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author:("naggar, Amit")
1.  Pulmonary MMP-9 Activity in Mechanically Ventilated Children with RSV Disease 
The European respiratory journal  2013;43(4):1086-1096.
RSV infection is a potent stimulus for airway epithelial expression of MMP-9, and MMP-9 activity in vivo is a predictor of disease severity in children with RSV-induced respiratory failure (RSV-RF).
Human airway epithelial cells were infected with RSV A2 strain, and analyzed for MMP-9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1, a natural inhibitor of MMP-9) release. In addition, endotracheal samples from children with RSV-RF and controls (non-RSV pneumonia and non-lung disease controls) were analyzed for MMP-9, TIMP-1, human neutrophil elastase (HNE) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity.
RSV infection of airway epithelia was sufficient to rapidly induce MMP-9 transcription and protein release. Pulmonary MMP-9 activity peaked at 48 hours in infants with RSV-RF compared to controls. In the RSV group, MMP-9 activity and MMP-9:TIMP-1 ratio imbalance predicted higher oxygen requirement and worse Pediatric Risk of Mortality scores. Highest levels of HNE and MPO were measured in the RSV cohort but unlike MMP-9, these neutrophil markers failed to predict disease severity.
These results support the hypothesis that RSV is a potent stimulus for MMP-9 expression and release from human airway epithelium, and that MMP-9 is an important biomarker of disease severity in mechanically ventilated children with RSV lung infection.
PMCID: PMC4059407  PMID: 24311764
2.  The role of matrix metalloproteases in cystic fibrosis lung disease 
The European respiratory journal  2011;38(3):721-727.
Significant airway remodeling is a major component of the increased morbidity and mortality observed in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. These airways feature ongoing leukocytic inflammation and unrelenting bacterial infection. In contrast to acute bacterial pneumonia, CF infection is not cleared efficiently and the ensuing inflammatory response causes tissue damage. This structural damage is mainly a result of free proteolytic activity released by infiltrated neutrophils and macrophages. Major proteases in this disease are serine and matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). While the role of serine proteases, such as elastase, has been characterized in detail, there is emerging evidence that MMPs could play a key role in the pathogenesis of CF lung disease. This review summarizes studies linking MMPs with CF lung disease and discusses the potential value of MMPs as future therapeutic targets in CF and other chronic lung diseases.
PMCID: PMC4036453  PMID: 21233269
Cystic fibrosis; lung disease; elastase; neutrophil; proteases; antiproteases
3.  Targeting Prolyl Endopeptidase with Valproic Acid as a Potential Modulator of Neutrophilic Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97594.
A novel neutrophil chemoattractant derived from collagen, proline-glycine-proline (PGP), has been recently characterized in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This peptide is derived via the proteolytic activity of matrix metalloproteases (MMP's)-8/9 and PE, enzymes produced by neutrophils and present in COPD serum and sputum. Valproic acid (VPA) is an inhibitor of PE and could possibly have an effect on the severity of chronic inflammation. Here the interaction site of VPA to PE and the resulting effect on the secondary structure of PE is investigated. Also, the potential inhibition of PGP-generation by VPA was examined in vitro and in vivo to improve our understanding of the biological role of VPA. UV- visible, fluorescence spectroscopy, CD and NMR were used to determine kinetic information and structural interactions between VPA and PE. In vitro, PGP generation was significantly inhibited by VPA. In vivo, VPA significantly reduced cigarette-smoke induced neutrophil influx. Investigating the molecular interaction between VPA and PE showed that VPA modified the secondary structure of PE, making substrate binding at the catalytic side of PE impossible. Revealing the molecular interaction VPA to PE may lead to a better understanding of the involvement of PE and PGP in inflammatory conditions. In addition, the model of VPA interaction with PE suggests that PE inhibitors have a great potential to serve as therapeutics in inflammatory disorders.
PMCID: PMC4023971  PMID: 24835793
4.  Basal Gene Expression by Lung CD4+ T Cells in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Identifies Independent Molecular Correlates of Airflow Obstruction and Emphysema Extent 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96421.
