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2.  Controlled and uncontrolled asthma display distinct alveolar tissue matrix compositions 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):67.
Whether distal inflammation in asthmatics also leads to structural changes in the alveolar parenchyma remains poorly examined, especially in patients with uncontrolled asthma. We hypothesized that patients who do not respond to conventional inhaled corticosteroid therapy have a distinct tissue composition, not only in central, but also in distal lung.
Bronchial and transbronchial biopsies from healthy controls, patients with controlled atopic and patients with uncontrolled atopic asthma were processed for immunohistochemical analysis of fibroblasts and extracellular matrix molecules: collagen, versican, biglycan, decorin, fibronectin, EDA-fibronectin, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and tissue-inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase (TIMP)-3.
In central airways we found increased percentage areas of versican and decorin in patients with uncontrolled asthma compared to both healthy controls and patients with controlled asthma. Percentage area of biglycan was significantly higher in both central airways and alveolar parenchyma of patients with uncontrolled compared to controlled asthma. Ratios of MMP-9/TIMP-3 were decreased in both uncontrolled and controlled asthma compared to healthy controls. In the alveolar parenchyma, patients with uncontrolled asthma had increased percentage areas of collagen, versican and decorin compared to patients with controlled asthma. Patients with uncontrolled asthma had significantly higher numbers of myofibroblasts in both central airways and alveolar parenchyma compared to patients with controlled asthma.
Tissue composition differs, in both central and distal airways, between patients with uncontrolled and controlled asthma on equivalent doses of ICS. This altered structure and possible change in tissue elasticity may lead to abnormal mechanical properties, which could be a factor in the persistent symptoms for patients with uncontrolled asthma.
PMCID: PMC4089934  PMID: 24950767
Asthma; Controlled; Uncontrolled; ICS; Remodeling; Alveolar parenchyma; Extracellular matrix; Myofibroblasts
3.  Relation Between Ljungan Virus Antibodies, HLA-DQ8, and Insulin Autoantibodies in Newly Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes Children 
Viral Immunology  2013;26(3):207-215.
Environmental factors, including viral infections, may explain an increasing and fluctuating incidence of childhood type 1 diabetes (T1D). Ljungan virus (LV) isolated from bank voles have been implicated, but it is unclear whether LV contributes to islet autoimmunity, progression to clinical onset, or both, of T1D. The aim was to test whether LV antibodies (LVAb) were related to HLA-DQ and islet autoantibodies in newly diagnosed T1D patients (n=676) and controls (n=309). Patients, 0–18 years of age, diagnosed with T1D in 1996–2005 were analyzed for LVAb, HLA-DQ genotypes, and all seven known islet autoantibodies (GADA, IA-2A, IAA, ICA, ZnT8RA, ZnT8WA, and ZnT8QA).
LVAb at 75th percentile, defined as cut off, was 90 (range 6–3936) U/mL and 4th quartile LVAb were found in 25% (170/676) of which 64% were <10 (n=108, p<0.0001), and 27% were<5 (n=45; p<0.0001) years old. The 4th quartile LVAb in children <10 years of age correlated to HLA DQ2/8, 8/8, and 8/X (p<0.0001). Furthermore, in the group with 4th quartile LVAb, 55% were IAA positive (p=0.01) and correlation was found between 4th quartile LVAb and IAA in children <10 years of age (p=0.035).
It is concluded that 1) LVAb were common among the young T1D patients and LVAb levels were higher in the younger age groups; 2) 4th quartile LVAb correlated with IAA; and 3) there was a correlation between 4th quartile LVAb and HLA-DQ8, particularly in the young patients. The presence of LVAb supports the notion that prior exposure to LV may be associated with T1D.
PMCID: PMC3676654  PMID: 23682738
4.  Midkine Is Expressed and Differentially Processed during Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbations and Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia Associated with Staphylococcus aureus Infection 
Molecular Medicine  2013;19(1):314-323.
