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1.  Cigarette Smoke Attenuates the Nasal Host Response to Streptococcus pneumoniae and Predisposes to Invasive Pneumococcal Disease in Mice 
Infection and Immunity  2016;84(5):1536-1547.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of invasive bacterial infections, with nasal colonization an important first step in disease. While cigarette smoking is a strong risk factor for invasive pneumococcal disease, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. This is partly due to a lack of clinically relevant animal models investigating nasal pneumococcal colonization in the context of cigarette smoke exposure. We present a model of nasal pneumococcal colonization in cigarette smoke-exposed mice and document, for the first time, that cigarette smoke predisposes to invasive pneumococcal infection and mortality in an animal model. Cigarette smoke increased the risk of bacteremia and meningitis without prior lung infection. Mechanistically, deficiency in interleukin 1α (IL-1α) or platelet-activating factor receptor (PAFR), an important host receptor thought to bind and facilitate pneumococcal invasiveness, did not rescue cigarette smoke-exposed mice from invasive pneumococcal disease. Importantly, we observed cigarette smoke to attenuate nasal inflammatory mediator expression, particularly that of neutrophil-recruiting chemokines, normally elicited by pneumococcal colonization. Smoking cessation during nasal pneumococcal colonization rescued nasal neutrophil recruitment and prevented invasive disease in mice. We propose that cigarette smoke predisposes to invasive pneumococcal disease by suppressing inflammatory processes of the upper respiratory tract. Given that smoking prevalence remains high worldwide, these findings are relevant to the continued efforts to reduce the invasive pneumococcal disease burden.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01504-15
PMCID: PMC4862724  PMID: 26930709
2.  IL-1α/IL-1R1 Expression in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Mechanistic Relevance to Smoke-Induced Neutrophilia in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28457.
Background
Cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite this, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to COPD pathogenesis are still poorly understood.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The objective of this study was to assess IL-1 α and β expression in COPD patients and to investigate their respective roles in perpetuating cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. Functional studies were pursued in smoke-exposed mice using gene-deficient animals, as well as blocking antibodies for IL-1α and β. Here, we demonstrate an underappreciated role for IL-1α expression in COPD. While a strong correlation existed between IL-1α and β levels in patients during stable disease and periods of exacerbation, neutrophilic inflammation was shown to be IL-1α-dependent, and IL-1β- and caspase-1-independent in a murine model of cigarette smoke exposure. As IL-1α was predominantly expressed by hematopoietic cells in COPD patients and in mice exposed to cigarette smoke, studies pursued in bone marrow chimeric mice demonstrated that the crosstalk between IL-1α+ hematopoietic cells and the IL-1R1+ epithelial cells regulates smoke-induced inflammation. IL-1α/IL-1R1-dependent activation of the airway epithelium also led to exacerbated inflammatory responses in H1N1 influenza virus infected smoke-exposed mice, a previously reported model of COPD exacerbation.
Conclusions and Significance
This study provides compelling evidence that IL-1α is central to the initiation of smoke-induced neutrophilic inflammation and suggests that IL-1α/IL-1R1 targeted therapies may be relevant for limiting inflammation and exacerbations in COPD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028457
PMCID: PMC3232226  PMID: 22163019
3.  Treating Viral Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Insights from a Mouse Model of Cigarette Smoke and H1N1 Influenza Infection 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13251.
Background
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013251
PMCID: PMC2953496  PMID: 20967263
4.  An Accessory to the ‘Trinity’: SR-As Are Essential Pathogen Sensors of Extracellular dsRNA, Mediating Entry and Leading to Subsequent Type I IFN Responses 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000829.
Extracellular RNA is becoming increasingly recognized as a signaling molecule. Virally derived double stranded (ds)RNA released into the extracellular space during virus induced cell lysis acts as a powerful inducer of classical type I interferon (IFN) responses; however, the receptor that mediates this response has not been identified. Class A scavenger receptors (SR-As) are likely candidates due to their cell surface expression and ability to bind nucleic acids. In this study, we investigated a possible role for SR-As in mediating type I IFN responses induced by extracellular dsRNA in fibroblasts, a predominant producer of IFNβ. Fibroblasts were found to express functional SR-As, even SR-A species thought to be macrophage specific. SR-A specific competitive ligands significantly blocked extracellular dsRNA binding, entry and subsequent interferon stimulated gene (ISG) induction. Candidate SR-As were systematically investigated using RNAi and the most dramatic inhibition in responses was observed when all candidate SR-As were knocked down in unison. Partial inhibition of dsRNA induced antiviral responses was observed in vivo in SR-AI/II-/- mice compared with WT controls. The role of SR-As in mediating extracellular dsRNA entry and subsequent induced antiviral responses was observed in both murine and human fibroblasts. SR-As appear to function as ‘carriers’, facilitating dsRNA entry and delivery to the established dsRNA sensing receptors, specifically TLR3, RIGI and MDA-5. Identifying SR-As as gatekeepers of the cell, mediating innate antiviral responses, represents a novel function for this receptor family and provides insight into how cells recognize danger signals associated with lytic virus infections. Furthermore, the implications of a cell surface receptor capable of recognizing extracellular RNA may exceed beyond viral immunity to mediating other important innate immune functions.
Author Summary
Nearly all viruses produce dsRNA during their replication cycle. This molecule is not normally found in a healthy host cell and thus functions as a flag, alerting the host to a viral infection. Cells can die by lysis during virus infections, and the intracellular dsRNA is then released into the extracellular space. This dsRNA is stable in the extracellular milieu, and is able to function as a signaling molecule, detected by neighboring cells. This has been observed experimentally, as extracellular dsRNA has been used for years to trigger host antiviral responses. It has also been suggested that extracellular dsRNA plays a role in causing pathological symptoms in virus infected patients. Our data suggests that class A scavenger receptors (SR-As) function as cell surface receptors for dsRNA. SR-As bind extracellular, viral dsRNA and mediate its entry into the cell, where it delivers the dsRNA to other known intracellular dsRNA sensors, activating intracellular antiviral responses. These findings shed new light on how the host detects and responds to virus infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000829
PMCID: PMC2847946  PMID: 20360967

Results 1-4 (4)