role(s) of endogenous IL-11 in antigen-induced Th2 inflammation has not been fully defined. We hypothesized that IL-11, signaling via IL-11Rα, plays an important role in aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation and mucus metaplasia. To test this hypothesis, we compared the responses induced by the aeroallergen ovalbumin (OVA) in wild-type (WT) and IL-11Rα–null mutant mice. We also generated and defined the effects of an antagonistic IL-11 mutein on pulmonary Th2 responses. Increased levels of IgE, eosinophilic tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) inflammation, IL-13 production, and increased mucus production and secretion were noted in OVA-sensitized and -challenged WT mice. These responses were at least partially IL-11 dependent because each was decreased in mice with null mutations of IL-11Rα. Importantly, the administration of the IL-11 mutein to OVA-sensitized mice before aerosol antigen challenge also caused a significant decrease in OVA-induced inflammation, mucus responses, and IL-13 production. Intraperitoneal administration of the mutein to lung-specific IL-13–overexpressing transgenic mice also reduced BAL inflammation and airway mucus elaboration. These studies demonstrate that endogenous IL-11R signaling plays an important role in antigen-induced sensitization, eosinophilic inflammation, and airway mucus production. They also demonstrate that Th2 and IL-13 responses can be regulated by interventions that manipulate IL-11 signaling in the murine lung.
PMCID: PMC2586049  PMID: 18617680
IL-11; mutein; airway inflammation; mucus; IL-13
6.  P21 Regulates TGF-β1–Induced Pulmonary Responses via a TNF-α–Signaling Pathway 
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is an essential regulatory cytokine that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse facets of the injury and repair responses in the lung. The types of responses that it elicits can be appreciated in studies from our laboratory that demonstrated that the transgenic (Tg) overexpression of TGF-β1 in the murine lung causes epithelial apoptosis followed by fibrosis, inflammation, and parenchymal destruction. Because a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21, is a key regulator of apoptosis, we hypothesized that p21 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of TGF-β1–induced tissue responses. To test this hypothesis we evaluated the effect of TGF-β1 on the expression of p21 in the murine lung. We also characterized the effects of transgenic TGF-β1 in mice with wild-type and null mutant p21 loci. These studies demonstrate that TGF-β1 is a potent stimulator of p21 expression in the epithelial cells and macrophages in the murine lung. They also demonstrate that TGF-β1–induced lung inflammation, fibrosis, myofibroblast accumulation, and alveolar destruction are augmented in the absence of p21, and that these alterations are associated with exaggerated levels of apoptosis and caspase-3 activation. Finally, our studies further demonstrated that TGF-β1 induces p21 via a TNF-α–signaling pathway and that p21 is a negative modulator of TGF-β1–induced TNF-α expression. Collectively, our studies demonstrate that p21 regulates TGF-β1–induced apoptosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and alveolar remodeling by interacting with TNF-α–signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2258454  PMID: 17932374
TGF-β; p21; apoptosis; fibrosis; emphysema
7.  Chitin, Chitinases and Chitinase-like Proteins in Allergic Inflammation and Tissue Remodeling 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2009;50(1):22-30.