Staphylococcus aureus is sometimes isolated from the airways during acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but more commonly recognized as a cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Antimicrobial proteins, among them midkine (MK), are an important part of innate immunity in the airways. In this study, the levels and possible processing of MK in relation to S. aureus infection of the airways were investigated, comparing COPD and VAP, thus comparing a state of disease with preceding chronic inflammation and remodeling (COPD) with acute inflammation (that is, VAP). MK was detected in the small airways and alveoli of COPD lung tissue but less so in normal lung tissue. MK at below micromolar concentrations killed S. aureus in vitro. Proteolytic processing of MK by the staphylococcal metalloprotease aureolysin (AL), but not cysteine protease staphopain A (SA), resulted in impaired bactericidal activity. Degradation was seen foremost in the COOH-terminal portion of the molecule that harbors high bactericidal activity. In addition, MK was detected in sputum from patients suffering from VAP caused by S. aureus but less so in sputum from COPD exacerbations associated with the same bacterium. Recombinant MK was degraded more rapidly in sputum from the COPD patients than from the VAP patients and a greater proteolytic activity in COPD sputum was confirmed by zymography. Taken together, proteases of both bacteria and the host contribute to degradation of the antibacterial protein MK, resulting in an impaired defense of the airways, in particular, in COPD where the state of chronic inflammation could be of importance.
PMCID: PMC4344460  PMID: 24043271
5.  Increased number and altered phenotype of lymphatic vessels in peripheral lung compartments of patients with COPD 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):65.
De novo lymphatic vessel formation has recently been observed in lungs of patients with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the distribution of lymphatic vessel changes among the anatomical compartments of diseased lungs is unknown. Furthermore, information regarding the nature of lymphatic vessel alterations across different stages of COPD is missing. This study performs a detailed morphometric characterization of lymphatic vessels in major peripheral lung compartments of patients with different severities of COPD and investigates the lymphatic expression of molecules involved in immune cell trafficking.
Peripheral lung resection samples obtained from patients with mild (GOLD stage I), moderate-severe (GOLD stage II-III), and very severe (GOLD stage IV) COPD were investigated for podoplanin-immunopositive lymphatic vessels in distinct peripheral lung compartments: bronchioles, pulmonary blood vessels and alveolar walls. Control subjects with normal lung function were divided into never smokers and smokers. Lymphatics were analysed by multiple morphological parameters, as well as for their expression of CCL21 and the chemokine scavenger receptor D6.
The number of lymphatics increased by 133% in the alveolar parenchyma in patients with advanced COPD compared with never-smoking controls (p < 0.05). In patchy fibrotic lesions the number of alveolar lymphatics increased 20-fold from non-fibrotic parenchyma in the same COPD patients. The absolute number of lymphatics per bronchiole and artery was increased in advanced COPD, but numbers were not different after normalization to tissue area. Increased numbers of CCL21- and D6-positive lymphatics were observed in the alveolar parenchyma in advanced COPD compared with controls (p < 0.01). Lymphatic vessels also displayed increased mean levels of immunoreactivity for CCL21 in the wall of bronchioles (p < 0.01) and bronchiole-associated arteries (p < 0.05), as well as the alveolar parenchyma (p < 0.001) in patients with advanced COPD compared with never-smoking controls. A similar increase in lymphatic D6 immunoreactivity was observed in bronchioles (p < 0.05) and alveolar parenchyma (p < 0.01).
This study shows that severe stages of COPD is associated with increased numbers of alveolar lymphatic vessels and a change in lymphatic vessel phenotype in major peripheral lung compartments. This novel histopathological feature is suggested to have important implications for distal lung immune cell traffic in advanced COPD.
PMCID: PMC3728038  PMID: 23758732
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Alveolar; Lymphatic vessel; CCL21; D6; Immunohistochemistry; Inflammation
6.  IL-9 Governs Allergen-induced Mast Cell Numbers in the Lung and Chronic Remodeling of the Airways 
IL-9 is a pleiotropic cytokine that has multiple effects on structural as well as numerous hematopoietic cells, which are central to the pathogenesis of asthma.
The contribution of IL-9 to asthma pathogenesis has thus far been unclear, due to conflicting reports in the literature. These earlier studies focused on the role of IL-9 in acute inflammatory models; here we have investigated the effects of IL-9 blockade during chronic allergic inflammation.
Mice were exposed to either prolonged ovalbumin or house dust mite allergen challenge to induce chronic inflammation and airway remodeling.
