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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nitric oxide; superoxide; arginase; bronchoalveolar lavage; bronchial wash; distal airway
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chronic neutrophilic inflammation is a poorly understood feature in a variety of diseases with notable worldwide morbidity and mortality. We have recently characterized N-acetyl Pro-Gly-Pro (Ac-PGP) as an important neutrophil (PMN) chemoattractant in chronic inflammation generated from the breakdown of collagen by the actions of MMP-9. MMP-9 is present in the granules of PMNs and is differentially released during inflammation but whether Ac-PGP contributes to this ongoing proteolytic activity in chronic neutrophilic inflammation is currently unknown.
Utilizing isolated primary blood PMNs from human donors, we found that Ac-PGP induces significant release of MMP-9 and concurrently activates the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway. This MMP-9 release is attenuated by an inhibitor of ERK1/2 MAPK and upstream blockade of CXCR1 and CXCR2 receptors with repertaxin leads to decreased MMP-9 release and ERK 1/2 MAPK activation. Supernatants obtained from PMNs stimulated by Ac-PGP generate more Ac-PGP when incubated with intact collagen ex vivo; this effect is inhibited by an ERK1/2 pathway inhibitor. Finally, clinical samples from individuals with CF demonstrate a notable correlation between Ac-PGP (as measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) and MMP-9 levels even when accounting for total PMN burden.
These data indicate that ECM-derived Ac-PGP could result in a feed-forward cycle by releasing MMP-9 from activated PMNs through the ligation of CXCR1 and CXCR2 and subsequent activation of the ERK1/2 MAPK, highlighting for the first time a matrix-derived chemokine (matrikine) augmenting its generation through a discrete receptor/intracellular signaling pathway. These findings have notable implications to the development unrelenting chronic PMN inflammation in human disease.
Loss of integrity of the epithelial and endothelial barriers is thought to be a prominent feature of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). Based on its function in vascular integrity, we hypothesize that the angiopoietin (Ang)-Tie2 system plays a role in the development of VILI. The present study was designed to examine the effects of mechanical ventilation on the Ang-Tie2 system in lung tissue. Moreover, we evaluated whether treatment with Ang-1, a Tie2 receptor agonist, protects against inflammation, vascular leakage and impaired gas exchange induced by mechanical ventilation.
Mice were anesthetized, tracheotomized and mechanically ventilated for 5 hours with either an inspiratory pressure of 10 cmH2O (‘low’ tidal volume ∼7.5 ml/kg; LVT) or 18 cmH2O (‘high’ tidal volume ∼15 ml/kg; HVT). At initiation of HVT-ventilation, recombinant human Ang-1 was intravenously administered (1 or 4 µg per animal). Non-ventilated mice served as controls.
HVT-ventilation influenced the Ang-Tie2 system in lungs of healthy mice since Ang-1, Ang-2 and Tie2 mRNA were decreased. Treatment with Ang-1 increased Akt-phosphorylation indicating Tie2 signaling. Ang-1 treatment reduced infiltration of granulocytes and expression of keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC), macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 and interleukin (IL)-1β caused by HVT-ventilation. Importantly, Ang-1 treatment did not prevent vascular leakage and impaired gas exchange in HVT-ventilated mice despite inhibition of inflammation, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and Ang-2 expression.
Ang-1 treatment downregulates pulmonary inflammation, VEGF and Ang-2 expression but does not protect against vascular leakage and impaired gas exchange induced by HVT-ventilation.