Chitin, the second most abundant polysaccharide in nature after cellulose, consist exoskeleton of lower organisms such as fungi, crustaceans and insects except mammals. Recently, several studies evaluated immunologic effects of chitin in vivo and in vitro and revealed new aspects of chitin regulation of innate and adaptive immune responses. It has been shown that exogenous chitin activates macrophages and other innate immune cells and also modulates adaptive type 2 allergic inflammation. These studies further demonstrate that chitin stimulate macrophages by interacting with different cell surface receptors such as macrophage mannose receptor, toll-like receptor 2 (TLR-2), C-type lectin receptor Dectin-1, and leukotriene B4 recepptor (BLT1). On the other hand, a number of chitinase or chitinase-like proteins (C/CLP) are ubiquitously expressed in the airways and intestinal tracts from insects to mammals. In general, these chitinase family proteins confer protective functions to the host against exogenous chitin-containing pathogens. However, substantial body of recent studies also set light on new roles of C/CLP in the development and progression of allergic inflammation and tissue remodeling. In this review, recent findings on the role of chitin and C/CLP in allergic inflammation and tissue remodeling will be highlighted and controversial and unsolved issues in this field of studies will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC2649864  PMID: 19259344
Chitin; chitinases; chitinase-like proteins; immunity; remodeling
8.  Chitinase 1 Is a Biomarker for and Therapeutic Target in Scleroderma-Associated Interstitial Lung Disease That Augments TGF-β1 Signaling 
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) with pulmonary fibrosis is an important manifestation in systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) where it portends a poor prognosis. However, biomarkers that predict the development and or severity of SSc-ILD have not been validated, and the pathogenetic mechanisms that engender this pulmonary response are poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate in two different patient cohorts that the levels of chitotriosidase (Chit1) bioactivity and protein are significantly increased in the circulation and lungs of SSc patients compared with demographically matched controls. We also demonstrate that, compared with patients without lung involvement, patients with ILD show high levels of circulating Chit1 activity that correlate with disease severity. Murine modeling shows that in comparison with wild-type mice, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis was significantly reduced in Chit1−/− mice and significantly enhanced in lungs from Chit1 overexpressing transgenic animals. In vitro studies also demonstrated that Chit1 interacts with TGF-β1 to augment fibroblast TGF-β receptors 1 and 2 expression and TGF-β–induced Smad and MAPK/ERK activation. These studies indicate that Chit1 is potential biomarker for ILD in SSc and a therapeutic target in SSc-associated lung fibrosis and demonstrate that Chit1 augments TGF-β1 effects by increasing receptor expression and canonical and noncanonical TGF-β1 signaling.
PMCID: PMC4336775  PMID: 22826322
9.  Role of RNase L in Viral PAMP/Influenza Virus and Cigarette Smoke-induced Inflammation and Remodeling 
Interactions between cigarette smoke (CS) exposure and viral infection play an important role(s) in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a variety of other disorders. A variety of lines of evidence suggest that this interaction induces exaggerated inflammatory, cytokine and tissue remodeling responses. We hypothesized that the 2′-5′OAS/RNase L system, an innate immune antiviral pathway, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of these exaggerated responses. To test this hypothesis we characterize the activation of 2′-5′ oligoadenylate synthase (OAS) in lungs from mice exposed to CS and viral PAMPs/live virus, alone and in combination. We also evaluated the inflammatory and remodeling responses induced by CS and virus/viral PAMPs in lungs from RNase L null and wild type mice. These studies demonstrate that CS and viral PAMPs/live virus interact in a synergistic manner to stimulate the production of select OAS moieties. They also demonstrate that RNase L plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of the exaggerated inflammatory, fibrotic, emphysematous, apoptotic, TGF-β1 and type I IFN responses induced by CS plus virus/viral PAMP in combination. These studies demonstrate that CS is an important regulator of antiviral innate immunity, highlight novel roles of RNase L in CS plus virus induced inflammation, tissue remodeling, apoptosis and cytokine elaboration and highlight pathways that may be operative in COPD and mechanistically-related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3750064  PMID: 23913960
10.  Chitinase 3-like 1 Regulates Cellular and Tissue Responses via IL-13 Receptor α2 
Cell reports  2013;4(4):830-841.
Members of the 18 glycosyl hydrolase (GH 18) gene family have been conserved over species and time and are dysregulated in inflammatory, infectious, remodeling, and neoplastic disorders. This is particularly striking for the prototypic chitinase-like protein chitinase 3-like 1 (Chi3l1), which plays a critical role in antipathogen responses where it augments bacterial killing while stimulating disease tolerance by controlling cell death, inflammation, and remodeling. However, receptors that mediate the effects of GH 18 moieties have not been defined. Here, we demonstrate that Chi3l1 binds to interleukin-13 receptor α2 (IL-13Rα2) and that Chi3l1, IL-13Rα2, and IL-13 are in a multimeric complex. We also demonstrate that Chi3l1 activates macrophage mitogen-activated protein kinase, protein kinase B/AKT, and Wnt/β-catenin signaling and regulates oxidant injury, apoptosis, pyroptosis, inflammasome activation, antibacterial responses, melanoma metastasis, and TGF-β1 production via IL-13Rα2-dependent mechanisms. Thus, IL-13Rα2 is a GH 18 receptor that plays a critical role in Chi3l1 effector responses.
