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1.  Cigarette Smoke Extract Induces a Phenotypic Shift in Epithelial Cells; Involvement of HIF1α in Mesenchymal Transition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e107757.
In COPD, matrix remodeling contributes to airflow limitation. Recent evidence suggests that next to fibroblasts, the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition can contribute to matrix remodeling. CSE has been shown to induce EMT in lung epithelial cells, but the signaling mechanisms involved are largely unknown and subject of this study. EMT was assessed in A549 and BEAS2B cells stimulated with CSE by qPCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescence for epithelial and mesenchymal markers, as were collagen production, cell adhesion and barrier integrity as functional endpoints. Involvement of TGF-β and HIF1α signaling pathways were investigated. In addition, mouse models were used to examine the effects of CS on hypoxia signaling and of hypoxia per se on mesenchymal expression. CSE induced EMT characteristics in A549 and BEAS2B cells, evidenced by decreased expression of epithelial markers and a concomitant increase in mesenchymal marker expression after CSE exposure. Furthermore cells that underwent EMT showed increased production of collagen, decreased adhesion and disrupted barrier integrity. The induction of EMT was found to be independent of TGF-β signaling. On the contrary, CS was able to induce hypoxic signaling in A549 and BEAS2B cells as well as in mice lung tissue. Importantly, HIF1α knock-down prevented induction of mesenchymal markers, increased collagen production and decreased adhesion after CSE exposure, data that are in line with the observed induction of mesenchymal marker expression by hypoxia in vitro and in vivo. Together these data provide evidence that both bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells undergo a functional phenotypic shift in response to CSE exposure which can contribute to increased collagen deposition in COPD lungs. Moreover, HIF1α signaling appears to play an important role in this process.
PMCID: PMC4199572  PMID: 25329389
2.  Similar matrix alterations in alveolar and small airway walls of COPD patients 
Remodelling in COPD has at least two dimensions: small airway wall thickening and destruction of alveolar walls. Recent studies indicate that there is some similarity between alveolar and small airway wall matrix remodelling. The aim of this study was to characterise and assess similarities in alveolar and small airway wall matrix remodelling, and TGF-β signalling in COPD patients of different GOLD stages.
Lung tissue sections of 14 smoking controls, 16 GOLD II and 19 GOLD IV patients were included and stained for elastin and collagens as well as hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan matrix component and pSMAD2.
Elastin was significantly decreased in COPD patients not only in alveolar, but also in small airway walls. Interestingly, both collagen and hyaluronan were increased in alveolar as well as small airway walls. The matrix changes were highly comparable between GOLD stages, with collagen content in the alveolar wall increasing further in GOLD IV. A calculated remodelling index, defined as elastin divided over collagen and hyaluronan, was decreased significantly in GOLD II and further lowered in GOLD IV patients, suggesting that matrix component alterations are involved in progressive airflow limitation. Interestingly, there was a positive correlation present between the alveolar and small airway wall stainings of the matrix components, as well as for pSMAD2. No differences in pSMAD2 staining between controls and COPD patients were found.
In conclusion, remodelling in the alveolar and small airway wall in COPD is markedly similar and already present in moderate COPD. Notably, alveolar collagen and a remodelling index relate to lung function.
PMCID: PMC4055380  PMID: 24886452
3.  Efficacy of IFN-λ1 to Protect Human Airway Epithelial Cells against Human Rhinovirus 1B Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95134.
Impaired interferon (IFN) production has been observed in various obstructive respiratory diseases. This contributes to enhanced sensitivity towards viral infections triggering acute exacerbations. To compensate for this impaired host IFN response, there is need to explore new therapeutic strategies, like exogenous administration of IFNs as prophylactic treatment. In the present study, we examined the protective potential of IFN-λ1 and compared it with the previously established protecting effect of IFN-β. A549 cells and human primary bronchial epithelial cells were first treated with either IFN-β (500 IU/ml) or IFN-λ1 (500 ng/ml) for 18 h. For infection, two approaches were adopted: i) Continuous scenario: after pre-treatment, cells were infected immediately for 24 h with human rhinovirus 1B (HRV1B) in IFN-containing medium, or were cultured for another 72 h in IFN-containing medium, and then infected for 24 h with HRV1B, ii) Pre-treatment scenario: IFN-containing medium was replaced after 18 h and cells were infected for 4 h either immediately after pre-treatment or after additional culturing for 72 h in IFN-free medium. The protective effect was evaluated in terms of reduction in the number of viral copies/infectious progeny, and enhanced expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). In both cell types and in both approaches, IFN-λ1 and IFN-β treatment resulted in pronounced and long-lasting antiviral effects exemplified by significantly reduced viral copy numbers and diminished infectious progeny. This was associated with strong up-regulation of multiple ISGs. However, in contrast to the IFN-β induced expression of ISGs, which decreased over time, expression of ISGs induced by IFN-λ1 was sustained or even increased over time. Here we demonstrate that the protective potential of IFN-λ1 is comparable to IFN-β. Yet, the long-lasting induction of ISGs by IFN-λ1 and most likely less incitement of side effects due to more localized expression of its receptors could make it an even more promising candidate for prophylactic treatment than IFN-β.