Prolyl endopeptidase (PE), a protease that cleaves after proline residues in oligopeptides, is highly active in brain and degrades neuropeptides in vitro. We have recently demonstrated that PE, in concert with MMP's, can generate PGP (prolineglycine-proline), a novel, neutrophil chemoattractant, from collagen. In this study, we demonstrate that human peripheral blood neutrophils contain PE, which is constitutively active, and can generate PGP de novo from collagen after activation with LPS. This novel, pro-inflammatory role for PE raises the possibility of a self-sustaining pathway of neutrophilic inflammation and may provide biomarkers and therapeutic targets for diseases caused by chronic, neutrophilic inflammation.
neutrophil; prolyl endopeptidase; PGP; collagen; inflammation
The cystic fibrosis (CF) airway microbiome is complex; polymicrobial infections are common, and the presence of fastidious bacteria including anaerobes make culture-based diagnosis challenging. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) offers a culture-independent method for bacterial quantification that may improve diagnosis of CF airway infections; however, the reliability of qPCR applied to CF airway specimens is unknown. We sought to determine the reliability of nine specific bacterial qPCR assays (total bacteria, three typical CF pathogens, and five anaerobes) applied to CF airway specimens. Airway and salivary specimens from clinically stable pediatric CF subjects were collected. Quantitative PCR assay repeatability was determined using triplicate reactions. Split-sample measurements were performed to measure variability introduced by DNA extraction. Results from qPCR were compared to standard microbial culture for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Haemophilus influenzae, common pathogens in CF. We obtained 84 sputa, 47 oropharyngeal and 27 salivary specimens from 16 pediatric subjects with CF. Quantitative PCR detected bacterial DNA in over 97% of specimens. All qPCR assays were highly reproducible at quantities ≥102 rRNA gene copies/reaction with coefficient of variation less than 20% for over 99% of samples. There was also excellent agreement between samples processed in duplicate. Anaerobic bacteria were highly prevalent and were detected in mean quantities similar to that of typical CF pathogens. Compared to a composite gold standard, qPCR and culture had variable sensitivities for detection of P. aeruginosa, S. aureus and H. influenzae from CF airway samples. By reliably quantifying fastidious airway bacteria, qPCR may improve our understanding of polymicrobial CF lung infections, progression of lung disease and ultimately improve antimicrobial treatments.
S-nitrosothiols have been implicated in the etiology of various pulmonary diseases. Many of these diseases display gender preferences in presentation or altered severity that occurs with puberty, the mechanism by which is unknown. Estrogen has been shown to influence the expression and activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) which is associated with increased S-nitrosothiol production. The effects of gender hormones on the expression and activity of the de-nitrosylating enzyme S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNO-R) are undefined. This report evaluates the effects of gender hormones on the activity and expression of GSNO-R and its relationship to N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)-induced pulmonary hypertension (PH). GSNO-R activity was elevated in lung homogenates from female compared to male mice. Increased activity was not due to changes in GSNO-R expression, but correlated with GSNO-R S-nitrosylation: females were greater than males. The ability of GSNO-R to be activated by S-nitrosylation was confirmed by: 1) the ability of S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) to increase the activity of GSNO-R in murine pulmonary endothelial cells and 2) reduced activity of GSNO-R in lung homogenates from eNOS−/− mice. Gender differences in GSNO-R activity appear to explain the difference in the ability of NAC to induce PH: female and castrated male animals are protected from NAC-induced PH. Castration results in elevated GSNO-R activity that is similar to that seen in female animals. The data suggest that GSNO-R activity is modulated by both estrogens and androgens in conjunction with hormonal regulation of eNOS to maintain S-nitrosothiol homeostasis. Moreover, disruption of this eNOS-GSNO-R axis contributes to the development of PH.
The decline of proteasomal activity is known to be associated with the age-related disorders but the early events involved in this process are not apparent. To address this, we investigated the early-age-related (pediatric vs. adult) mechanisms that augment immunopathogenesis of sepsis and acute lung injury.