PMCID: PMC3988532  PMID: 23972995
11.  Chitinase 3-like 1 is induced by Plasmodium falciparum malaria and predicts outcome of cerebral malaria and severe malarial anaemia in a case–control study of African children 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:279.
Severe and fatal malaria are associated with dysregulated host inflammatory responses to infection. Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) is a secreted glycoprotein implicated in regulating immune responses. Expression and function of CHI3L1 in malaria infection were investigated.
Plasma levels of CHI3L1 were quantified in a case–control study of Ugandan children presenting with Plasmodium falciparum malaria. CHI3L1 levels were compared in children with uncomplicated malaria (UM; n = 53), severe malarial anaemia (SMA; n = 59) and cerebral malaria (CM; n = 44) using the Kruskall Wallis-test, and evaluated for utility in predicting fatal (n = 23) versus non-fatal (n = 80) outcomes in severe disease using the Mann Whitney U test, receiver operating characteristic curves, and combinatorial analysis. Co-culture of P. falciparum with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and the Plasmodium berghei ANKA experimental model of cerebral malaria were used to examine the role of CHI3L1 in severe malaria.
In children presenting with falciparum malaria, CHI3L1 levels were increased in SMA and CM versus UM (p < 0.001). Among severe malaria cases, CHI3L1 levels at presentation predicted subsequent death (area under receiver operating characteristic curve 0.84 [95% CI 0.76-0.92]) and in combination with other host biomarkers, predicted mortality with high sensitivity (100% [85.7-100]) and specificity (81.3% [71.3-88.3]). Plasmodium falciparum stimulated CHI3L1 production by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. CHI3L1 was increased in plasma and brain tissue in experimental cerebral malaria, but targeted Chi3l1 deletion did not alter cytokine production or survival in this model.
These data suggest that plasma CHI3L1 measured at presentation correlates with malaria severity and predicts outcome in paediatric SMA and CM, but do not support a causal role for CHI3L1 in cerebral malaria pathobiology in the model tested.
PMCID: PMC4114103  PMID: 25047113
Cerebral malaria; Severe malaria; Chitinase 3-like 1; CHI3L1; Biomarker; Pathogenesis; Inflammation
12.  VEGF controls lung Th2 inflammation via the miR-1–Mpl (myeloproliferative leukemia virus oncogene)–P-selectin axis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(10):1993-2010.
VEGF dampens the expression of microRNA-1, which drives inflammation in part via increasing the expression of Mpl.
Asthma, the prototypic Th2-mediated inflammatory disorder of the lung, is an emergent disease worldwide. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical regulator of pulmonary Th2 inflammation, but the underlying mechanism and the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in this process have not been defined. Here we show that lung-specific overexpression of VEGF decreases miR-1 expression in the lung, most prominently in the endothelium, and a similar down-regulation occurs in lung endothelium in Th2 inflammation models. Intranasal delivery of miR-1 inhibited inflammatory responses to ovalbumin, house dust mite, and IL-13 overexpression. Blocking VEGF inhibited Th2-mediated lung inflammation, and this was restored by antagonizing miR-1. Using mRNA arrays, Argonaute pull-down assays, luciferase expression assays, and mutational analysis, we identified Mpl as a direct target of miR-1 and showed that VEGF controls the expression of endothelial Mpl during Th2 inflammation via the regulation of miR-1. In vivo knockdown of Mpl inhibited Th2 inflammation and indirectly inhibited the expression of P-selectin in lung endothelium. These experiments define a novel VEGF–miR-1–Mpl–P-selectin effector pathway in lung Th2 inflammation and herald the utility of miR-1 and Mpl as potential therapeutic targets for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3782056  PMID: 24043765
13.  Role of Chitin and Chitinase/Chitinase-Like Proteins in Inflammation, Tissue Remodeling, and Injury 
Annual review of physiology  2011;73:10.1146/annurev-physiol-012110-142250.
