The immune response protects against Pneumocystis infection, but is also a key component of PcP-related immunopathogenesis. Signaling through MyD88 is critical for activation of immune pathways downstream of TLRs and IL-1 receptor. To determine whether MyD88 regulates normal host defense against Pneumocystis, non-immunosuppressed wild-type (WT) and MyD88 deficient mice were infected. MyD88−/− mice had higher early Pneumocystis burdens than WT mice, but mounted an effective adaptive immune response and cleared Pneumocystis similar to WT. However, MyD88−/− mice displayed a more intense and prolonged pulmonary immune response than WT mice. To determine the role of MyD88 in the development of PcP-related immunopathogenesis, WT and MyD88−/− mice were rendered susceptible to PcP by depletion of CD4+ T cells. At 4 weeks post-infection, CD4-depleted WT and MyD88−/− mice harbored similar organism burdens, but MyD88−/− mice were protected from the PcP-related respiratory impairment observed in WT mice. Improved pulmonary physiology in MyD88−/− mice correlated with lower lung CCL2 levels, and reduced cell recruitment. However, by 5 weeks post-infection the overall health of MyD88−/− mice began to deteriorate rapidly relative to WT, with accelerated weight loss, impaired lung function, and exacerbated alveolar inflammation. This physiological decline of MyD88−/− mice was associated with increased TNF-α and IFN-γ in the lung, and by the inability to control Pneumocystis burden. Thus, MyD88 is not required for resistance to Pneumocystis infection, but limits the adaptive immune response in immunocompetent mice. In the setting of active PcP, MyD88 signaling contributes to both immunopathogenesis and control of fungal burden.
Immune-mediated lung injury is an important component of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP)-related immunorestitution disease (IRD). However, the individual contribution of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells to the pathophysiology of IRD remains undetermined. Therefore, IRD was modeled in severe combined immunodeficient mice, and specific T cell depletion was used to determine how T cell subsets interact to affect the nature and severity of disease. CD4+ cells were more abundant than CD8+ cells during the acute stage of IRD that coincided with impaired pulmonary physiology and organism clearance. Conversely, CD8+ cells were more abundant during the resolution phase following P. carinii clearance. Depletion of CD4+ T cells protected mice from the acute pathophysiology of IRD. However, these mice could not clear the infection and developed severe PcP at later time points when a pathological CD8+ T cell response was observed. In contrast, mice depleted of CD8+ T cells efficiently cleared the infection, but developed more severe disease, an increased frequency of IFN-γ-producing CD4+ cells, and a prolonged CD4+ T cell response than mice with both CD4+ and CD8+ cells. These data suggest that CD4+ T cells mediate the acute respiratory disease associated with IRD. In contrast, CD8+ T cells contributed to neither lung injury nor organism clearance when CD4+ cells were present, but instead served to modulate CD4 function. In the absence of CD4+ cells, CD8+ T cells produced a non-protective, pathological immune response. These data suggest that the interplay of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells affects the ultimate outcome of PcP-related IRD.
Inflammation; Pulmonary Physiology; AIDS; T cells; Pneumocystis
Pneumocystis is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes pneumonia in a variety of clinical settings. An early step in Pneumocystis infection involves the attachment of organisms to alveolar epithelial cells (AECs). AECs produce chemokines in response to Pneumocystis stimulation, but the upstream host-pathogen interactions that activate AEC signaling cascades are not well-defined. MyD88 is an adaptor molecule required for activation of proinflammatory signaling cascades following Toll-like receptor (TLR)-dependent recognition of conserved molecular patterns on pathogens. To determine whether the TLR/MyD88 pathway is required for the AEC chemokine response to Pneumocystis, wild-type (WT) and MyD88-deficient AECs were incubated with Pneumocystis. As expected, WT AECs produced CCL2 and CXCL2 following Pneumocystis stimulation. In contrast, MyD88-deficient AECs were severely impaired in their ability to respond to Pneumocystis. MyD88-deficient AECs did not display Pneumocystis-induced Jun N-terminal protein kinase activation and produced much less chemokine than Pneumocystis-stimulated WT AECs. Using a panel of TLR agonists, primary murine AECs were found to respond vigorously to TLR2 and TLR4 agonists. However, the AEC chemokine response to Pneumocystis did not require TLR2 or TLR4. Surprisingly, the interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) was required for an AEC chemokine response to Pneumocystis. The role of MyD88 in early responses during Pneumocystis infection was supported by in vivo studies demonstrating that MyD88-deficient mice showed impaired Pneumocystis-stimulated chemokine production and impaired inflammatory cell recruitment. These data indicate an important role for MyD88 in the AEC inflammatory response to Pneumocystis.
