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1.  Deprived TLR9 Expression in Apparently Healthy Nasal Mucosa Might Trigger Polyp-Growth in Chronic Rhinosinusitis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105618.
The origin of nasal polyps in chronic rhinosinusitis is unknown, but the role of viral infections in polyp growth is clinically well established. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have recently emerged as key players in our local airway defense against microbes. Among these, TLR9 has gained special interest in viral diseases. Many studies on chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) compare polyp tissue with nasal mucosa from polyp-free individuals. Knowledge about changes in the turbinate tissue bordering the polyp tissue is limited.
To analyse the role of TLR9 mediated microbial defense in tissue bordering the polyp.
Nasal polyps and turbinate tissue from 11 patients with CRSwNP and turbinate tissue from 11 healthy controls in total were used. Five biopsies from either group were analysed immediately with flow cytometry regarding receptor expression and 6 biopsies were used for in vitro stimulation with a TLR9 agonist, CpG. Cytokine release was analysed using Luminex. Eight patients with CRSwNP in total were intranasally challenged with CpG/placebo 24 hours before surgery and the biopsies were collected and analysed as above.
TLR9 expression was detected on turbinate epithelial cells from healthy controls and polyp epithelial cells from patients, whereas TLR9 was absent in turbinate epithelial cells from patients. CpG stimulation increased the percentage cells expressing TLR9 and decreased percentage cells expressing VEGFR2 in turbinate tissue from patients. After CpG stimulation the elevated levels of IL-6, G-CSF and MIP-1β in the turbinate tissue from patients were reduced towards the levels demonstrated in healthy controls.
Defects in the TLR9 mediated microbial defense in the mucosa adjacent to the anatomic origin of the polyp might explain virus induced polyp growth. CpG stimulation decreased VEGFR2, suggesting a role for CpG in polyp formation. The focus on turbinate tissue in patients with CRSwNP opens new perspectives in CRSwNP-research.
PMCID: PMC4136868  PMID: 25133733
2.  Toll-Like Receptor Ligands LPS and Poly (I:C) Exacerbate Airway Hyperresponsiveness in a Model of Airway Allergy in Mice, Independently of Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104114.
It is well-established that bacterial and viral infections have an exacerbating effect on allergic asthma, particularly aggravating respiratory symptoms, such as airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The mechanism by which these infections alter AHR is unclear, but some studies suggest that Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a role. In this study, we investigated the impact of TLR3 and TLR4 ligands on AHR and airway inflammation in a model of pre-established allergic inflammation. Female BALB/c mice were sensitised and challenged intranasally (i.n.) with either PBS or ovalbumin (OVA) and subsequently i.n. challenged with poly (I:C) (TLR3) or LPS (TLR4) for four consecutive days. The response to methacholine was measured in vivo; cellular and inflammatory mediators were measured in blood, lung tissue and broncheoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). OVA challenge resulted in an increase in AHR to methacholine, as well as increased airway eosinophilia and TH2 cytokine production. Subsequent challenge with TLR agonists resulted in a significant increase in AHR, but decreased TLR-specific cellular inflammation and production of immune mediators. Particularly evident was a decline in LPS-induced neutrophilia and neutrophil-associated cytokines following LPS and poly (I:C) treatment. The present data indicates that TLRs may play a pivotal role in AHR in response to microbial infection in allergic lung inflammation. These data also demonstrate that aggravated AHR occurs in the absence of an exacerbation in airway inflammation and that allergic inflammation impedes a subsequent inflammatory response to TLRs. These results may parallel clinical signs of microbial asthma exacerbation, including an extended duration of illness and increased respiratory symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4121312  PMID: 25089623
3.  Functional Effects of Toll-Like Receptor (TLR)3, 7, 9, RIG-I and MDA-5 Stimulation in Nasal Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98239.