The 18 glycosyl hydrolase family of chitinases is an ancient gene family that is widely expressed from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. In mammals, despite the absence of endogenous chitin, a number of chitinases and chitinase-like proteins (C/CLPs) have been identified. However, their roles have only recently begun to be elucidated. Acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) inhibits chitin-induced innate inflammation; augments chitin-free, allergen-induced Th2 inflammation; and mediates effector functions of IL-13. The CLPs BRP-39/YKL-40 (also termed chitinase 3-like 1) inhibit oxidant-induced lung injury, augments adaptive Th2 immunity, regulates apoptosis, stimulates alternative macrophage activation, and contributes to fibrosis and wound healing. In accord with these findings, levels of YKL-40 in the lung and serum are increased in asthma and other inflammatory and remodeling disorders and often correlate with disease severity. Our understanding of the roles of C/CLPs in inflammation, tissue remodeling, and tissue injury in health and disease is reviewed below.
PMCID: PMC3864643  PMID: 21054166
asthma; fibrosis; BRP-39/YKL-40; AMCase; chitotriosidase
14.  Chitinase 3-like-1 Promotes Streptococcus pneumoniae Killing and Augments Host Tolerance to Lung Antibacterial Responses 
Cell host & microbe  2012;12(1):34-46.
Host antibacterial responses include mechanisms that kill bacteria, but also those that protect or tolerize the host to potentially damaging antibacterial effects. We determined that Chitinase 3-like-1 (Chi3l1), a conserved prototypic chitinase-like protein, is induced by Streptococcus pneumoniae and plays central roles in promoting bacterial clearance and mediating host tolerance. S. pneumoniae-infected Chi3l1 null mice exhibit exaggerated lung injury, inflammation and hemorrhage, more frequent bacterial dissemination, decreased bacterial clearance, and enhanced mortality compared to controls. Chi3l1 augments macrophage bacterial killing by inhibiting caspase-1-dependent macrophage pyroptosis and augments host tolerance by controlling inflammasome activation, ATP accumulation, expression of ATP receptor P2×7R, and production of thymic stromal lymphopoietin and type 1, type 2, and type 17 cytokines. These data demonstrate that Chi3l1 is induced during infection, where it promotes bacterial clearance while simultaneously augmenting host tolerance, and that these roles likely contributed to the retention of Chi3l1 over species and evolutionary time.
PMCID: PMC3613130  PMID: 22817986
15.  IL-18 Induces Emphysema and Airway and Vascular Remodeling via IFN-γ, IL-17A, and IL-13 
Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation, alveolar destruction, and airway and vascular remodeling. However, the mechanisms that lead to these diverse alterations have not been defined.
Objectives: We hypothesized that IL-18 plays a central role in the pathogenesis of these lesions.
Methods: We generated and characterized lung-specific, inducible IL-18 transgenic mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Here we demonstrate that the expression of IL-18 in the mature murine lung induces inflammation that is associated with the accumulation of CD4+, CD8+, CD19+, and NK1.1+ cells; emphysema; mucus metaplasia; airway fibrosis; vascular remodeling; and right ventricle cardiac hypertrophy. We also demonstrate that IL-18 induces type 1, type 2, and type 17 cytokines with IFN-γ–inhibiting macrophage, lymphocyte, and eosinophil accumulation while stimulating alveolar destruction and genes associated with cell cytotoxicity and IL-13 and IL-17A inducing mucus metaplasia, airway fibrosis, and vascular remodeling. We also highlight interactions between these responses with IL-18 inducing IL-13 via an IL-17A–dependent mechanism and the type 1 and type17/type 2 responses counterregulating each another.