The 3-weeks (pediatric) and 6-months (adult) old C57BL/6 mice were selected as the study groups. Mice were subjected to 1×20 cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) mediated sepsis or intratracheal Psuedomonas aeruginosa (Pa)-LPS induced acute lung injury (ALI).We observed a significant increase in basal levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine, IL-6 and neutrophil activity marker, myeloperoxidase (MPO) in the adult mice compared to the pediatric indicating the age-related constitutive increase in inflammatory response. Next, we found that age-related decrease in PSMB6 (proteasomal subunit) expression in adult mice results in accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins that triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR). We identified that Pa-LPS induced activation of UPR modifier, p97/VCP (valosin-containing protein) in the adult mice lungs correlates with increase in Pa-LPS induced NFκB levels. Moreover, we observed a constitutive increase in p-eIF2α indicating a protective ER stress response to accumulation of ubiquitinated-proteins. We used MG-132 treatment of HBE cells as an in vitro model to standardize the efficacy of salubrinal (inhibitor of eIF2α de-phosphorylation) in controlling the accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins and the NFκB levels. Finally, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of salubrinal to correct proteostasis-imbalance in the adult mice based on its ability to control CLP induced IL-6 secretion or recruitment of pro-inflammatory cells.
Our data demonstrate the critical role of early-age-related proteostasis-imbalance as a novel mechanism that augments the NFκB mediated inflammation in sepsis and ALI. Moreover, our data suggest the therapeutic efficacy of salubrinal in restraining NFκB mediated inflammation in the adult or older subjects.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive lung disease that is punctuated by periods of exacerbations (worsening of symptoms) that are attributable to viral infections. While rhinoviruses are most commonly isolated viruses during episodes of exacerbation, influenza viruses have the potential to become even more problematic with the increased likelihood of an epidemic.
Methodology and Principal Findings
This study examined the impact of current and potential pharmacological targets namely the systemic corticosteroid dexamethasone and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor- gamma agonist pioglitazone on the outcome of infection in smoke-exposed mice. C57BL/6 mice were exposed to room air or cigarette smoke for 4 days and subsequently inoculated with an H1N1 influenza A virus. Interventions were delivered daily during the course of infection. We show that smoke-exposed mice have an exacerbated inflammatory response following infection. While smoke exposure did not compromise viral clearance, precision cut lung slices from smoke-exposed mice showed greater expression of CC (MCP-1, -3), and CXC (KC, MIP-2, GCP-2) chemokines compared to controls when stimulated with a viral mimic or influenza A virus. While dexamethasone treatment partially attenuated the inflammatory response in the broncho-alveolar lavage of smoke-exposed, virally-infected animals, viral-induced neutrophilia was steroid insensitive. In contrast to controls, dexamethasone-treated smoke-exposed influenza-infected mice had a worsened health status. Pioglitazone treatment of virally-infected smoke-exposed mice proved more efficacious than the steroid intervention. Further mechanistic evaluation revealed that a deficiency in CCR2 did not improve the inflammatory outcome in smoke-exposed, virally-infected animals.
Conclusions and Significance
This animal model of cigarette smoke and H1N1 influenza infection demonstrates that smoke-exposed animals are differentially primed to respond to viral insult. While providing a platform to test pharmacological interventions, this model demonstrates that treating viral exacerbations with alternative anti-inflammatory drugs, such as PPAR-gamma agonists should be further explored since they showed greater efficacy than systemic corticosteroids.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a lethal genetic disorder characterized by airway remodeling and inflammation, leading to premature death. Recent evidence suggests the importance of protease activity in CF pathogenesis. One prominent protease, matrix metalloprotease (MMP)-9, demonstrates increased activity in CF individuals undergoing acute pulmonary exacerbation. This is thought to be mediated by both direct MMP-9 activation and the degradation of its natural inhibitor, tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease-1 (TIMP-1). To examine if this relationship exists in nonexacerbating CF individuals, we examined protease activity in sputum from these individuals compared with nondisease controls. We demonstrated increased gelatinolytic activity in CF sputum. These samples had elevated human neutrophil elastase (HNE) levels which correlated with an increased MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio. To determine if HNE could discretely cleave and activate MMP-9, these enzymes were coincubated and two specific cleavage sites, between Valine38 and Alanine39, and between Alanine 39 and glutamic acid40 were observed. These sites corresponded with appropriate molecular weight for the activated MMP-9 isoform in CF sputum. Using N-terminal sequencing of cleavage fragments obtained with TIMP-1 incubation with HNE, we confirmed the TIMP-1 cleavage site for HNE is at Valine69-Cysteine70. We also show for the first time that human neutrophils were capable of degrading TIMP-1 ex vivo and that a 16 kDa TIMP-1 fragment was identified in CF sputum, consistent with the expected cleavage of TIMP-1 by HNE. These results demonstrate increased MMP-9 activity in stable CF lung disease, and the presence of specific protease products in CF sputum highlights that HNE-mediated activity plays a role in this dysregulation.