Pneumocystis is an opportunistic fungal respiratory pathogen that causes life-threatening pneumonia (Pcp) in patients suffering from defects in cell-mediated immunity, including those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and immunosuppression secondary to chemotherapy or organ transplantation. Despite major advances in health care, the mortality associated with Pcp has changed little over the past 25 years. Pcp remains a leading cause of death among HIV infected patients, with mortality rates of 50% or higher for patients developing severe Pcp. In addition, as more potent immunosuppressive therapies are developed for chronic inflammatory diseases, more cases of Pcp are occurring in non-HIV patients and in previously unreported clinical settings. These features highlight the importance of developing a better understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease, and the need to search for new therapeutic strategies to improve the outcome of Pcp patients. Immune-mediated inflammatory responses play an important role in the pathogenesis of Pcp, and may be even more significant in determining the outcome of Pcp than direct damage due to the organism itself. In this review we will summarize the immunopathogenic mechanisms that contribute to Pcp-associated lung injury, and discuss the potential to target these pathways for adjunctive immune modulation therapy for Pcp.
The clinical severity of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) correlates closely with the appearance of pulmonary markers of inflammation. Therefore, a model system was developed whereby physiological studies could be performed on live mice to determine the extent to which pulmonary inflammation contributes to respiratory impairment during PCP. P. carinii–infected severe combined immunodeficient mice displayed little evidence of pulmonary inflammation and exhibited normal oxygenation and dynamic lung compliance. When comparably infected littermates were immunologically reconstituted, however, an intense immune-mediated inflammatory response was observed that resulted in significant decreases in both lung compliance and oxygenation. As the pneumonia resolved pulmonary function returned toward normal. To begin to define the cell populations contributing to inflammation-associated respiratory impairment during PCP, similar studies were performed in CD4+ T cell–depleted mice. Mice depleted of both CD4+ and CD8+ cells developed infection, but they demonstrated neither abnormal lung compliance nor increased respiratory rate and displayed no markers of lung injury. In contrast, mice depleted of only CD4+ T cells exhibited severe pulmonary inflammation and injury, decreased oxygenation and lung compliance, and increased respirations. Respiratory compromise was associated with the presence of activated CD8+ cells and neutrophils in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid. These observations provide direct experimental evidence that the host’s response to P. carinii directly impairs pulmonary function and contributes to the pathogenesis of PCP. Furthermore, CD8+ T cells likely contribute to the respiratory compromise observed during PCP.
Pneumocystis is an atypical fungal pathogen which causes severe, often fatal pneumonia (PcP) in immunocompromised patients. Healthy humans and animals also encounter this pathogen, but generate a protective CD4+ T cell dependent immune response that clears the pathogen with little evidence of disease. Pneumocystis organisms attach tightly to respiratory epithelial cells, and in vitro studies have demonstrated that this interaction triggers NF-κB-dependent epithelial cell responses. However, the contribution of respiratory epithelial cells to the normal host response to Pneumocystis remains unknown. Inhibitor of κB Kinase 2 (IKK2) is the upstream kinase that is critical for inducible NF-κB activation. To determine whether IKK2-dependent lung epithelial cell responses contribute to the anti-Pneumocystis immune response in vivo, transgenic mice with lung epithelial cell-specific deletion of IKK2 (IKK2ΔLEC) were generated. Compared to wild type mice, IKK2ΔLEC mice exhibited a delayed onset of Th17 and B cell responses in the lung, and delayed fungal clearance. Importantly, delayed Pneumocystis clearance in IKK2ΔLEC mice was associated with an exacerbated immune response, impaired pulmonary function, and altered lung histology. These data demonstrate that IKK2-dependent lung epithelial cell responses are important regulators of pulmonary adaptive immune responses, and are required for optimal host defense against Pneumocystis infection. LECs likely set the threshold for initiation of the pulmonary immune response, and serve to prevent exacerbated lung inflammation by promoting the rapid control of respiratory fungal infection.
Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a devastating progressive disease in which normal lung structure and function is compromised by scarring. Lung fibrosis can be caused by thoracic radiation, injury from chemotherapy and systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis that involve inflammatory responses. CDDO-Me (Methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)dien-28-oate, Bardoxolone methyl) is a novel triterpenoid with anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties as shown by our in vitro studies. Based on this evidence, we hypothesized that CDDO-Me would reduce lung inflammation, fibrosis and lung function impairment in a bleomycin model of lung injury and fibrosis. To test this hypothesis, mice received bleomycin via oropharyngeal aspiration (OA) on day zero and CDDO-Me during the inflammatory phase from days -1 to 9 every other day. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lung tissue were harvested on day 7 to evaluate inflammation, while fibrosis and lung function were evaluated on day 21. On day 7, CDDO-Me reduced total BALF protein by 50%, alveolar macrophage infiltration by 40%, neutrophil infiltration by 90% (p≤0.01), inhibited production of the inflammatory cytokines KC and IL-6 by over 90% (p≤0.001), and excess production of the pro-fibrotic cytokine TGFβ by 50%. CDDO-Me also inhibited α-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin mRNA by 50% (p≤0.05). On day 21, CDDO-Me treatment reduced histological fibrosis, collagen deposition and αSMA production. Lung function was significantly improved at day 21 by treatment with CDDO-Me, as demonstrated by respiratory rate and dynamic compliance. These new findings reveal that CDDO-Me exhibits potent anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties in vivo. CDDO-Me is a potential new class of drugs to arrest inflammation and ameliorate fibrosis in patients who are predisposed to lung injury and fibrosis incited by cancer treatments (e.g. chemotherapy and radiation) and by systemic autoimmune diseases.
Influenza virus leads to acute respiratory disease resulting in seasonal epidemics and periodic pandemics. Little is known about the signaling events that regulate host defense to influenza. One particular pathway, the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) cascade is activated following influenza infection and blocking JNK leads to enhanced viral replication. We hypothesize that Mixed Lineage Kinase 3 (MLK3), an upstream regulator of JNK, is involved in the host response to influenza. To test this, wild-type and MLK3−/− mice were infected with pathogenic strain of influenza A virus, A/PR/8/34 (PR8). Although, cellular and humoral immune responses were similar between wild-type and MLK3−/− hosts, the viral load in the lungs was comparatively higher in MLK3−/− mice at day 8 post infection. Consistent with this, MLK3−/− murine lung fibrobalsts had prolonged survival and increased virion production following infection compared to wild-type. These findings support a role for MLK3 in viral production during influenza infection.
Mixed Lineage Kinase 3; Influenza virus; viability; JNK; T cell
The T cell-mediated immune response elicited by Pneumocystis plays a key role in pulmonary damage and dysfunction during Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP). Mice depleted of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells prior to infection are markedly protected from PcP-related respiratory deficit and death despite progressive lung infection. However, the therapeutic effectiveness of antibody-mediated disruption of T cell function in mice already displaying clinical symptoms of disease has not been determined. Therefore, a murine model of PcP-related immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome was used to assess whether antibody to the pan-T cell molecule CD3 is effective for reducing the severity of PcP when administered after the onset of disease. Mice that received anti-CD3 antibody exhibited a rapid and dramatic halt in the PcP-associated pulmonary function decline within one week post-treatment, and a striking enhancement of survival rate compared to mice receiving control antibody. Physiological improvement in anti-CD3 treated mice was associated with a significant reduction in the number of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells recovered in lung lavage fluid. This effectiveness of anti-CD3 was noted whether or not the mice also received antibiotic therapy with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. These data suggest that monoclonal antibody-mediated disruption of T cell function may represent a specific and effective adjunctive therapy to rapidly reverse the ongoing pathological immune response occurring during active PcP. Thus, the anti-human CD3 monoclonal antibody OKT3, which is already in clinical use, has the potential to be developed as an adjunctive therapy for PcP.
