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1.  Reticular Basement Membrane Vessels Are Increased in COPD Bronchial Mucosa by Both Factor VIII and Collagen IV Immunostaining and Are Hyperpermeable 
Journal of Allergy  2012;2012:958383.
Background and Objective. Using Collagen IV staining, we have previously reported that the reticular basement membrane (Rbm) is hypervascular and the lamina propria (LP) is hypovascular in COPD airways. This study compared Collagen IV staining with vessels marked with anti-Factor VIII and examined vessel permeability in bronchial biopsies from COPD and normal subjects using albumin staining. Results. Anti-Collagen IV antibody detected more vessels in the Rbm (P = 0.002) and larger vessels in both Rbm (P < 0.001) and LP (P = 0.003) compared to Factor VIII. COPD airways had more vessels (with greater permeability) in the Rbm (P = 0.01) and fewer vessels (with normal permeability) in the LP compared to controls with both Collagen IV and Factor VIII antibodies (P = 0.04 and P = 0.01). Conclusion. Rbm vessels were increased in number and were hyperpermeable in COPD airways. Anti-Collagen IV and anti-Factor VIII antibodies did not uniformly detect the same vessel populations; the first is likely to reflect larger and older vessels with the latter reflecting smaller, younger vessels.
PMCID: PMC3303780  PMID: 22500190
2.  Evaluation of epithelial mesenchymal transition in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):130.
The reticular basement membrane (Rbm) in smokers and especially smokers with COPD is fragmented with "clefts" containing cells staining for the collagenase matrix-metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and fibroblast protein, S100A4. These cells are also present in the basal epithelium. Such changes are likely hallmarks of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). We aimed to confirm the epithelial origin of these Rbm cells, and to exclude potential confounding by infiltrating inflammatory cells.
Endobronchial biopsy sections from 17 COPD current smokers, with documented Rbm splitting and cellularity were stained for neutrophil elastase (neutrophil marker), CD68 (macrophage/mature fibroblasts), CD4+/CD8+ T lymphocytes, CD19 (B-cells), CD11c (dendritic cells/inflammatory cells), and S100 (Langerhans cells). The number of cells in the Rbm and epithelium staining for these "inflammatory" cell markers were then compared to numbers staining for S100A4, "a documented EMT epitope". Slides were double stained for S100A4 and cytokeratin(s).
In the basal epithelium significantly more cells stained for S100A4 compared to infiltrating macrophages, fibroblasts or immune cells: median, 26 (21.3 - 37.3) versus 0 (0 - 9.6) per mm, p < 0.003. Markedly more S100A4 staining cells were also observed in the Rbm compared to infiltrating macrophages, neutrophils, fibroblasts or immune cells or any sub-type: 58 (37.3 - 92.6) versus 0 (0 - 4.8) cells/mm Rbm, p < 0.003. Cells in the basal epithelium 26 (21.3 - 37.3) per mm) and Rbm (5.9 (2.3 - 13.8) per mm) frequently double stained for both cytokeratin and S100A4.
These data provide additional support for active EMT in COPD airways.
PMCID: PMC3198934  PMID: 21970519
cytokeratin; clefts; epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT); inflammatory cells and S100A4
4.  Basement membrane and vascular remodelling in smokers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a cross-sectional study 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):105.
Little is known about airway remodelling in bronchial biopsies (BB) in smokers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We conducted an initial pilot study comparing BB from COPD patients with nonsmoking controls. This pilot study suggested the presence of reticular basement membrane (Rbm) fragmentation and altered vessel distribution in COPD.
To determine whether Rbm fragmentation and altered vessel distribution in BB were specific for COPD we designed a cross-sectional study and stained BB from 19 current smokers and 14 ex-smokers with mild to moderate COPD and compared these to 15 current smokers with normal lung function and 17 healthy and nonsmoking subjects.
Thickness of the Rbm was not significantly different between groups; although in COPD this parameter was quite variable. The Rbm showed fragmentation and splitting in both current smoking groups and ex-smoker COPD compared with healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.02); smoking and COPD seemed to have additive effects. Rbm fragmentation correlated with smoking history in COPD but not with age. There were more vessels in the Rbm and fewer vessels in the lamina propria in current smokers compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.05). The number of vessels staining for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the Rbm was higher in both current smoker groups and ex-smoker COPD compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.004). In current smoker COPD VEGF vessel staining correlated with FEV1% predicted (r = 0.61, p < 0.02).
Airway remodelling in smokers and mild to moderate COPD is associated with fragmentation of the Rbm and altered distribution of vessels in the airway wall. Rbm fragmentation was also present to as great an extent in ex-smokers with COPD. These characteristics may have potential physiological consequences.
PMCID: PMC2918561  PMID: 20670454
5.  Trans-Epithelial Immune Cell Transfer during Suckling Modulates Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity in Recipients as a Function of Gender 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3562.
Breast feeding has long term effects on the developing immune system which outlive passive immunization of the neonate. We have investigated the transfer of milk immune cells and examined the result of transfer once the recipients were adult.
Non-transgenic mouse pups were foster-nursed by green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgenic dams for 3 weeks and the fate of GFP+ cells was followed by FACS analysis, immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR for GFP and appropriate immune cell markers. Pups suckled by non-transgenic dams served as controls.
Despite a preponderance of B cells and macrophages in the stomach contents of the pups, most cells undergoing trans-epithelial migration derived from the 3–4% of milk cells positive for T lymphocyte markers. These cells homed to the spleen and thymus, with maximal accumulation at 3–4 weeks. By sensitizing dams with an antigen which elicits a T cell-mediated delayed-type-hypersensitivity (DTH) response, we determined that nursing by a sensitized dam (compared to a non-sensitized dam) amplified a subsequent DTH response in females and yet suppressed one in males.
These results suggest that clinical evaluation weighing the pros and cons of nursing male versus female children by mothers with genetically-linked hypersensitivity diseases, such as celiac disease and eczema, or those in regions of the world with endemic DTH-eliciting diseases, such as tuberculosis, may be warranted.
PMCID: PMC2569205  PMID: 18958163

Results 1-6 (6)