Conclusions: These studies define the spectrum of inflammatory, parenchymal, airway, and vascular alterations that are induced by pulmonary IL-18; highlight the similarities between these responses and the lesions in COPD; and define the selective roles that type 1, type 2, and type 17 responses play in the generation of IL-18–induced pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3373071  PMID: 22383501
IL-18; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; airway fibrosis; mucus metaplasia; vascular remodeling
16.  Chitinase-like Proteins in Lung Injury, Repair, and Metastasis 
This report explains how our studies of asthma and Th2 inflammation led us to investigate the roles of chitinase-like proteins (CLPs) in lung injury and repair and puts forth an overall hypothesis that can explain the roles that these moieties play in biology and a hypothesis regarding the ways that dysregulated CLP expression may contribute to the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases. We test this hypothesis by assessing the contributions of the CLP breast regression protein (BRP)-39 in the pathogenesis of malignant melanoma metastasis to the lung.
PMCID: PMC3359113  PMID: 22550243
BRP-39/YKL-40; inflammation; injury; repair; metastasis
17.  Studies of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent stimulator of vascular angiogenesis, permeability, and remodeling that also plays important roles in wound healing and tissue cytoprotection. To begin to define the roles of VEGF in diseases like asthma and COPD, we characterized the effects of lung-targeted transgenic VEGF165 and defined the innate immune pathways that regulate VEGF tissue responses. The former studies demonstrated that VEGF plays an important role in Th2 inflammation because, in addition to stimulating angiogenesis and edema, VEGF induced eosinophilic inflammation, mucus metaplasia, subepithelial fibrosis, myocyte hyperplasia, dendritic cell activation, and airways hyperresponsiveness via IL-13–dependent and -independent mechanisms. VEGF was also produced at sites of aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation, and VEGF receptor blockade ameliorated adaptive Th2 inflammation and Th2 cytokine elaboration. The latter studies demonstrated that activation of the RIG-like helicase (RLH) innate immune pathway using viral pathogen–associated molecular patterns such as Poly(I:C) or viruses ameliorated VEGF-induced tissue responses. In accord with these findings, Poly(I:C)-induced RLH activation also abrogated aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation. When viewed in combination, these studies suggest that VEGF excess can contribute to the pathogenesis of Th2 inflammatory disorders such as asthma and that abrogation of VEGF signaling via RLH activation can contribute to the pathogenesis of viral disorders such as virus-induced COPD exacerbations. They also suggest that RLH activation may be a useful therapeutic strategy in asthma and related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3359071  PMID: 22052929
asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; virus; RIG-like helicase; mitochondrial antiviral signaling molecule
18.  Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induces remodeling and enhances TH2-mediated sensitization and inflammation in the lung 
Nature medicine  2004;10(10):1095-1103.
Exaggerated levels of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) are present in persons with asthma, but the role(s) of VEGF in normal and asthmatic lungs has not been defined. We generated lung-targeted VEGF165 transgenic mice and evaluated the role of VEGF in T-helper type 2 cell (TH2)-mediated inflammation. In these mice, VEGF induced, through IL-13–dependent and –independent pathways, an asthma-like phenotype with inflammation, parenchymal and vascular remodeling, edema, mucus metaplasia, myocyte hyperplasia and airway hyper-responsiveness. VEGF also enhanced respiratory antigen sensitization and TH2 inflammation and increased the number of activated DC2 dendritic cells. In antigen-induced inflammation, VEGF was produced by epithelial cells and preferentially by TH2 versus TH1 cells. In this setting, it had a critical role in TH2 inflammation, cytokine production and physiologic dysregulation. Thus, VEGF is a mediator of vascular and extravascular remodeling and inflammation that enhances antigen sensitization and is crucial in adaptive TH2 inflammation. VEGF regulation may be therapeutic in asthma and other TH2 disorders.
PMCID: PMC3434232  PMID: 15378055
19.  RIG-like Helicase Innate Immunity Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Tissue Responses via a Type I IFN–dependent Mechanism 
Rationale: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates vascular, inflammatory, remodeling, and cell death responses. It plays a critical role in normal pulmonary physiology, and VEGF excess and deficiency have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respectively. Although viruses are an important cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations and innate responses play an important role in these exacerbations, the effects of antiviral responses on VEGF homeostasis have not been evaluated.