P. carinii pneumonia; Anti-CD3; Inflammation; Lymphocytes
Although T cells are critical for host defense against respiratory fungal infections, they also contribute to the immunopathogenesis of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP). However, the precise downstream effector mechanisms by which T cells mediate these diverse processes are undefined. In the current study the effects of immune modulation with sulfasalazine were evaluated in a mouse model of PcP-related Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (PcP-IRIS). Recovery of T cell-mediated immunity in Pneumocystis-infected immunodeficient mice restored host defense, but also initiated the marked pulmonary inflammation and severe pulmonary function deficits characteristic of IRIS. Sulfasalazine produced a profound attenuation of IRIS, with the unexpected consequence of accelerated fungal clearance. To determine whether macrophage phagocytosis is an effector mechanism of T cell-mediated Pneumocystis clearance and whether sulfasalazine enhances clearance by altering alveolar macrophage phagocytic activity, a novel multispectral imaging flow cytometer-based method was developed to quantify the phagocytosis of Pneumocystis in vivo. Following immune reconstitution, alveolar macrophages from PcP-IRIS mice exhibited a dramatic increase in their ability to actively phagocytose Pneumocystis. Increased phagocytosis correlated temporally with fungal clearance, and required the presence of CD4+ T cells. Sulfasalazine accelerated the onset of the CD4+ T cell-dependent alveolar macrophage phagocytic response in PcP-IRIS mice, resulting in enhanced fungal clearance. Furthermore, sulfasalazine promoted a TH2-polarized cytokine environment in the lung, and sulfasalazine-enhanced phagocytosis of Pneumocystis was associated with an alternatively activated alveolar macrophage phenotype. These results provide evidence that macrophage phagocytosis is an important in vivo effector mechanism for T cell-mediated Pneumocystis clearance, and that macrophage phenotype can be altered to enhance phagocytosis without exacerbating inflammation. Immune modulation can diminish pulmonary inflammation while preserving host defense, and has therapeutic potential for the treatment of PcP-related immunopathogenesis.
Pneumocystis is a fungal respiratory pathogen that causes life-threatening pneumonia (PcP) in immunosuppressed patients. PcP remains an infectious complication of AIDS and cancer, and is emerging in previously unrecognized clinical settings. Despite dramatic advances in health care and the availability of antibiotics to treat this infection, mortality rates have improved little over the past 25 years. T cell-mediated immunity is critical for host defense against respiratory fungal infections. However, T cells also cause PcP-related inflammation and lung injury. The results of the current study indicate that the immune response to Pneumocystis can be modulated to reduce tissue damaging inflammation while enhancing anti-fungal host defense. Alveolar macrophages recognize and eliminate pathogens from the lung and also regulate inflammation. We have identified alveolar macrophages as the effector cells for T cell-dependent clearance of Pneumocystis from the lung, and demonstrated that macrophage phenotype can be altered to enhance microbe elimination without promoting inflammatory injury. These results suggest that the effector mechanism of T cell-mediated fungal clearance is distinct from the effector mechanism of T cell-mediated lung inflammation and injury. This conceptual advance can be exploited to develop more effective therapeutic strategies to block inflammation while preserving host defense.
The opportunistic organism Pneumocystis carinii (Pc) produces a life-threatening pneumonia (PcP) in patients with low CD4+ T cell counts. Animal models of HIV-AIDS-related PcP indicate that development of severe disease is dependent on the presence of CD8+ T cells and the tumor necrosis factor receptors (TNFR), TNFRsf1a and TNFRsf1b. To distinguish roles of parenchymal and hematopoietic cell TNF signaling in PcP-related lung injury, murine bone marrow transplant chimeras of wild-type, C57Bl6/J, and TNFRsf1a/1b double null origin were generated, CD4+ T-cell depleted, and inoculated with Pc. As expected, C57→C57 chimeras (donor marrow→recipient) developed significant disease as assessed by weight loss, impaired pulmonary function (lung resistance and dynamic lung compliance) and inflammatory cell infiltration. In contrast, TNFRsf1a/1b-/-→TNFRsf1a/1b-/- mice were relatively mildly affected despite carrying the greatest organism burden. Mice solely lacking parenchymal TNFRs (C57→TNFRsf1a/1b-/-) had milder disease than C57→C57 mice. Both groups of mice with TNFR deficient parenchymal cells had low BALF total cell counts and fewer lavagable CD8+ T cells than C57→C57 mice, suggesting that parenchymal TNFR signaling contributes to PcP-related immunopathology through the recruitment of damaging immune cells. Interestingly, mice with WT parenchymal cells but TNFRsf1a/1b-/- hematopoietic cells (TNFRsf1a/1b-/-→C57) displayed exacerbated disease characterized by increased MCP-1 and KC production in the lung and increased macrophage and lymphocyte numbers in the lavage, indicating a dysregulated immune response. This study supports a key role of parenchymal cell TNFRs in lung injury induced by Pc and a potential protective effect of receptors on radio-sensitive, marrow derived cells.