Lung CD4+ T cells accumulate as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) progresses, but their role in pathogenesis remains controversial. To address this controversy, we studied lung tissue from 53 subjects undergoing clinically-indicated resections, lung volume reduction, or transplant. Viable single-cell suspensions were analyzed by flow cytometry or underwent CD4+ T cell isolation, followed either by stimulation with anti-CD3 and cytokine/chemokine measurement, or by real-time PCR analysis. In lung CD4+ T cells of most COPD subjects, relative to lung CD4+ T cells in smokers with normal spirometry: (a) stimulation induced minimal IFN-γ or other inflammatory mediators, but many subjects produced more CCL2; (b) the T effector memory subset was less uniformly predominant, without correlation with decreased IFN-γ production. Analysis of unstimulated lung CD4+ T cells of all subjects identified a molecular phenotype, mainly in COPD, characterized by markedly reduced mRNA transcripts for the transcription factors controlling TH1, TH2, TH17 and FOXP3+ T regulatory subsets and their signature cytokines. This mRNA-defined CD4+ T cell phenotype did not result from global inability to elaborate mRNA; increased transcripts for inhibitory CD28 family members or markers of anergy; or reduced telomerase length. As a group, these subjects had significantly worse spirometry, but not DLCO, relative to subjects whose lung CD4+ T cells expressed a variety of transcripts. Analysis of mRNA transcripts of unstimulated lung CD4+ T cell among all subjects identified two distinct molecular correlates of classical COPD clinical phenotypes: basal IL-10 transcripts correlated independently and inversely with emphysema extent (but not spirometry); by contrast, unstimulated IFN-γ transcripts correlated independently and inversely with reduced spirometry (but not reduced DLCO or emphysema extent). Aberrant lung CD4+ T cells polarization appears to be common in advanced COPD, but also exists in some smokers with normal spirometry, and may contribute to development and progression of specific COPD phenotypes.
Trial Registration as NCT00281229
PMCID: PMC4013040  PMID: 24805101
5.  A Novel Proteolytic Cascade Generates an Extracellular Matrix-Derived Chemoattractant in Chronic Neutrophilic Inflammation1,2 
Chronic neutrophilic inflammation is a manifestation of a variety of lung diseases including cystic fibrosis (CF). There is increasing evidence that fragments of extracellular matrix proteins, such as collagen and elastin, play an important role in inflammatory cell recruitment to the lung in animal models of airway inflammation. Unfortunately, the association of these peptides with human disease and the identification of therapeutic targets directed toward these inflammatory pathways have remained elusive. In this study, we demonstrate that a novel extracellular matrix-derived neutrophil chemoattractant, proline-glycine-proline (PGP), acts through CXC receptors 1 and 2 on neutrophils, similar to N-acetylated proline-glycine-proline (N-α-PGP). We describe the specific multistep proteolytic pathway involved in PGP generation from collagen, involving matrix metalloproteases 8 and 9 and prolyl endopeptidase, a serine protease for which we identify a novel role in inflammation. PGP generation correlates closely with airway neutrophil counts after administration of proteases in vivo. Using CF as a model, we show that CF sputum has elevated levels of PGP peptides and that PGP levels decline during the course of CF inpatient therapy for acute pulmonary exacerbation, pointing to its role as a novel biomarker for this disease. Finally, we demonstrate that CF secretions are capable of generating PGP from collagen ex vivo and that this generation is significantly attenuated by the use of inhibitors directed toward matrix metalloprotease 8, matrix metalloprotease 9, or prolyl endopeptidase. These experiments highlight unique protease interactions with structural proteins regulating innate immunity and support a role for these peptides as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for chronic, neutrophilic lung diseases.
PMCID: PMC3998665  PMID: 18390751
6.  The Tumor Necrosis Factor α (-308 A/G) Polymorphism Is Associated with Cystic Fibrosis in Mexican Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90945.
Environmental and genetic factors may modify or contribute to the phenotypic differences observed in multigenic and monogenic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis (CF). An analysis of modifier genes can be helpful for estimating patient prognosis and directing preventive care. The aim of this study is to determine the association between seven genetic variants of four modifier genes and CF by comparing their corresponding allelic and genotypic frequencies in CF patients (n = 81) and control subjects (n = 104). Genetic variants of MBL2 exon 1 (A, B, C and D), the IL-8 promoter (−251 A/T), the TNFα promoter (TNF1/TNF2), and SERPINA1 (PI*Z and PI*S) were tested in CF patients and control subjects from northeastern Mexico by PCR-RFLP.
The TNF2 allele (P = 0.012, OR 3.43, 95% CI 1.25–9.38) was significantly associated with CF under the dominant and additive models but was not associated with CF under the recessive model. This association remained statistically significant after adjusting for multiple tests using the Bonferroni correction (P = 0.0482). The other tested variants and genotypes did not show any association with the disease.
An analysis of seven genetic variants of four modifier genes showed that one variant, the TNF2 allele, appears to be significantly associated with CF in Mexican patients.
PMCID: PMC3946307  PMID: 24603877
7.  P21-PARP-1 Pathway Is Involved in Cigarette Smoke-Induced Lung DNA Damage and Cellular Senescence 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80007.