Objectives: We hypothesized that antiviral innate immunity regulates VEGF tissue responses.
Methods: We compared the effects of transgenic VEGF165 in mice treated with viral pathogen–associated molecular pattern polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], mice treated with live virus, and control mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Transgenic VEGF stimulated angiogenesis, edema, inflammation, and mucin accumulation. Each of these was abrogated by poly(I:C). These inhibitory effects were dose dependent, noted when poly(I:C) was administered before and after transgene activation, and mediated by a Toll-like receptor-3–independent and RIG-like helicase (RLH)– and type I IFN receptor–dependent pathway. VEGF stimulated the expression of VEGF receptor-1 and poly(I:C) inhibited this stimulation. Poly(I:C) also inhibited the ability of VEGF to activate extracellular signal–regulated kinase-1, Akt, focal adhesion kinase, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase, and aeroallergen-induced adaptive helper T-cell type 2 inflammation. Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus also inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenesis.
Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that poly(I:C) and respiratory viruses inhibit VEGF-induced tissue responses and adaptive helper T-cell type 2 inflammation and highlight the importance of a RLH- and type I IFN receptor–dependent pathway(s) in these regulatory events. They define a novel link between VEGF and antiviral and RLH innate immune responses and a novel pathway that regulates pulmonary VEGF activity.
PMCID: PMC3114061  PMID: 21278304
RIG-like helicase; mitochondrial antiviral signaling molecule; influenza virus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
20.  An Essential Regulatory Role of Downstream of Kinase-1 in the Ovalbumin-Induced Murine Model of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34554.
The downstream of kinase (DOK)-1 is involved in the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) pathway in mast cells, but the role of DOK-1 in the pathogenesis of asthma has not been defined. In this study, we have demonstrated a novel regulatory role of DOK-1 in airway inflammation and physiologic responses in a murine model of asthma using lentiviral vector containing DOK-1 cDNA or DOK-1-specific ShRNA. The OVA-induced inflammatory cells, airway hyperresponsiveness, Th2 cytokine expression, and mucus response were significantly reduced in DOK-1 overexpressing mice compared to OVA-challenged control mice. The transgenic introduction of DOK-1 significantly stimulated the activation and expression of STAT-4 and T-bet, while impressively inhibiting the activation and expression of STAT-6 and GATA-3 in airway epithelial cells. On the other hand, DOK-1 knockdown mice enhanced STAT-6 expression and its nuclear translocation compared to OVA-challenged control mice. When viewed in combination, our studies demonstrate DOK-1 regulates allergen-induced Th2 immune responses by selective stimulation and inhibition of STAT-4 and STAT-6 signaling pathways, respectively. These studies provide a novel insight on the regulatory role of DOK-1 in allergen-induced Th2 inflammation and airway responses, which has therapeutic potential for asthma and other allergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3326039  PMID: 22514638
21.  Chitin Particles Are Multifaceted Immune Adjuvants 
Rationale: Chitin is a ubiquitous polysaccharide in fungi, insects, allergens, and parasites that is released at sites of infection. Its role in the generation of tissue inflammation, however, is not fully understood.
Objectives: We hypothesized that chitin is an important adjuvant for adaptive immunity.
Methods: Mice were injected with a solution of ovalbumin and chitin.
Measurements and Main Results: We used in vivo and ex vivo/in vitro approaches to characterize the ability of chitin fragments to foster adaptive immune responses against ovalbumin and compared these responses to those induced by aluminum hydroxide (alum). In vivo, ovalbumin challenge caused an eosinophil-rich pulmonary inflammatory response, Th2 cytokine elaboration, IgE induction, and mucus metaplasia in mice that had been sensitized with ovalbumin plus chitin or ovalbumin plus alum. Toll-like receptor-2, MyD88, and IL-17A played critical roles in the chitin-induced responses, and MyD88 and IL-17A played critical roles in the alum-induced responses. In vitro, CD4+ T cells from mice sensitized with ovalbumin plus chitin were incubated with ovalbumin-stimulated bone marrow–derived dendritic cells. In these experiments, CD4+ T-cell proliferation, IL-5, IL-13, IFN-γ, and IL-17A production were appreciated. Toll-like receptor-2, MyD88, and IL-17A played critical roles in these in vitro adjuvant properties of chitin. TLR-2 was required for cell proliferation, whereas IL-17 and TLR-2 were required for cytokine elaboration. IL-17A also inhibited the generation of adaptive Th1 responses.
Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that chitin is a potent multifaceted adjuvant that induces adaptive Th2, Th1, and Th17 immune responses. They also demonstrate that the adjuvant properties of chitin are mediated by a pathway(s) that involves and is regulated by TLR-2, MyD88, and IL-17A.
PMCID: PMC3029935  PMID: 20656945
chitin; adjuvant; ovalbumin; aluminum hydroxide; alum
22.  The Chitinase-like Proteins Breast Regression Protein-39 and YKL-40 Regulate Hyperoxia-induced Acute Lung Injury 
Rationale: Prolonged exposure to 100% O2 causes hyperoxic acute lung injury (HALI), characterized by alveolar epithelial cell injury and death. We previously demonstrated that the murine chitinase-like protein, breast regression protein (BRP)–39 and its human homolog, YKL-40, inhibit cellular apoptosis. However, the regulation and roles of these molecules in hyperoxia have not been addressed.
Objectives: We hypothesized that BRP-39 and YKL-40 (also called chitinase-3–like 1) play important roles in the pathogenesis of HALI.
Methods: We characterized the regulation of BRP-39 during HALI and the responses induced by hyperoxia in wild-type mice, BRP-39–null (−/−) mice, and BRP-39−/− mice in which YKL-40 was overexpressed in respiratory epithelium. We also compared the levels of tracheal aspirate YKL-40 in premature newborns with respiratory failure.
Measurements and Main Results: These studies demonstrate that hyperoxia inhibits BRP-39 in vivo in the murine lung and in vitro in epithelial cells. They also demonstrate that BRP-39−/− mice have exaggerated permeability, protein leak, oxidation, inflammatory, chemokine, and epithelial apoptosis responses, and experience premature death in 100% O2. Lastly, they demonstrate that YKL-40 ameliorates HALI, prolongs survival in 100% O2, and rescues the exaggerated injury response in BRP-39−/− animals. In accord with these findings, the levels of tracheal aspirate YKL-40 were lower in premature infants treated with hyperoxia for respiratory failure who subsequently experienced bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death compared with those that did not experience these complications.
Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that hyperoxia inhibits BRP-39/YKL-40, and that BRP-39 and YKL-40 are critical regulators of oxidant injury, inflammation, and epithelial apoptosis in the murine and human lung.
PMCID: PMC2970863  PMID: 20558631
BRP-39; YKL-40; hyperoxygen; BPD; HALI
23.  Protective effects of basic fibroblast growth factor in the development of emphysema induced by interferon-γ 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2011;43(4):169-178.
Recent clinical evidence indicates that the non-eosinophilic subtype of severe asthma is characterized by fixed airway obstruction, which may be related to emphysema. Transgenic studies have demonstrated that high levels of IFN-γ in the airways induce emphysema. Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), which is the downstream mediator of TGF-β, is important in wound healing. We investigated the role of FGF2 in IFN-γ-induced emphysema and the therapeutic effects of recombinant FGF2 in the prevention of emphysema in a severe non-eosinophilic asthma model. To evaluate the role of FGF2 in IFN-γ-induced emphysema, lung targeted IFN-γ transgenic mice were cross-bred with FGF2-deficient mice. A severe non-eosinophilic asthma model was generated by airway application of LPS-containing allergens twice a week for 4 weeks. To evaluate protective effects of FGF2, recombinant FGF2 (10 µg) was injected subcutaneously during allergen challenge in the severe asthma model. We found that non-eosinophilic inflammation and emphysema induced by transgenic overexpression of IFN-γ in the airways were aggravated by the absence of FGF2. Airway challenge with LPS-containing allergens induced more inflammation in mice sensitized with LPS-containing allergens compared to challenge with allergens alone. In addition, LPS-induced lung inflammation and emphysema depended on IFN-γ but not on IL-13. Interestingly, emphysema in the severe asthma model was significantly inhibited by treatment with recombinant FGF2 during allergen challenge, whereas lung inflammation was unaffected. Therefore, our present data suggest that FGF2 may help protect against IFN-γ-induced emphysema, and that recombinant FGF2 may help lessen the severity of emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3085735  PMID: 21297377
asthma; emphysema; fibroblast growth factor 2; interferon-γ; pulmonary eosinophilia
24.  Interleukin-10 Prevents Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance by Attenuating Macrophage and Cytokine Response in Skeletal Muscle 
Diabetes  2009;58(11):2525-2535.