cytokine receptors; fungal; immunodeficiency disease; lung
While CD8+ cells have been shown to contribute to lung injury during Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), there are conflicting reports concerning the ability of CD8+ cells to kill P. carinii. To address these two issues, we studied the effect of the presence of CD8+ cells in two mouse models of PCP. In the reconstituted SCID mouse model, depletion of CD8+ cells in addition to CD4+ cells after reconstitution did not result in increased numbers of P. carinii cysts compared to the numbers of cysts in mice with only CD4+ cells depleted. This result was observed regardless of whether the mice were reconstituted with naïve or P. carinii-sensitized lymphocytes. In contrast, reconstitution with sensitized lymphocytes resulted in more rapid onset of lung injury that was dependent on the presence of CD8+ cells. The course of organism replication over a 6-week period was also examined in the CD4+-T-cell-depleted and CD4+- and CD8+-T-cell-depleted mouse model of PCP. Again, the organism burdens were identical at all times regardless of whether CD8+ cells were present. Thus, in the absence of CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells are a key contributor to the inflammatory lung injury associated with PCP. However, we were unable to demonstrate an in vivo effect of these cells on the course of P. carinii infection.
Pneumocystis carinii is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes P. carinii pneumonia (PCP) in the immunocompromised host. We investigated the role of antibody Fc-mediated function in passive prophylaxis against the development of PCP in SCID mice. By comparison of anti-mouse P. carinii immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody (MAb) 4F11(G1) and its F(ab′)2 derivative in an intranasal immunoprophylaxis model, we determined that Fc-mediated function is required for maximum effect of this antibody. Comparison of efficacy of antibody prophylaxis in SCID mice depleted of complement to that in nondepleted mice demonstrated that complement fixation by MAb 4F11(G1) is also necessary for optimal effect of passively administered antibody, although residual protection was observed in complement-depleted SCID mice. The necessity of complement for optimal PCP prophylaxis by MAb 4F11(G1) suggests that complement may play a role in antibody-mediated protection against development of PCP.
Mice immunized with recombinant mouse Pneumocystis carinii antigen A12-thiredoxin fusion protein developed an antibody response that recognized P. carinii antigens, as determined by Western blotting and immunofluorescence analysis. Compared to mice immunized with thioredoxin alone, mice immunized with A12-thioredoxin had significantly reduced lung P. carinii burdens after CD4+ T-cell depletion and challenge with P. carinii.
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PcP) is a clinically important infection of immunocompromised patients. Although the interaction of Pneumocystis with the alveolar epithelium has been well documented, very little information regarding the epithelial response to Pneumocystis is currently available. In order to study Pneumocystis-epithelium interactions, a murine cell line derived specifically from an alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) was utilized. The coculture of murine AECs with mouse Pneumocystis induced a dose- and time-dependent release of the CXC chemokine MIP-2. Importantly, the specific removal of Pneumocystis from the preparation, or the pretreatment of AECs with sulfasalazine, a potent and specific inhibitor of NF-κB, nearly completely abrogated the chemokine response to Pneumocystis. Since the murine MIP-2 promoter contains consensus κB binding sequences, the ability of Pneumocystis to stimulate NF-κB signaling in AECs was examined. Pneumocystis stimulation of an AEC line stably transfected with a κB-dependent reporter construct triggered the NF-κB signaling pathway and reporter production. These data were confirmed in gel shift assays, providing direct evidence that Pneumocystis induced the nuclear translocation of the p50/p65 heterodimeric form of NF-κB. Maximal NF-κB activation was dependent upon direct contact with viable Pneumocystis organisms. These data demonstrate that Pneumocystis activates NF-κB signaling in AECs and establish a reporter cell line for studying NF-κB activation in AECs. Given the global regulatory functions of the NF-κB family, these findings suggest that Pneumocystis directly alters AEC gene expression in a manner that promotes pulmonary immune and inflammatory responses.