Persistent DNA damage triggers cellular senescence, which may play an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)-induced lung diseases. Both p21CDKN1A (p21) and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) are involved in DNA damage and repair. However, the role of p21-PARP-1 axis in regulating CS-induced lung DNA damage and cellular senescence remains unknown. We hypothesized that CS causes DNA damage and cellular senescence through a p21-PARP-1 axis. To test this hypothesis, we determined the levels of γH2AX (a marker for DNA double-strand breaks) as well as non-homologous end joining proteins (Ku70 and Ku80) in lungs of mice exposed to CS. We found that the level of γH2AX was increased, whereas the level of Ku70 was reduced in lungs of CS-exposed mice. Furthermore, p21 deletion reduced the level of γH2AX, but augmented the levels of Ku70, Ku80, and PAR in lungs by CS. Administration of PARP-1 inhibitor 3-aminobenzamide increased CS-induced DNA damage, but lowered the levels of Ku70 and Ku80, in lungs of p21 knockout mice. Moreover, 3-aminobenzamide increased senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity, but decreased the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen in mouse lungs in response to CS. Interestingly, 3-aminobenzamide treatment had no effect on neutrophil influx into bronchoalveolar lavage fluid by CS. These results demonstrate that the p21-PARP-1 pathway is involved in CS-induced DNA damage and cellular senescence.
PMCID: PMC3823706  PMID: 24244594
8.  Normalized T1 Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Assessment of Regional Lung Function in Adult Cystic Fibrosis Patients - A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73286.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients would benefit from a safe and effective tool to detect early-stage, regional lung disease to allow for early intervention. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe, non-invasive procedure capable of providing quantitative assessments of disease without ionizing radiation. We developed a rapid normalized T1 MRI technique to detect regional lung disease in early-stage CF patients.
Materials and Methods
Conventional multislice, pulmonary T1 relaxation time maps were obtained for 10 adult CF patients with normal spirometry and 5 healthy non-CF control subjects using a rapid Look-Locker MRI acquisition (5 seconds/imaging slice). Each lung absolute T1 map was separated into six regions of interest (ROI) by manually selecting upper, central, and lower lung regions in the left and right lungs. In order to reduce the effects of subject-to-subject variation, normalized T1 maps were calculated by dividing each pixel in the absolute T1 maps by the mean T1 time in the central lung region. The primary outcome was the differences in mean normalized T1 values in the upper lung regions between CF patients with normal spirometry and healthy volunteers.
Normalized T1 (nT1) maps showed visibly reduced subject-to-subject variation in comparison to conventional absolute T1 maps for healthy volunteers. An ROI analysis showed that the variation in the nT1 values in all regions was ≤2% of the mean. The primary outcome, the mean (SD) of the normalized T1 values in the upper right lung regions, was significantly lower in the CF subjects [.914 (.037)] compared to the upper right lung regions of the healthy subjects [.983 (.003)] [difference of .069 (95% confidence interval .032−.105); p = .001). Similar results were seen in the upper left lung region.
Rapid normalized T1 MRI relaxometry obtained in 5 seconds/imaging slice may be used to detect regional early-stage lung disease in CF patients.
PMCID: PMC3783461  PMID: 24086277
9.  Characterization and Prevention of the Adsorption of Surfactant Protein D to Polypropylene 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73467.
Surfactant Protein D (SP-D) is a multifunctional protein present in the lung and in respiratory secretions. In the process of developing new experimental approaches to examine SP-D function, we observed that SP-D adsorbs to polypropylene tubes to a great extent, thereby depleting SP-D from the solution. Although it is well known that proteins adsorb nonspecifically to plastic, this effect is usually diminished by treatments to make the plastic “low-retention” or “low-binding”. However, these treatments actually increased the binding of SP-D to the plastic. In addition, this adsorption affected the results of several assays, including proteolytic cleavage assays. In order to block SP-D from adsorbing to polypropylene and the effects caused by this adsorption, we coated the tubes with bovine serum albumin (BSA), as is commonly performed for ELISAs. This coating greatly diminished the amount of SP-D sticking to the plastic, providing an inexpensive and effective method for preventing adsorption and the artifacts resulting from this adsorption.
PMCID: PMC3770593  PMID: 24039953
10.  IP-10 Is a Potential Biomarker of Cystic Fibrosis Acute Pulmonary Exacerbations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72398.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterized by acute pulmonary exacerbations (APE). The CF nasal airway exhibits a similar ion transport defect as the lung, and colonization, infection, and inflammation within the nasal passages are common among CF patients. Nasal lavage fluid (NLF) is a minimally invasive means to collect upper airway samples.
We collected NLF at the onset and resolution of CF APE and compared a 27-plex cytokine profile to stable CF outpatients and normal controls. We also tested IP-10 levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of CF patients. Well-differentiated murine sinonasal monolayers were exposed to bacterial stimulus, and IP-10 levels were measured to test epithelial secretion.
Subjects hospitalized for APE had elevated IP-10 (2582 pg/mL [95% CL of mean: 818,8165], N=13) which significantly decreased (647 pg/mL [357,1174], P<0.05, N =13) following antimicrobial therapy. Stable CF outpatients exhibited intermediately elevated levels (680 pg/mL [281,1644], N=13) that were less than CF inpatients upon admission (P=0.056) but not significantly different than normal controls (342 pg/mL [110,1061]; P=0.3, N=10). IP-10 was significantly increased in CF BALF (2673 pg/mL [1306,5458], N=10) compared to healthy post-lung transplant patients (8.4 pg/mL [0.03,2172], N=5, P<0.001). IP-10 levels from well-differentiated CF murine nasal epithelial monolayers exposed to Pseudomonas PAO-1 bacteria-free prep or LPS (100 nM) apically for 24 hours were significantly elevated (1159 ± 147, P<0.001 for PAO-1; 1373 ± 191, P<0.001 for LPS vs. 305 ± 68 for vehicle controls). Human sino-nasal epithelial cells derived from CF patients had a similar response to LPS (34% increase, P<0.05, N=6).