The human nasal epithelium is an important physical barrier, and a part of the innate immune defense that protect against pathogens. The epithelial cells recognize microbial components by pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs), and thereby trigger an immune response. Even though TLR3, TLR7, TLR9, RIG-I and MDA-5 are all known to respond to viral stimulation, their potential role in chronic airway inflammation triggered by local cytokine release remains to be established.
mRNA and corresponding protein expression of TLR3, TLR7, TLR9, RIG-I and MDA-5 were analyzed in nasal biopsies and various upper airway epithelial cell lines using real-time reverse transcription PCR, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry. Ligand induced, cytokine release, was evaluated with ELISA.
Nasal biopsies were found to express TLR3, TLR7, TLR9, RIG-I and MDA-5, with the most abundant expression in the surface epithelium. These receptors were verified in primary human nasal epithelial cell (HNEC) as well as in the airway epithelial cell lines Detroit-562 and FaDu. Poly(I:C) (TLR3) and R-837 (TLR7) stimulation increased secretion of IL-6 and GM-CSF from the nasal mucosa and the epithelial cell lines. CpG (TLR9) stimulation caused release of IL-8 in the nasal mucosa and in FaDu. Poly(I:C)/LyoVec (RIG-I/MDA-5) stimulation activated the secretion of IFN-β in the nasal mucosa. A corresponding release was also detected from HNEC and Detroit-562.
The nasal epithelium has the ability to recognize viral intrusion through TLR and RLR receptors, and the subsequent response might have a role in exacerbation of inflammatory diseases like allergic rhinitis and chronic rhinosinusitis.
PMCID: PMC4041746  PMID: 24886842
4.  Inverse Immunological Responses Induced by Allergic Rhinitis and Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86796.
Several epidemiological studies have investigated the relation between allergy and cancer with contradicting conclusions, and reports on immunological differences are scarce. By focusing on inflammation, the present study was designed to compare the immune response induced by allergic rhinitis (AR) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Blood and serum was obtained from patients with symptomatic seasonal AR, and newly detected HNSCC, as well as healthy controls. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) were isolated and cultured with or without the toll-like receptor ligands, Pam3CSK4, LPS, R837, and CpG. Cellular activation and cytokine release were assessed with ELISA, Luminex Multiplex Immunoassay, flow cytometry, and real-time RT-PCR. Sera from HNSCC patients showed elevated levels of innate immune cytokines, and exhibited a response profile consistent with an increased innate immune reaction. In contrast, sera and stimulated PBMC from AR patients displayed increased concentrations of T cell related cytokines, consistent with an adaptive immune response. The presented data demonstrate that AR and HNSCC induce two distinct immunological processes, indicating an inverse association between the immunological responses seen in patients with allergy and cancer of the upper airway.
PMCID: PMC3899344  PMID: 24466243
5.  Innate Immune Receptors in Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells: Activation by TLR1/2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR7 and NOD1 Agonists 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68701.
Pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs), including Toll-like receptors (TLRs), NOD-like receptors (NLRs) and RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), recognize microbial components and trigger a host defense response. Respiratory tract infections are common causes of asthma exacerbations, suggesting a role for PRRs in this process. The present study aimed to examine the expression and function of PRRs on human airway smooth muscle cells (HASMCs).
Expression of TLR, NLR and RLR mRNA and proteins was determined using real-time RT-PCR, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry. The functional responses to ligand stimulation were investigated in terms of cytokine and chemokine release, cell surface marker expression, proliferation and proteins regulating the contractile state.
HASMCs expressed functional TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR7 and NOD1. Stimulation with the corresponding agonists Pam3CSK4, poly(I:C), LPS, R-837 and iE-DAP, respectively, induced IL-6, IL-8 and GM-CSF release and up-regulation of ICAM-1 and HLA-DR, while poly(I:C) also affected the release of eotaxin and RANTES. The proliferative response was slightly increased by LPS. Stimulation, most prominently with poly(I:C), down-regulated myosin light chain kinase and cysteinyl leukotriene 1 receptor expression and up-regulated β2-adrenoceptor expression. No effects were seen for agonist to TLR2/6, TLR5, TLR8, TLR9, NOD2 or RIG-I/MDA-5.