Insulin resistance is a major characteristic of type 2 diabetes and is causally associated with obesity. Inflammation plays an important role in obesity-associated insulin resistance, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Interleukin (IL)-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine with lower circulating levels in obese subjects, and acute treatment with IL-10 prevents lipid-induced insulin resistance. We examined the role of IL-10 in glucose homeostasis using transgenic mice with muscle-specific overexpression of IL-10 (MCK-IL10).
MCK-IL10 and wild-type mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 3 weeks, and insulin sensitivity was determined using hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps in conscious mice. Biochemical and molecular analyses were performed in muscle to assess glucose metabolism, insulin signaling, and inflammatory responses.
MCK-IL10 mice developed with no obvious anomaly and showed increased whole-body insulin sensitivity. After 3 weeks of HFD, MCK-IL10 mice developed comparable obesity to wild-type littermates but remained insulin sensitive in skeletal muscle. This was mostly due to significant increases in glucose metabolism, insulin receptor substrate-1, and Akt activity in muscle. HFD increased macrophage-specific CD68 and F4/80 levels in wild-type muscle that was associated with marked increases in tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-6, and C-C motif chemokine receptor-2 levels. In contrast, MCK-IL10 mice were protected from diet-induced inflammatory response in muscle.
These results demonstrate that IL-10 increases insulin sensitivity and protects skeletal muscle from obesity-associated macrophage infiltration, increases in inflammatory cytokines, and their deleterious effects on insulin signaling and glucose metabolism. Our findings provide novel insights into the role of anti-inflammatory cytokine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2768157  PMID: 19690064
25.  Lung vascular endothelial growth factor expression induces local myeloid dendritic cell activation 
Clinical immunology (Orlando, Fla.)  2009;132(3):371-384.
We previously demonstrated that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in the murine lung increases local CD11c+ MHCII+ DC number and activation. In this study, employing a multicolor flow cytometry, we report increases in both myeloid (mDC) and plasmacytoid (pDC) DC in the lungs of VEGF transgenic (tg) compared to WT mice. Lung pDC from VEGF tg mice exhibited higher levels of activation with increased expression of MHCII and costimulatory molecules. As VEGF tg mice display an asthma-like phenotype and lung mDC play a critical role in asthmatic setting, studies were undertaken to further characterize murine lung mDC. Evaluations of sorted mDC from VEGF tg lungs demonstrated a selective upregulation of cathepsin K, MMP-8, -9, -12, and -14, and chemokine receptors as compared to those obtained from WT control mice. They also had increased VEGFR2 but downregulated VEGFR1 expression. Analysis of chemokine and regulatory cytokine expression in these cells showed an upregulation of macrophage chemotactic protein-3 (MCP-3), thymus-expressed chemokine (TECK), secondary lymphoid organ chemokine (SLC), macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC), IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-13. The antigen (Ag) OVA-FITC uptake by lung DC and the migration of Ag-loaded DC to local lymph nodes were significantly increased in VEGF tg mice compared to WT mice. Thus, VEGF may predispose the lung to inflammation and/or repair by activating local DC. It regulates lung mDC expression of innate immunity effector molecules. The data presented here demonstrate how lung VEGF expression functionally affects local mDC for the transition from the innate response to a Th2-type inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC2780370  PMID: 19553159
Rodent; lung; inflammation; dendritic cells; cell activation

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