IP-10 is elevated in the nasal lavage of CF patients with APE and responds to antimicrobial therapy. IP-10 is induced by airway epithelia following stimulation with bacterial pathogens in a murine model. Additional research regarding IP-10 as a potential biomarker is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3745468  PMID: 23977293
11.  Free Radical-Producing Myeloid-Derived Regulatory Cells: Potent Activators and Suppressors of Lung Inflammation and Airway Hyperresponsiveness 
Mucosal immunology  2011;4(5):503-518.
Levels of reactive free radicals are elevated in the airway during asthmatic exacerbations, but their roles in the pathophysiology of asthma remain unclear. We have identified subsets of myeloid-derived suppressor-like cells as key sources of nitric oxide and superoxide in the lungs of mice with evolving experimental allergic airway inflammation and established these cells as master regulators of the airway inflammatory response. The profiles of free radicals they produced depended on expression of iNOS, arginase, and NADPH oxidase. These radicals controlled the pro- and anti-inflammatory potential of these cells, and also regulated the reciprocal pattern of their infiltration into the lung. The nitric oxide-producing cells were Ly-6C+Ly-6G− and down-modulated T cell activation, recruited Treg cells, and dramatically down-regulated antigen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness. The superoxide-producing cells were Ly-6C−Ly-6G+ and expressed proinflammatory activities, exacerbating airway hyperresponsiveness in a superoxide-dependent fashion. A smaller population of Ly-6C+Ly-6G+ cells also suppressed T cell responses, but in an iNOS- and arginase-independent fashion. These regulatory myeloid cells represent important targets for asthma therapy.
PMCID: PMC3694614  PMID: 21471960
12.  Anti-Inflammatory Mechanisms of Apolipoprotein A-I Mimetic Peptide in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Secondary to Sepsis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64486.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to sepsis has a high mortality rate with limited treatment options. High density lipoprotein (HDL) exerts innate protective effects in systemic inflammation. However, its role in ARDS has not been well studied. Peptides such as L-4F mimic the secondary structural features and functions of apolipoprotein (apo)A-I, the major protein component of HDL. We set out to measure changes in HDL in sepsis-mediated ARDS patients, and to study the potential of L-4F to prevent sepsis-mediated ARDS in a rodent model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-mediated acute lung injury, and a combination of primary human leukocytes and human ARDS serum. We also analyzed serum from non-lung disease intubated patients (controls) and sepsis-mediated ARDS patients. Compared to controls, ARDS demonstrates increased serum endotoxin and IL-6 levels, and decreased HDL, apoA-I and activity of anti-oxidant HDL-associated paraoxanase-1. L-4F inhibits the activation of isolated human leukocytes and neutrophils by ARDS serum and LPS in vitro. Further, L-4F decreased endotoxin activity and preserved anti-oxidant properties of HDL both in vitro and in vivo. In a rat model of severe endotoxemia, L-4F significantly decreased mortality and reduces lung and liver injury, even when administered 1 hour post LPS. Our study suggests the protective role of the apoA-I mimetic peptide L-4F in ARDS and gram-negative endotoxemia and warrant further clinical evaluation. The main protective mechanisms of L-4F are due to direct inhibition of endotoxin activity and preservation of HDL anti-oxidant activity.
PMCID: PMC3653907  PMID: 23691230
13.  Reduced IL-10 Production in Fetal Type II Epithelial Cells Exposed to Mechanical Stretch Is Mediated via Activation of IL-6-SOCS3 Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59598.
An imbalance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines is a key factor in the lung injury of premature infants exposed to mechanical ventilation. Previous studies have shown that lung cells exposed to stretch produces reduced amounts of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. The objective of these studies was to analyze the signaling mechanisms responsible for the decreased IL-10 production in fetal type II cells exposed to mechanical stretch. Fetal mouse type II epithelial cells isolated at embryonic day 18 were exposed to 20% stretch to simulate lung injury. We show that IL-10 receptor gene expression increased with gestational age. Mechanical stretch decreased not only IL-10 receptor gene expression but also IL-10 secretion. In contrast, mechanical stretch increased release of IL-6. We then investigated IL-10 signaling pathway-associated proteins and found that in wild-type cells, mechanical stretch decreased activation of JAK1 and TYK2 and increased STAT3 and SOCS3 activation. However, opposite effects were found in cells isolated from IL-10 knockout mice. Reduction in IL-6 secretion by stretch was observed in cells isolated from IL-10 null mice. To support the idea that stretch-induced SOCS3 expression via IL-6 leads to reduced IL-10 expression, siRNA-mediated inhibition of SOCS3 restored IL-10 secretion in cells exposed to stretch and decreased IL-6 secretion. Taken together, these studies suggest that the inhibitory effect of mechanical stretch on IL-10 secretion is mediated via activation of IL-6-STAT3-SOCS3 signaling pathway. SOCS3 could be a therapeutic target to increase IL-10 production in lung cells exposed to mechanical injury.