Activation of TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR7 and NOD1 favors a synthetic phenotype, characterized by an increased ability to release inflammatory mediators, acquire immunomodulatory properties by recruiting and interacting with other cells, and reduce the contractile state. The PRRs might therefore be of therapeutic use in the management of asthma and infection-induced disease exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3701658  PMID: 23861935
6.  Investigating highly replicated asthma genes as candidate genes for allergic rhinitis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:51.
Asthma genetics has been extensively studied and many genes have been associated with the development or severity of this disease. In contrast, the genetic basis of allergic rhinitis (AR) has not been evaluated as extensively. It is well known that asthma is closely related with AR since a large proportion of individuals with asthma also present symptoms of AR, and patients with AR have a 5–6 fold increased risk of developing asthma. Thus, the relevance of asthma candidate genes as predisposing factors for AR is worth investigating. The present study was designed to investigate if SNPs in highly replicated asthma genes are associated with the occurrence of AR.
A total of 192 SNPs from 21 asthma candidate genes reported to be associated with asthma in 6 or more unrelated studies were genotyped in a Swedish population with 246 AR patients and 431 controls. Genotypes for 429 SNPs from the same set of genes were also extracted from a Singapore Chinese genome-wide dataset which consisted of 456 AR cases and 486 controls. All SNPs were subsequently analyzed for association with AR and their influence on allergic sensitization to common allergens.
A limited number of potential associations were observed and the overall pattern of P-values corresponds well to the expectations in the absence of an effect. However, in the tests of allele effects in the Chinese population the number of significant P-values exceeds the expectations. The strongest signals were found for SNPs in NPSR1 and CTLA4. In these genes, a total of nine SNPs showed P-values <0.001 with corresponding Q-values <0.05. In the NPSR1 gene some P-values were lower than the Bonferroni correction level. Reanalysis after elimination of all patients with asthmatic symptoms excluded asthma as a confounding factor in our results. Weaker indications were found for IL13 and GSTP1 with respect to sensitization to birch pollen in the Swedish population.
Genetic variation in the majority of the highly replicated asthma genes were not associated to AR in our populations which suggest that asthma and AR could have less in common than previously anticipated. However, NPSR1 and CTLA4 can be genetic links between AR and asthma and associations of polymorphisms in NPSR1 with AR have not been reported previously.
PMCID: PMC3653682  PMID: 23663310
Allergic rhinitis; Association; Asthma; Case–control; Replication
7.  Poor Reproducibility of Allergic Rhinitis SNP Associations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53975.
Replication of reported associations is crucial to the investigation of complex disease. More than 100 SNPs have previously been reported as associated with allergic rhinitis (AR), but few of these have been replicated successfully. To investigate the general reproducibility of reported AR-associations in candidate gene studies, one Swedish (352 AR-cases, 709 controls) and one Singapore Chinese population (948 AR-cases, 580 controls) were analyzed using 49 AR-associated SNPs. The overall pattern of P-values indicated that very few of the investigated SNPs were associated with AR. Given published odds ratios (ORs) most SNPs showed high power to detect an association, but no correlations were found between the ORs of the two study populations or with published ORs. None of the association signals were in common to the two genome-wide association studies published in AR, indicating that the associations represent false positives or have much lower effect-sizes than reported.