Hoechst 33258 is a compound that binds nucleic acids. We report that Hoechst 33258 exhibits antimicrobial activity against Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. muris in a mouse model for P. carinii pneumonia and against Candida albicans and Candida dubliniensis in vitro. Relative to saline treatment, a 14-day, daily treatment of mice with 37.5 mg of Hoechst 33258/kg of body weight after inoculation with P. carinii reduced by about 100-fold the number of P. carinii organisms detected by either PCR or by microscopy after silver staining. For comparison, treatment based on a dose of 15 to 20 mg of the trimethoprim component in trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole/kg reduced the number of P. carinii by about fourfold. In vitro inhibition of P. carinii group I intron splicing was observed with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50)of 30 μM in 2 or 4 mM Mg2+, suggesting RNA as a possible target. However, Hoechst 33258 inhibits growth of Candida strains with and without group I introns. IC50s ranged from 1 to 9 μM for strains with group I introns and were 12 and 32 μM for two strains without group I introns. These studies demonstrate that compounds that bind fungal nucleic acids have the potential to be developed as new therapeutics for Pneumocystis and possibly other fungi, especially if they could be directed to structures that are not present in mammalian cells, such as self-splicing introns.
Neutrophils are implicated in the damage of lung tissue in many disease states, including infectious diseases and environmental insults. These effects may be due to oxidative or nonoxidative functions of the neutrophil or both. We examined the role of neutrophils in pulmonary damage during infection with the opportunistic fungal pathogen Pneumocystis sp. in four mouse models of neutrophil dysfunction. These were (i) a knockout of the gp91phox component of NADPH oxidase, in which reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is greatly reduced; (ii) a double knockout of gp91phox and inducible nitric oxide synthase, in which ROS and nitric oxide production is greatly decreased; (iii) a knockout of the chemokine receptor CXCR2, in which accumulation of intra-alveolar neutrophils is severely diminished; and (iv) antibody depletion of circulating neutrophils in wild-type mice with the monoclonal antibody RB6. Surprisingly, in each case, indicators of pulmonary damage (respiratory rates, arterial oxygen partial pressures, and intra-alveolar albumin concentrations) were the same in knockout mice and comparable wild-type mice. Therefore, whereas neutrophils are a valid correlative marker of lung damage during Pneumocystis infection, neither neutrophils nor ROS appear to be the causative agent of tissue damage. We also show that there is no difference in Pneumocystis burdens between wild-type and knockout mice, which supports the idea that neutrophils do not have a major role in the clearance of this organism.
Passive antibody immunoprophylaxis is one method used to protect patients against infection if they are unable to mount an adequate active immune response. Topical application of antibody may be effective against infections at mucosal sites. Using a SCID mouse model of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, we were able to demonstrate protection against an airborne challenge with P. carinii by intranasal administration of antibody. Immunoglobulin M (IgM) monoclonal antibodies to an epitope shared by mouse and human P. carinii organisms reduced organism numbers by more than 99% under the conditions described. An IgG1 switch variant of one of the IgM monoclonal antibodies was also protective. These experiments provide a model for exploring the utility of this approach in protecting at-risk patients from infection with P. carinii.
During Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in mice, the degree of pulmonary inflammation correlates directly with the severity of lung function deficits. Therefore, studies were undertaken to determine whether the host inflammatory response contributes to PCP-related respiratory impairment, at least in part, by disrupting the pulmonary surfactant system. Protein and phospholipid content and surfactant activity were measured in the lavage fluid of infected mice in either the absence or presence of an inflammatory response. At 9 weeks postinfection with P. carinii, nonreconstituted SCID mice exhibited no signs of pulmonary inflammation, respiratory impairment, or surfactant dysfunction. Lavage fluid obtained from these mice had protein/phospholipid (Pr/PL) ratios (64% ± 4.7%) and minimum surface tension values (4.0 ± 0.9 mN/m) similar to those of P. carinii-free control mice. However, when infected SCID mice were immunologically reconstituted, an intense inflammatory response ensued. Pr/PL ratios (218% ± 42%) and minimum surface tension values (27.2 ± 2.7 mN/m) of the lavage fluid were significantly elevated compared to those of the lavage fluid from infected, nonreconstituted mice (P < 0.05). To examine the specific role of CD8+ T-cell-mediated inflammation in surfactant dysfunction during PCP, mice with defined T-cell populations were studied. P. carinii-infected, CD4+-depleted mice had elevated lavage fluid Pr/PL ratios (126% ± 20%) and elevated minimum surface tension values (16.3 ± 1.0 mN/m) compared to normal mice (P < 0.05). However, when infected mice were additionally depleted of CD8+ cells, Pr/PL ratios were normal and surfactant activity was improved. These findings demonstrate that the surfactant pathology associated with PCP is related to the inflammatory process rather than being a direct effect of P. carinii. Moreover, CD8+ lymphocytes are involved in the mechanism leading to surfactant dysfunction.
Severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice lack functional lymphocytes and therefore develop Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. However, when infected SCID mice are immunologically reconstituted with congenic spleen cells, a protective inflammatory cascade is initiated. Proinflammatory cytokines are produced, and lymphocytes and macrophages are recruited specifically to alveolar sites of infection. Importantly, uninfected regions of the lung remain free from inflammatory involvement, suggesting that there are specific mechanisms that limit inflammation in the infected lung. Therefore, to determine whether chemokines are involved in targeting the P. carinii-driven inflammatory response, steady-state mRNA levels of several chemokines were measured in the lungs of both reconstituted and nonreconstituted P. carinii-infected SCID mice. Despite significant organism burdens in the lungs of 8- and 10-week-old SCID mice, there was no evidence of elevated chemokine gene expression, which is consistent with the lack of an inflammatory response in these animals. However, when 8-week-old infected SCID mice were immunologically reconstituted, signs of focal pulmonary inflammation were observed, and levels of RANTES, MCP-1, lymphotactin, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, and MIP-2 mRNAs were all significantly elevated. Chemokine mRNA abundance was elevated at day 10 postreconstitution (PR), was maximal at day 12 PR, and returned to baseline by day 22 PR. In situ hybridization demonstrated that during the peak of inflammation, RANTES gene expression was localized to sites of inflammatory cell infiltration and P. carinii infection. Thus, these observations indicate that chemokines play a role in the focal targeting of inflammatory cell recruitment to sites of P. carinii infection after the passive transfer of lymphocytes to the host.
Pneumocystis carinii is an important pulmonary pathogen responsible for morbidity and mortality in patients with AIDS. The acute-phase response (APR), the primary mechanism used by the body to restore homeostasis following infection, is characterized by increased levels of circulating fibrinogen (FBG). Although the liver is the primary site of increased FBG synthesis during the APR, we unexpectedly discovered that FBG is synthesized and secreted by lung alveolar epithelial cells in vitro during an inflammatory stimulus. Therefore, we sought to determine whether lung epithelial cells produce FBG in vivo using animal models of P. carinii pneumonia (PCP). Inflammation was noted by an influx of macrophages to P. carinii-infected alveoli. Northern hybridization revealed that γ-FBG mRNA increased two- to fivefold in P. carinii-infected lung tissue, while RNA in situ hybridization demonstrated increased levels of γ-FBG mRNA in the lung epithelium. Immunoelectron microscopy detected lung epithelial cell-specific production of FBG, suggesting induction of a localized inflammatory response resembling the APR. A systemic APR was confirmed by a two- to fivefold upregulation of the levels of hepatic γ-FBG mRNA in animals with PCP, resulting in a corresponding increase in levels of FBG in plasma. Furthermore, immunoelectron microscopy revealed the presence of FBG at the junction of cell membranes of trophic forms of P. carinii organisms aggregated along the alveolar epithelium. These results implicate FBG in the pathogenesis of PCP in a manner similar to that of the adhesive glycoproteins fibronectin and vitronectin, which are known to participate in intra-alveolar aggregation of organisms and adherence of P. carinii to the lung epithelium.