PMCID: PMC3602195  PMID: 23527226
14.  Characterization of Nasal Potential Difference in cftr Knockout and F508del-CFTR Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57317.
Treatments designed to correct cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) defects must first be evaluated in preclinical experiments in the mouse model of cystic fibrosis (CF). Mice nasal mucosa mimics the bioelectric defect seen in humans. The use of nasal potential difference (VTE) to assess ionic transport is a powerful test evaluating the restoration of CFTR function. Nasal VTE in CF mice must be well characterized for correct interpretation.
We performed VTE measurements in large-scale studies of two mouse models of CF—B6;129 cftr knockout and FVB F508del-CFTR—and their respective wild-type (WT) littermates. We assessed the repeatability of the test for cftr knockout mice and defined cutoff points distinguishing between WT and F508del-CFTR mice.
We determined the typical VTE values for CF and WT mice and demonstrated the existence of residual CFTR activity in F508del-CFTR mice. We characterized intra-animal variability in B6;129 mice and defined the cutoff points for F508del-CFTR chloride secretion rescue. Hyperpolarization of more than -2.15 mV after perfusion with a low-concentration Cl- solution was considered to indicate a normal response.
These data will make it possible to interpret changes in nasal VTE in mouse models of CF, in future preclinical studies.
PMCID: PMC3591431  PMID: 23505426
15.  Dexamethasone Attenuates VEGF Expression and Inflammation but Not Barrier Dysfunction in a Murine Model of Ventilator–Induced Lung Injury 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57374.
Ventilator–induced lung injury (VILI) is characterized by vascular leakage and inflammatory responses eventually leading to pulmonary dysfunction. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been proposed to be involved in the pathogenesis of VILI. This study examines the inhibitory effect of dexamethasone on VEGF expression, inflammation and alveolar–capillary barrier dysfunction in an established murine model of VILI.
Healthy male C57Bl/6 mice were anesthetized, tracheotomized and mechanically ventilated for 5 hours with an inspiratory pressure of 10 cmH2O (“lower” tidal volumes of ∼7.5 ml/kg; LVT) or 18 cmH2O (“higher” tidal volumes of ∼15 ml/kg; HVT). Dexamethasone was intravenously administered at the initiation of HVT–ventilation. Non–ventilated mice served as controls. Study endpoints included VEGF and inflammatory mediator expression in lung tissue, neutrophil and protein levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, PaO2 to FiO2 ratios and lung wet to dry ratios.
Particularly HVT–ventilation led to alveolar–capillary barrier dysfunction as reflected by reduced PaO2 to FiO2 ratios, elevated alveolar protein levels and increased lung wet to dry ratios. Moreover, VILI was associated with enhanced VEGF production, inflammatory mediator expression and neutrophil infiltration. Dexamethasone treatment inhibited VEGF and pro–inflammatory response in lungs of HVT–ventilated mice, without improving alveolar–capillary permeability, gas exchange and pulmonary edema formation.
Dexamethasone treatment completely abolishes ventilator–induced VEGF expression and inflammation. However, dexamethasone does not protect against alveolar–capillary barrier dysfunction in an established murine model of VILI.
PMCID: PMC3581459  PMID: 23451215
16.  Pyocyanin-Enhanced Neutrophil Extracellular Trap Formation Requires the NADPH Oxidase 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54205.
Beyond intracellular killing, a novel neutrophil-based antimicrobial mechanism has been recently discovered: entrapment and killing by neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). NETs consist of extruded nuclear DNA webs decorated with granule proteins. Although NET formation is an important innate immune mechanism, uncontrolled NET release damages host tissues and has been linked to several diseases including cystic fibrosis (CF). The major CF airway pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa establishes chronic infection. Pseudomonas imbedded within biofilms is protected against the immune system, but maintains chronic inflammation that worsens disease symptoms. Aberrant NET release from recruited neutrophils was found in CF, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. One of the most important Pseudomonas virulence factors is pyocyanin, a redox-active pigment that has been associated with diminished lung function in CF. Here we show that pyocyanin promotes NET formation in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Most CF Pseudomonas clinical isolates tested produce pyocyanin in vitro. Pyocyanin-derived reactive oxygen species are required for its NET release. Inhibitor experiments demonstrated involvement of Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase (PI3K) in pyocyanin-induced NET formation. Pyocyanin-induced NETs also require the NADPH oxidase because NET release in chronic granulomatous disease neutrophils was greatly reduced. Comparison of neutrophils from gp91phox- and p47phox-deficient patients revealed that pyocyanin-triggered NET formation is proportional to their residual superoxide production. Our studies identify pyocyanin as the first secreted bacterial toxin that enhances NET formation. The involvement of NADPH oxidase in pyocyanin-induced NET formation represents a novel mechanism of pyocyanin toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3544820  PMID: 23342104
17.  MMP-9 Cleaves SP-D and Abrogates Its Innate Immune Functions In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41881.