PMCID: PMC3559641  PMID: 23382861
8.  The Activation Pattern of Blood Leukocytes in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Is Correlated to Survival 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51120.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is known to cause substantial immunosuppression. The present study was designed to characterize blood leukocyte activation in HNSCC and to investigate if the individual activation pattern could be related to tumor progress and survival. The leukocyte activation profile of HNSCC patients and healthy controls was assessed with flow cytometry. HNSCC patients displayed increased numbers of monocytes, neutrophils and total leukocytes as well as an enhanced neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio. In addition, patients had a higher percentage of CD69+, CD71+ and CD98+ T cell subsets and NK cells, and a reduced expression of L-selectin in CD14highCD16+ monocytes and neutrophils, when compared to controls. These changes could be correlated to both tumor burden and spread to lymph nodes. Among the cancer patients an increased neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio, a low neutrophil and CD14high CD16+ monocyte activation state and an elevated CD4/CD8 ratio were related to poor survival. In contrast, a high percentage of CD98+ Th cells appeared to be associated with a better outcome. Taken together, the present data indicate that HNSCC causes activation of blood leukocytes and that the individual activation pattern can be linked to prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3519486  PMID: 23251433
9.  Research needs in allergy: an EAACI position paper, in collaboration with EFA 
Papadopoulos, Nikolaos G | Agache, Ioana | Bavbek, Sevim | Bilo, Beatrice M | Braido, Fulvio | Cardona, Victoria | Custovic, Adnan | deMonchy, Jan | Demoly, Pascal | Eigenmann, Philippe | Gayraud, Jacques | Grattan, Clive | Heffler, Enrico | Hellings, Peter W | Jutel, Marek | Knol, Edward | Lötvall, Jan | Muraro, Antonella | Poulsen, Lars K | Roberts, Graham | Schmid-Grendelmeier, Peter | Skevaki, Chrysanthi | Triggiani, Massimo | vanRee, Ronald | Werfel, Thomas | Flood, Breda | Palkonen, Susanna | Savli, Roberta | Allegri, Pia | Annesi-Maesano, Isabella | Annunziato, Francesco | Antolin-Amerigo, Dario | Apfelbacher, Christian | Blanca, Miguel | Bogacka, Ewa | Bonadonna, Patrizia | Bonini, Matteo | Boyman, Onur | Brockow, Knut | Burney, Peter | Buters, Jeroen | Butiene, Indre | Calderon, Moises | Cardell, Lars Olaf | Caubet, Jean-Christoph | Celenk, Sevcan | Cichocka-Jarosz, Ewa | Cingi, Cemal | Couto, Mariana | deJong, Nicolette | Del Giacco, Stefano | Douladiris, Nikolaos | Fassio, Filippo | Fauquert, Jean-Luc | Fernandez, Javier | Rivas, Montserrat Fernandez | Ferrer, Marta | Flohr, Carsten | Gardner, James | Genuneit, Jon | Gevaert, Philippe | Groblewska, Anna | Hamelmann, Eckard | Hoffmann, Hans Jürgen | Hoffmann-Sommergruber, Karin | Hovhannisyan, Lilit | Hox, Valérie | Jahnsen, Frode L | Kalayci, Ömer | Kalpaklioglu, Ayse Füsun | Kleine-Tebbe, Jörg | Konstantinou, George | Kurowski, Marcin | Lau, Susanne | Lauener, Roger | Lauerma, Antti | Logan, Kirsty | Magnan, Antoine | Makowska, Joanna | Makrinioti, Heidi | Mangina, Paraskevi | Manole, Felicia | Mari, Adriano | Mazon, Angel | Mills, Clare | Mingomataj, ErvinÇ | Niggemann, Bodo | Nilsson, Gunnar | Ollert, Markus | O'Mahony, Liam | O'Neil, Serena | Pala, Gianni | Papi, Alberto | Passalacqua, Gianni | Perkin, Michael | Pfaar, Oliver | Pitsios, Constantinos | Quirce, Santiago | Raap, Ulrike | Raulf-Heimsoth, Monika | Rhyner, Claudio | Robson-Ansley, Paula | Alves, Rodrigo Rodrigues | Roje, Zeljka | Rondon, Carmen | Rudzeviciene, Odilija | Ruëff, Franziska | Rukhadze, Maia | Rumi, Gabriele | Sackesen, Cansin | Santos, Alexandra F | Santucci, Annalisa | Scharf, Christian | Schmidt-Weber, Carsten | Schnyder, Benno | Schwarze, Jürgen | Senna, Gianenrico | Sergejeva, Svetlana | Seys, Sven | Siracusa, Andrea | Skypala, Isabel | Sokolowska, Milena | Spertini, Francois | Spiewak, Radoslaw | Sprikkelman, Aline | Sturm, Gunter | Swoboda, Ines | Terreehorst, Ingrid | Toskala, Elina | Traidl-Hoffmann, Claudia | Venter, Carina | Vlieg-Boerstra, Berber | Whitacker, Paul | Worm, Margitta | Xepapadaki, Paraskevi | Akdis, Cezmi A
In less than half a century, allergy, originally perceived as a rare disease, has become a major public health threat, today affecting the lives of more than 60 million people in Europe, and probably close to one billion worldwide, thereby heavily impacting the budgets of public health systems. More disturbingly, its prevalence and impact are on the rise, a development that has been associated with environmental and lifestyle changes accompanying the continuous process of urbanization and globalization. Therefore, there is an urgent need to prioritize and concert research efforts in the field of allergy, in order to achieve sustainable results on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this most prevalent chronic disease of the 21st century.