Ozone, a pollutant known to induce airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), increases morbidity and mortality in patients with obstructive airway diseases and asthma. We postulate oxidized lipids mediate in vivo ozone-induced AHR in murine airways.
Male BALB/c mice were exposed to ozone (3 or 6 ppm) or filtered air (controls) for 2 h. Precision cut lung slices (PCLS; 250 µm thickness) containing an intrapulmonary airway (∼0.01 mm2 lumen area) were prepared immediately after exposure or 16 h later. After 24 h, airways were contracted to carbachol (CCh). Log EC50 and Emax values were then calculated by measuring the airway lumen area with respect to baseline. In parallel studies, dexamethasone (2.5 mg/kg), or 1-aminobenzotriazol (ABT) (50 mg/kg) were given intraperitoneal injection to naïve mice 18 h prior to ozone exposure. Indomethacin (10 mg/kg) was administered 2 h prior. Cell counts, cytokine levels and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) for lipid analysis were assessed in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from ozone exposed and control mice. Ozone acutely induced AHR to CCh. Dexamethasone or indomethacin had little effect on the ozone-induced AHR; while, ABT, a cytochrome P450 inhibitor, markedly attenuated airway sensitivity. BAL fluid from ozone exposed animals, which did not contain an increase in neutrophils or interleukin (IL)-6 levels, increased airway sensitivity following in vitro incubation with a naïve PCLS. In parallel, significant increases in oxidized lipids were also identified using LC-MS with increases of 20-HETE that were decreased following ABT treatment.
These data show that ozone acutely induces AHR to CCh independent of inflammation and is insensitive to steroid treatment or cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition. BAL fluid from ozone exposed mice mimicked the effects of in vivo ozone exposure that were associated with marked increases in oxidized lipids. 20-HETE plays a pivotal role in mediating acute ozone-induced AHR.
Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), an inherited disorder of the NADPH oxidase in which phagocytes are defective in generating superoxide anion and downstream reactive oxidant intermediates (ROIs), is characterized by recurrent bacterial and fungal infections and by excessive inflammation (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease). The mechanisms by which NADPH oxidase regulates inflammation are not well understood.
We found that NADPH oxidase restrains inflammation by modulating redox-sensitive innate immune pathways. When challenged with either intratracheal zymosan or LPS, NADPH oxidase-deficient p47phox−/− mice and gp91phox-deficient mice developed exaggerated and progressive lung inflammation, augmented NF-κB activation, and elevated downstream pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-17, and G-CSF) compared to wildtype mice. Replacement of functional NADPH oxidase in bone marrow-derived cells restored the normal lung inflammatory response. Studies in vivo and in isolated macrophages demonstrated that in the absence of functional NADPH oxidase, zymosan failed to activate Nrf2, a key redox-sensitive anti-inflammatory regulator. The triterpenoid, CDDO-Im, activated Nrf2 independently of NADPH oxidase and reduced zymosan-induced lung inflammation in CGD mice. Consistent with these findings, zymosan-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from X-linked CGD patients showed impaired Nrf2 activity and increased NF-κB activation.
These studies support a model in which NADPH oxidase-dependent, redox-mediated signaling is critical for termination of lung inflammation and suggest new potential therapeutic targets for CGD.
Previous findings support the concept that IL-9 may play a significant role in mediating both pro-inflammatory and changes in airway responsiveness that characterizes the atopic asthmatic state. We previously demonstrated that human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells express a functional IL-9R that mediate CCL11 expression. However, the signaling pathway governing this effect is not well understood.