Possession of a properly functioning innate immune system in the lung is vital to prevent infections due to the ongoing exposure of the lung to pathogens. While mechanisms of pulmonary innate immunity have been well studied, our knowledge of how these systems are altered in disease states, leading to increased susceptibility to infections, is limited. One innate immune protein in the lung, the pulmonary collectin SP-D, has been shown to be important in innate immune defense, as well as clearance of allergens and apoptotic cells. MMP-9 is a protease with a wide variety of substrates, and has been found to be dysregulated in a myriad of lung diseases ranging from asthma to cystic fibrosis; in many of these conditions, there are decreased levels of SP-D. Our results indicate that MMP-9 is able to cleave SP-D in vitro and this cleavage leads to loss of its innate immune functions, including its abilities to aggregate bacteria and increase phagocytosis by mouse alveolar macrophages. However, MMP-9-cleaved SP-D was still detected in a solid-phase E. coli LPS-binding assay, while NE-cleaved SP-D was not. In addition, MMP-9 seems to cleave SP-D much more efficiently than NE at physiological levels of calcium. Previous studies have shown that in several diseases, including cystic fibrosis and asthma, patients have increased expression of MMP-9 in the lungs as well as decreased levels of intact SP-D. As patients suffering from many of the diseases in which MMP-9 is over-expressed can be more susceptible to pulmonary infections, it is possible that MMP-9 cleavage of SP-D may contribute to this phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3408449  PMID: 22860023
18.  Elevated levels of NO are localized to distal airways in asthma 
Free radical biology & medicine  2011;50(11):1679-1688.
The contribution of nitric oxide (NO) to the pathophysiology of asthma remains incompletely defined despite its established pro- and anti-inflammatory effects. Induction of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), arginase and superoxide pathways is correlated with increased airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in asthmatic subjects. To determine the contributions of these pathways in proximal and distal airways, we compared bronchial wash (BW) to traditional bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) for measurements of reactive nitrogen/oxygen species, arginase activation, and cytokine/chemokine levels in asthmatic and normal subjects. Levels of NO were preferentially elevated in the BAL, demonstrating higher-level NOS activation in the distal airway compartment of asthmatic subjects. In contrast, DHE+ cells which have the potential to generate reactive oxygen species were found to be increased in both proximal and distal airway compartments of asthmatics compared to controls. Different patterns of cytokines and chemokines were observed, with a predominance of epithelial cell-associated mediators in the BW as compared to macrophage/monocyte-derived mediators in the BAL of asthmatic subjects. Our study demonstrates differential production of reactive species and soluble mediators within the distal airways as compared to the proximal airways in asthma. These results indicate that cellular mechanisms are activated in the distal airways of asthmatics and must be considered in the development of therapeutic strategies for this chronic inflammatory disorder.
PMCID: PMC3124865  PMID: 21419218
Nitric oxide; superoxide; arginase; bronchoalveolar lavage; bronchial wash; distal airway
19.  RhoA of the Rho Family Small GTPases Is Essential for B Lymphocyte Development 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33773.
RhoA is a member of the Rho family small GTPases that are implicated in various cell functions including proliferation and survival. However, the physiological role of RhoA in vivo remains largely unknown. Here, we deleted RhoA in the B cell and hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) populations in RhoAflox/flox mice with CD19 and Mx promoter-driven Cre expression, respectively. Deletion of RhoA by CD19Cre/+ significantly blocked B cell development in spleen, leading to a marked reduction in the number of transitional, marginal zone, and follicular B cells. Surprisingly, neither B cell proliferation in response to either LPS or B cell receptor (BCR) engagement nor B cell survival rate in vivo was affected by RhoA deletion. Furthermore, RhoA−/− B cells, like control cells, were rescued from apoptosis by BCR crosslinking in vitro. In contrast, RhoA deficiency led to a defect in B cell activating factor (BAFF)-mediated B cell survival that was associated with a dampened expression of BAFF receptor and a loss of BAFF-mediated Akt activation. Finally, HSC deletion of RhoA by Mx-Cre severely reduced proB/preB and immature B cell populations in bone marrow while common lymphoid progenitors were increased, indicating that RhoA is also required for B cell progenitor/precursor differentiation. Taken together, our results uncover an important role for RhoA at multiple stages of B cell development.