The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) is the leading professional organization in the field of allergy, promoting excellence in clinical care, education, training and basic and translational research, all with the ultimate goal of improving the health of allergic patients. The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is a non-profit network of allergy, asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) patients’ organizations. In support of their missions, the present EAACI Position Paper, in collaboration with EFA, highlights the most important research needs in the field of allergy to serve as key recommendations for future research funding at the national and European levels.
Although allergies may involve almost every organ of the body and an array of diverse external factors act as triggers, there are several common themes that need to be prioritized in research efforts. As in many other chronic diseases, effective prevention, curative treatment and accurate, rapid diagnosis represent major unmet needs. Detailed phenotyping/endotyping stands out as widely required in order to arrange or re-categorize clinical syndromes into more coherent, uniform and treatment-responsive groups. Research efforts to unveil the basic pathophysiologic pathways and mechanisms, thus leading to the comprehension and resolution of the pathophysiologic complexity of allergies will allow for the design of novel patient-oriented diagnostic and treatment protocols. Several allergic diseases require well-controlled epidemiological description and surveillance, using disease registries, pharmacoeconomic evaluation, as well as large biobanks. Additionally, there is a need for extensive studies to bring promising new biotechnological innovations, such as biological agents, vaccines of modified allergen molecules and engineered components for allergy diagnosis, closer to clinical practice. Finally, particular attention should be paid to the difficult-to-manage, precarious and costly severe disease forms and/or exacerbations. Nonetheless, currently arising treatments, mainly in the fields of immunotherapy and biologicals, hold great promise for targeted and causal management of allergic conditions. Active involvement of all stakeholders, including Patient Organizations and policy makers are necessary to achieve the aims emphasized herein.
PMCID: PMC3539924  PMID: 23121771
Allergy; Allergic diseases; Policy; Research needs; Research funding; Europe
10.  Toll-like receptor gene polymorphisms are associated with allergic rhinitis: a case control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:66.
The Toll-like receptor proteins are important in host defense and initiation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. A number of studies have identified associations between genetic variation in the Toll-like receptor genes and allergic disorders such as asthma and allergic rhinitis. The present study aim to search for genetic variation associated with allergic rhinitis in the Toll-like receptor genes.
A first association analysis genotyped 73 SNPs in 182 cases and 378 controls from a Swedish population. Based on these results an additional 24 SNPs were analyzed in one Swedish population with 352 cases and 709 controls and one Chinese population with 948 cases and 580 controls.
The first association analysis identified 4 allergic rhinitis-associated SNPs in the TLR7-TLR8 gene region. Subsequent analysis of 24 SNPs from this region identified 7 and 5 significant SNPs from the Swedish and Chinese populations, respectively. The corresponding risk-associated haplotypes are significant after Bonferroni correction and are the most common haplotypes in both populations. The associations are primarily detected in females in the Swedish population, whereas it is seen in males in the Chinese population. Further independent support for the involvement of this region in allergic rhinitis was obtained from quantitative skin prick test data generated in both populations.
Haplotypes in the TLR7-TLR8 gene region were associated with allergic rhinitis in one Swedish and one Chinese population. Since this region has earlier been associated with asthma and allergic rhinitis in a Danish linkage study this speaks strongly in favour of this region being truly involved in the development of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3459792  PMID: 22857391
Allergic rhinitis; Toll-like receptor; Polymorphism; Genetics; Haplotype; Case–control
11.  Intranasal Administration of poly(I:C) and LPS in BALB/c Mice Induces Airway Hyperresponsiveness and Inflammation via Different Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32110.