PMCID: PMC3994020  PMID: 24751942
5.  IL6 and CRP haplotypes are associated with COPD risk and systemic inflammation: a case-control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:23.
Elevated circulating levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6 and fibrinogen (FG) have been repeatedly associated with many adverse outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To date, it remains unclear whether and to what extent systemic inflammation is primary or secondary in the pathogenesis of COPD.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between haplotypes of CRP, IL6 and FGB genes, systemic inflammation, COPD risk and COPD-related phenotypes (respiratory impairment, exercise capacity and body composition).
Eighteen SNPs in three genes, representing optimal haplotype-tagging sets, were genotyped in 355 COPD patients and 195 healthy smokers. Plasma levels of CRP, IL-6 and FG were measured in the total study group. Differences in haplotype distributions were tested using the global and haplotype-specific statistics.
Raised plasma levels of CRP, IL-6 and fibrinogen were demonstrated in COPD patients. However, COPD population was very heterogeneous: about 40% of patients had no evidence of systemic inflammation (CRP < 3 mg/uL or no inflammatory markers in their top quartile). Global test for haplotype effect indicated association of CRP gene and CRP plasma levels (P = 0.0004) and IL6 gene and COPD (P = 0.003). Subsequent analysis has shown that IL6 haplotype H2, associated with an increased COPD risk (p = 0.004, OR = 4.82; 1.64 to 4.18), was also associated with very low CRP levels (p = 0.0005). None of the genes were associated with COPD-related phenotypes.
Our findings suggest that common genetic variation in CRP and IL6 genes may contribute to heterogeneity of COPD population associated with systemic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2660301  PMID: 19272152
6.  Patterns of inflammation and the use of reversibility testing in smokers with airway complaints 
Although both smoking and respiratory complaints are very common, tools to improve diagnostic accuracy are scarce in primary care. This study aimed to reveal what inflammatory patterns prevail in clinically established diagnosis groups, and what factors are associated with eosinophilia.
Induced sputum and blood plasma of 59 primary care patients with COPD (n = 17), asthma (n = 11), chronic bronchitis (CB, n = 14) and smokers with no respiratory complaints ('healthy smokers', n = 17) were collected, as well as lung function, smoking history and clinical work-up. Patterns of inflammatory markers per clinical diagnosis and factors associated with eosinophilia were analyzed by multiple regression analyses, the differences expressed in odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals.
Multivariately, COPD was significantly associated with raised plasma-LBP (OR 1.2 [1.04–1.37]) and sTNF-R55 in sputum (OR 1.01 [1.001–1.01]), while HS expressed significantly lowered plasma-LBP (OR 0.8 [0.72–0.95]). Asthma was characterized by higher sputum eosinophilic counts (OR 1.3 [1.05–1.54]), while CB showed a significantly higher proportion of sputum lymphocytic counts (OR 1.5 [1.12–1.9]). Sputum eosinophilia was significantly associated with reversibility after adjusting for smoking, lung function, age, gender and allergy.
Patterns of inflammatory markers in a panel of blood plasma and sputum cells and mediators were discernable in clinical diagnosis groups of respiratory disease. COPD and so-called healthy smokers showed consistent opposite associations with plasma LBP, while chronic bronchitics showed relatively predominant lymphocytic inflammation compared to other diagnosis groups. Only sputum eosinophilia remained significantly associated with reversibility across the spectrum of respiratory disease in smokers with airway complaints.
PMCID: PMC1513598  PMID: 16740168
7.  Tumor Necrosis Factor-α +489G/A gene polymorphism is associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2002;3(1):29.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by a chronic inflammatory process, in which the pro-inflammatory cytokine Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α is considered to play a role. In the present study the putative involvement of TNF-α gene polymorphisms in pathogenesis of COPD was studied by analysis of four TNF-α gene polymorphisms in a Caucasian COPD population.
TNF-α gene polymorphisms at positions -376G/A, -308G/A, -238G/A, and +489G/A were examined in 169 Dutch COPD patients, who had a mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 37 ± 13%, and compared with a Dutch population control group of 358 subjects.