PMCID: PMC3306291  PMID: 22438996
20.  Extensive surgical and comprehensive postoperative medical management for cystic fibrosis chronic rhinosinusitis 
Chronic rhinosinusitis has a major impact on the quality of life of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and may contribute to progression of chronic lung disease. Despite multiple sinus surgeries, maxillary sinus involvement is a recurrent problem. The modified endoscopic medial maxillectomy (MEMM) permits debridement in the clinic, improves mucus clearance with nasal irrigations, and increases access for topical delivery of therapeutics. However, clinical outcomes of aggressive sinus surgery with regimented postoperative medical treatment have not been systematically evaluated.
CF patients completed the 22-Item Sinonasal Outcome Test questionnaires before sinus surgery (and bilateral MEMM) and at sequential postoperative visits. Objective measures included Lund-Kennedy endoscopic score and pulmonary function tests (forced expiratory volume at 1 second percent [FEV1%] predicted). Culture-directed antibiotic therapy, prednisone, and topical irrigations were initiated postoperatively.
Twenty-two patients (mean age, 26.5 years; 4.9 prior sinus operations) underwent MEMM and sinus surgery. Symptom scores were significantly reduced at 60 days (primary outcome, 64.7 ± 18.4 presurgery versus 27.5 ± 15.3 postsurgery; p < 0.0001) and up to a year postoperatively (27.6 ± 12.6; p < 0.0001). Endoscopic scores were also reduced after surgery (10.4 ± 1.1 presurgery versus 5.7 ± 2.4 [30 days], 5.7 ± 1.4 [60 days], 5.8 ± 1.3 [120 days], and 6.0 ± 1.1 [1 year]; p < 0.0001)]. There were no differences in FEV1% predicted up to 1 year postoperatively, but hospital admissions secondary to pulmonary exacerbations significantly decreased (2.0 ± 1.4 versus 3.2 ± 2.4, respectively; p < 0.05).
Prospective evaluation indicates sinus surgery with MEMM is associated with marked improvement in sinus disease outcomes. Additional studies are necessary to confirm whether this treatment paradigm is associated with improved CF pulmonary disease.
PMCID: PMC3622282  PMID: 22391086
Antibiotics; chronic sinusitis; cystic fibrosis; endoscopic medial maxillectomy; mucociliary clearance; sinonasal outcomes; sinus surgery; SNOT-22
21.  A Real-Time PCR Antibiogram for Drug-Resistant Sepsis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28528.
Current molecular diagnostic techniques for susceptibility testing of septicemia rely on genotyping for the presence of known resistance cassettes. This technique is intrinsically vulnerable due to the inability to detect newly emergent resistance genes. Traditional phenotypic susceptibility testing has always been a superior method to assay for resistance; however, relying on the multi-day growth period to determine which antimicrobial to administer jeopardizes patient survival. These factors have resulted in the widespread and deleterious use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials. The real-time PCR antibiogram, described herein, combines universal phenotypic susceptibility testing with the rapid diagnostic capabilities of PCR. We have developed a procedure that determines susceptibility by monitoring pathogenic load with the highly conserved 16S rRNA gene in blood samples exposed to different antimicrobial drugs. The optimized protocol removes heme and human background DNA from blood, which allows standard real-time PCR detection systems to be employed with high sensitivity (<100 CFU/mL). Three strains of E. coli, two of which were antimicrobial resistant, were spiked into whole blood and exposed to three different antibiotics. After real-time PCR-based determination of pathogenic load, a ΔCt<3.0 between untreated and treated samples was found to indicate antimicrobial resistance (P<0.01). Minimum inhibitory concentration was determined for susceptible bacteria and pan-bacterial detection was demonstrated with 3 Gram-negative and 2 Gram-positive bacteria. Species identification was performed via analysis of the hypervariable amplicons. In summary, we have developed a universal diagnostic phenotyping technique that assays for the susceptibility of drug-resistant septicemia with the speed of PCR. The real-time PCR antibiogram achieves detection, susceptibility testing, minimum inhibitory concentration determination, and identification in less than 24 hours.
PMCID: PMC3229610  PMID: 22164303
22.  Early Elevation of Matrix Metalloproteinase-8 and -9 in Pediatric ARDS Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22596.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) -8 and -9 may play key roles in the modulation of neutrophilic lung inflammation seen in pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). We aimed to perform a comprehensive analysis of MMP-8 and MMP-9 activity in tracheal aspirates of pediatric ARDS patients compared with non-ARDS controls, testing whether increased MMP-8 and -9 activities were associated with clinical outcomes.
Tracheal aspirates were collected from 33 pediatric ARDS patients and 21 non-ARDS controls at 48 hours of intubation, and serially for those who remained intubated greater than five days. MMPs, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), human neutrophil elastase (HNE) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity were measured by ELISA, and correlated with clinical indicators of disease severity such as PRISM (Pediatric Risk of Mortality) scores, oxygen index (OI), multi-organ system failure (MOSF) and clinical outcome measures including length of intubation, ventilator-free days (VFDs) and mortality in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
Active MMP-9 was elevated early in pediatric ARDS subjects compared to non-ARDS controls. Higher MMP-8 and active MMP-9 levels at 48 hours correlated with a longer course of mechanical ventilation (r = 0.41, p = 0.018 and r = 0.75, p<0.001; respectively) and fewer number of VFDs (r = −0.43, p = 0.013 and r = −0.76, p<0.001; respectively), independent of age, gender and severity of illness. Patients with the highest number of ventilator days had the highest levels of active MMP-9. MMP-9 and to a lesser extent MMP-8 activities in tracheal aspirates from ARDS subjects were sensitive to blockade by small molecule inhibitors.