Measurements and Main Results
We found that IL-9 governs allergen-induced mast cell (MC) numbers in the lung and has pronounced effects on chronic allergic inflammation. Anti–IL-9 antibody–treated mice were protected from airway remodeling with a concomitant reduction in mature MC numbers and activation, in addition to decreased expression of the profibrotic mediators transforming growth factor-β1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor-2 in the lung. Airway remodeling was associated with impaired lung function in the peripheral airways and this was reversed by IL-9 neutralization. In human asthmatic lung tissue, we identified MCs as the main IL-9 receptor expressing population and found them to be sources of vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2.
Our data suggest an important role for an IL-9-MC axis in the pathology associated with chronic asthma and demonstrate that an impact on this axis could lead to a reduction in chronic inflammation and improved lung function in patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC3385369  PMID: 20971830
IL-9; mast cells; asthma; airway remodeling; AHR
7.  Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Activates Endothelial Cells ▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(15):7766-7774.
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) causes viral hemorrhagic fever with high case-fatality rates and is geographically widely distributed. Due to the requirement for a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory and the lack of an animal model, knowledge of the viral pathogenesis is limited. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is characterized by hemorrhage and vascular permeability, indicating the involvement of endothelial cells (ECs). The interplay between ECs and CCHFV is therefore important for understanding the pathogenesis of CCHF. In a previous study, we found that CCHFV-infected monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) activated ECs; however, the direct effect of CCHFV on ECs was not investigated. Here, we report that ECs are activated upon infection, as demonstrated by upregulation of mRNA levels for E-selectin, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM1), and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1). Protein levels and cell surface expression of ICAM1 responded in a dose-dependent manner to increasing CCHFV titers with concomitant increase in leukocyte adhesion. Furthermore, we examined vascular endothelial (VE) cadherin in CCHFV-infected ECs by different approaches. Infected ECs released higher levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) and IL-8; however, stimulation of resting ECs with supernatants derived from infected ECs did not result in increased ICAM1 expression. Interestingly, the moDC-mediated activation of ECs was abrogated by addition of neutralizing tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) antibody to moDC supernatants, thereby identifying this soluble mediator as the key cytokine causing EC activation. We conclude that CCHFV can exert both direct and indirect effects on ECs.
PMCID: PMC3147921  PMID: 21632768
8.  Activated MCTC mast cells infiltrate diseased lung areas in cystic fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):139.
Although mast cells are regarded as important regulators of inflammation and tissue remodelling, their role in cystic fibrosis (CF) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) has remained less studied. This study investigates the densities and phenotypes of mast cell populations in multiple lung compartments from patients with CF, IPF and never smoking controls.
Small airways, pulmonary vessels, and lung parenchyma were subjected to detailed immunohistochemical analyses using lungs from patients with CF (20 lung regions; 5 patients), IPF (21 regions; 7 patients) and controls (16 regions; 8 subjects). In each compartment the densities and distribution of MCT and MCTC mast cell populations were studied as well as the mast cell expression of IL-6 and TGF-β.
In the alveolar parenchyma in lungs from patients with CF, MCTC numbers increased in areas showing cellular inflammation or fibrosis compared to controls. Apart from an altered balance between MCTC and MCT cells, mast cell in CF lungs showed elevated expression of IL-6. In CF, a decrease in total mast cell numbers was observed in small airways and pulmonary vessels. In patients with IPF, a significantly elevated MCTC density was present in fibrotic areas of the alveolar parenchyma with increased mast cell expression of TGF-β. The total mast cell density was unchanged in small airways and decreased in pulmonary vessels in IPF. Both the density, as well as the percentage, of MCTC correlated positively with the degree of fibrosis. The increased density of MCTC, as well as MCTC expression of TGF-β, correlated negatively with patient lung function.
The present study reveals that altered mast cell populations, with increased numbers of MCTC in diseased alveolar parenchyma, represents a significant component of the histopathology in CF and IPF. The mast cell alterations correlated to the degree of tissue remodelling and to lung function parameters. Further investigations of mast cells in these diseases may open for new therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3209449  PMID: 22014187
mast cell; connective tissue mast cell; cystic fibrosis; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; alveolar parenchyma; remodelling; fibrosis

Results 1-8 (8)