The data showed that the TNF-α +489G/A genotype frequency tended to be different in COPD patients as compared to population controls, which was due to an enhanced frequency of the GA genotype. In line herewith, carriership of the minor allele was associated with enhanced risk of development of COPD (odds ratio = 1.9, p = 0.009). The other TNF-α gene polymorphisms studied revealed no discrimination between patients and controls. No differences in the examined four TNF-α polymorphisms were found between subtypes of COPD, which were stratified for the presence of radiological emphysema. However, comparison of the COPD subtypes with controls showed a significant difference in the TNF-α +489G/A genotype in patients without radiological emphysema (χ2-test: p < 0.025 [Bonferroni adjusted]), while no differences between COPD patients with radiological emphysema and controls were observed.
Based on the reported data, it is concluded that COPD, and especially a subgroup of COPD patients without radiological emphysema, is associated with TNF-α +489G/A gene polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC150514  PMID: 12537602
Caucasians; COPD; Gene polymorphism; Susceptibility; Tumor necrosis factor-α
8.  Changes in Endotoxin-Binding Proteins during Major Elective Surgery: Important Role for Soluble CD14 in Regulation of Biological Activity of Systemic Endotoxin 
Assessment of circulating endotoxin during the perioperative period, which is only demonstrated by the Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) test, may be modulated by several endotoxin-binding proteins. Endotoxin-neutralizing capacity (ENC) and the plasma levels of soluble CD14 (sCD14), lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, and bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI) were determined in 40 patients 6 h prior to skin incision for major abdominal surgery. The bioactivity of plasma endotoxin was tested by the polymyxin B-inhibited stimulatory activity of the plasma samples on healthy monocytes as measured by the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha. Plasma endotoxin levels in almost all patients increased from 0.05 ± 0.01 to 0.23 ± 0.03 experimental units (EU) per ml (P < 0.001); more specifically, 17 of 40 samples showed endotoxin levels of greater than 0.2 EU per ml and corresponding reductions in ENC. Soluble CD14 plasma levels were decreased from 5.6 ± 0.3 to 4.6 ± 0.3 μg per ml (P < 0.05). ENC was strongly correlated with the sCD14 plasma concentration throughout the period of observation. The addition of sCD14-neutralizing monoclonal anti-sCD14 antibodies reduced ENC both pre- and postoperatively. No correlation could be established between ENC and the plasma levels of BPI, high-density lipoproteins, or low-density lipoproteins determined by measuring the concentrations of apoprotein A and apoprotein B. Biologically active endotoxin was found in only 6 of 17 samples with endotoxin levels greater than 0.2 EU per ml in the LAL test. These samples could be characterized by their perioperative loss of at least 35% of their sCD14. No change in sCD14 was detected in the remaining 11 samples. The perioperative loss of ENC is partly caused by the loss of sCD14 resulting from its consumption by endotoxin reaching the bloodstream. This study demonstrated the role of sCD14 on the bioactivity of circulating endotoxin in a human model of endotoxemia after major abdominal surgery.
PMCID: PMC95786  PMID: 10548574
9.  Epinephrine Exerts Anticoagulant Effects during Human Endotoxemia 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1997;185(6):1143-1148.
To determine the effect of a physiologically relevant elevation in the plasma concentrations of epinephrine on the activation of the hemostatic mechanism during endotoxemia, 17 healthy men were studied after intravenous injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 2 ng/kg), while receiving a continuous infusion of epinephrine (30 ng/kg/min) started either 3 h (n = 5) or 24 h (n = 6) before LPS injection, or an infusion of normal saline (n = 6). Activation of the coagulation system (plasma concentrations of thrombin–antithrombin III complexes and prothrombin fragment F1+2) was significantly attenuated in the groups treated with epinephrine when compared with subjects injected with LPS only (P <0.05). Epinephrine enhanced LPS-induced activation of fibrinolysis (plasma levels of tissue-type plasminogen activator and plasmin-α2–antiplasmin complexes; P <0.05), but did not influence inhibition of fibrinolysis (plasminogen activator inhibitor type I). In subjects infused with epinephrine, the ratio of maximal activation of coagulation and maximal activation of fibrinolysis was reduced by >50%. Hence, epinephrine exerts antithrombotic effects during endotoxemia by concurrent inhibition of coagulation, and stimulation of fibrinolysis. Epinephrine, whether endogenously produced or administered as a component of treatment, may limit the development of disseminated intravascular coagulation during systemic infection.
PMCID: PMC2196238  PMID: 9091588

Results 1-9 (9)