Higher MMP-8 and active MMP-9 levels at 48 hours of disease onset are associated with a longer duration of mechanical ventilation and fewer ventilator-free days among pediatric patients with ARDS. Together, these results identify early biomarkers predictive of disease course and potential therapeutic targets for this life threatening disease.
PMCID: PMC3152289  PMID: 21857935
23.  A critical role for LTA4H in limiting chronic pulmonary neutrophilic inflammation 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6000):90-94.
Leukotriene A4 Hydrolase (LTA4H) is a pro-inflammatory enzyme which generates the inflammatory mediator leukotriene B4 (LTB4). LTA4H also possesses aminopeptidase activity with unknown substrate and physiological significance. We identified the neutrophil chemoattractant, Pro-Gly-Pro (PGP), as this physiological substrate. PGP is a biomarker for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is implicated in neutrophil persistence in the lung. In acute neutrophil driven inflammation, PGP was degraded by LTA4H, which facilitated the resolution of inflammation. In contrast, cigarette smoke, a major risk factor for the development of COPD, selectively inhibited LTA4H aminopeptidase activity, which led to the accumulation of PGP and neutrophils. These studies imply that therapeutic strategies that inhibit LTA4H to prevent LTB4 generation may not reduce neutrophil recruitment because of elevated PGP.
PMCID: PMC3072752  PMID: 20813919
24.  Acellular Pertussis Booster in Adolescents Induces Th1 and Memory CD8+ T Cell Immune Response 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17271.
In a number of countries, whole cell pertussis vaccines (wcP) were replaced by acellular vaccines (aP) due to an improved reactogenicity profile. Pertussis immunization leads to specific antibody production with the help of CD4+ T cells. In earlier studies in infants and young children, wcP vaccines selectively induced a Th1 dominated immune response, whereas aP vaccines led to a Th2 biased response. To obtain data on Th1 or Th2 dominance of the immune response in adolescents receiving an aP booster immunization after a wcP or aP primary immunization, we analyzed the concentration of Th1 (IL-2, TNF-α, INF-γ) and Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10) cytokines in supernatants of lymphocyte cultures specifically stimulated with pertussis antigens. We also investigated the presence of cytotoxic T cell responses against the facultative intracellular bacterium Bordetella pertussis by quantifying pertussis-specific CD8+ T cell activation following the aP booster immunization. Here we show that the adolescent aP booster vaccination predominantly leads to a Th1 immune response based on IFNgamma secretion upon stimulation with pertussis antigen, irrespective of a prior whole cell or acellular primary vaccination. The vaccination also induces an increase in peripheral CD8+CD69+ activated pertussis-specific memory T cells four weeks after vaccination. The Th1 bias of this immune response could play a role for the decreased local reactogenicity of this adolescent aP booster immunization when compared to the preceding childhood acellular pertussis booster. Pertussis-specific CD8+ memory T cells may contribute to protection against clinical pertussis.
PMCID: PMC3050840  PMID: 21408149
25.  Gender Differences in Plasma Biomarker Levels in a Cohort of COPD Patients: A Pilot Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16021.
Little is known about gender differences in plasma biomarker levels in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
There are differences in serum biomarker levels between women and men with COPD.
Explore gender differences in plasma biomarker levels in patients with COPD and smokers without COPD.
We measured plasma levels of IL-6, IL-8, IL-16, MCP-1, MMP-9, PARC and VEGF in 80 smokers without COPD (40 males, 40 females) and 152 stable COPD patients (76 males, 76 females) with similar airflow obstruction. We determined anthropometrics, smoking history, lung function, exercise tolerance, body composition, BODE index, co-morbidities and quality of life. We then explored associations between plasma biomarkers levels and the clinical characteristics of the patients and also with the clinical and physiological variables known to predict outcome in COPD.
The plasma biomarkers level explored were similar in men and women without COPD. In contrast, in patients with COPD the median value in pg/mL of IL-6 (6.26 vs 8.0, p = 0.03), IL-16 (390 vs 321, p = 0.009) and VEGF (50 vs 87, p = 0.02) differed between women and men. Adjusted for smoking history, gender was independently associated with IL-16, PARC and VEGF levels. There were also gender differences in the associations between IL-6, IL-16 and VEGF and physiologic variables that predict outcomes.
In stable COPD patients with similar airflow obstruction, there are gender differences in plasma biomarker levels and in the association between biomarker levels and important clinical or physiological variables. Further studies should confirm our findings.
PMCID: PMC3022655  PMID: 21267454

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