In this study, we showed that IL-9 mediated CCL11 expression in ASM cells does not rely on STAT6 or STAT5 but on STAT3 pathway. IL-9 induced rapid STAT3 activation in primary ASM cells that was not observed in case of STAT6 or STAT5. STAT3 binding to CCL11 promoter was also observed in vivo upon IL-9 stimulation of ASM cells. Disruption of STAT3 activity with SH2 domain binding inhibitory peptide results in significant reduction of IL-9 mediated CCL11 promoter activity. DN STAT3β over-expression in ASM cells, but not Ser 727 STAT3 or STAT6 DN, abolishes IL-9 mediated CCL11 promoter activity. Finally, STAT3 but not STAT6 silenced ASM cells showed significant reduction in IL-9 mediated CCL11 promoter activity and mRNA expression.
Taken together, our results indicate that IL-9 mediated CCL11 via STAT3 signalling pathway may play a crucial role in airway inflammatory responses.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is chronic lung disease characterized by an unrelenting neutrophil-predominant airway inflammatory response. This inflammation leads to extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and eventually to the development of bronchiectasis. While many components of the immune response in CF have been well-characterized, recent data suggests that small molecules may play an important and underappreciated role in this inflammation. This review will examine two novel molecules: proline-glycine-proline (PGP) and high mobility group box protein-1 (HMGB1), and their potential impact in CF lung disease. This review will provide a brief overview of CF lung disease and background on both HMGB1 and PGP. It will then focus on these molecules in a murine model of CF-like airway disease and in human biological specimens from CF individuals. Finally, this manuscript will address possible mechanisms for therapeutic targeting of these bioactive mediators.
Inflammation; cystic fibrosis; neutrophils; airway; therapeutics.
Although evidence exists that regulatory T cells (Tregs) can suppress the effector phase of immune responses, it is clear that their major role is in suppressing T cell priming in secondary lymphoid organs. Recent experiments using two photon laser microscopy indicate that dendritic cells (DCs) are central to Treg cell function and that the in vivo mechanisms of T cell regulation are more complex than those described in vitro.
Here we have sought to determine whether and how modulation of Treg numbers modifies the lymph node (LN) microenvironment. We found that pro-inflammatory chemokines—CCL2 (MCP-1) and CCL3 (MIP-la)—are secreted in the LN early (24 h) after T cell activation, that this secretion is dependent on antigen-specific DC–T cell interactions, and that it was inversely related to the frequency of Tregs specific for the same antigen. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Tregs modify the chemoattractant properties of antigen-presenting DCs, which, as the frequency of Tregs increases, fail to produce CCL2 and CCL3 and to attract antigen-specific T cells.
These results substantiate a major role of Tregs in LN patterning during antigen-specific immune responses.
The aim of this study was to search for lipid signatures in blood plasma from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients using a novel MALDI-TOF-ClinProTools™ strategy, initially developed for protein analysis, and thin layer chromatography coupled to MALDI-TOF (TLC-MALDI). Samples from 33 CF patients and 18 healthy children were subjected to organic extraction and column chromatography separation of lipid classes. Extracts were analyzed by MALDI-TOF, ion signatures were compared by the ClinProTools™ software and by parallel statistical analyses. Relevant peaks were identified by LC-MSn. The ensemble of analyses provided 11 and 4 peaks differentially displayed in CF vs healthy and in mild vs severe patients respectively. Ten ions were significantly decreased in all patients, corresponding to 4 lysophosphatidylcholine (18∶0, 18∶2, 20∶3, and 20∶5) and 6 phosphatidylcholine (36∶5, O-38∶0, 38∶4, 38∶5, 38∶6, and P-40∶1) species. One sphingolipid, SM(d18∶0), was significantly increased in all patients. Four PC forms (36∶3, 36∶5, 38∶5, and 38∶6) were consistently downregulated in severe vs mild patients. These observations were confirmed by TLC-MALDI. These results suggest that plasma phospholipid signatures may be able to discriminate mild and severe forms of CF, and show for the first time MALDI-TOF-ClinProTools™ as a suitable methodology for the search of lipid markers in CF.