Bacterial and viral infections are known to promote airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in asthmatic patients. The mechanism behind this reaction is poorly understood, but pattern recognizing Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have recently been suggested to play a role.
Materials and Methods
To explore the relation between infection-induced airway inflammation and the development of AHR, poly(I:C) activating TLR3 and LPS triggering TLR4, were chosen to represent viral and bacterial induced interactions, respectively. Female BALB/c or MyD88-deficient C57BL/6 mice were treated intranasally with either poly(I:C), LPS or PBS (vehicle for the control group), once a day, during 4 consecutive days.
When methacholine challenge was performed on day 5, BALB/c mice responded with an increase in airway resistance. The maximal resistance was higher in the poly(I:C) and LPS treated groups than among the controls, indicating development of AHR in response to repeated TLR activation. The proportion of lymphocytes in broncheoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) increased after poly(I:C) treatment whereas LPS enhanced the amount of neutrophils. A similar cellular pattern was seen in lung tissue. Analysis of 21 inflammatory mediators in BALF revealed that the TLR response was receptor-specific. MyD88-deficient C57BL/6 mice responded to poly (I:C) with an influx of lymphocytes, whereas LPS caused no inflammation.
In vivo activation of TLR3 and TLR4 in BALB/c mice both caused AHR in conjunction with a local inflammatory reaction. The AHR appeared to be identical regardless of which TLR that was activated, whereas the inflammation exhibited a receptor specific profile in terms of both recruited cells and inflammatory mediators. The inflammatory response caused by LPS appeared to be dependent on MyD88 pathway. Altogether the presented data indicate that the development of AHR and the induction of local inflammation might be the result of two parallel events, rather than one leading to another.
PMCID: PMC3280225  PMID: 22355412
12.  Diminished levels of nasal S100A7 (psoriasin) in seasonal allergic rhinitis: an effect mediated by Th2 cytokines 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):2.
S100A7 is an antimicrobial peptide involved in several inflammatory diseases. The aim of the present study was to explore the expression and regulation of S100A7 in seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR).
Nasal lavage (NAL) fluid was obtained from healthy controls before and after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) provocation, from SAR patients before and after allergen challenge, and from SAR patients having completed allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). Nasal biopsies, nasal epithelial cells and blood were acquired from healthy donors. The airway epithelial cell line FaDu was used for in vitro experiments. Real-time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to determine S100A7 expression in nasal tissue and cells. Release of S100A7 in NAL and culture supernatants was measured by ELISA. The function of recombinant S100A7 was explored in epithelial cells, neutrophils and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).
Nasal administration of LPS induced S100A7 release in healthy non-allergic subjects. The level of S100A7 was lower in NAL from SAR patients than from healthy controls, and it was further reduced in the SAR group 6 h post allergen provocation. In contrast, ASIT patients displayed higher levels after completed treatment. S100A7 was expressed in the nasal epithelium and in glands, and it was secreted by cultured epithelial cells. Stimulation with IL-4 and histamine repressed the epithelial S100A7 release. Further, recombinant S100A7 induced activation of neutrophils and PBMC.
The present study shows an epithelial expression and excretion of S100A7 in the nose after microbial stimulation. The levels are diminished in rhinitis patients and in the presence of an allergic cytokine milieu, suggesting that the antimicrobial defense is compromised in patients with SAR.
PMCID: PMC3287248  PMID: 22230654
allergen-specific immunotherapy; antimicrobial peptide; epithelium; lipopolysaccharide; seasonal allergic rhinitis; Th2 cytokines
13.  Nicotine enhances murine airway contractile responses to kinin receptor agonists via activation of JNK- and PDE4-related intracellular pathways 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):13.
Nicotine plays an important role in cigarette-smoke-associated airway disease. The present study was designed to examine if nicotine could induce airway hyperresponsiveness through kinin receptors, and if so, explore the underlying mechanisms involved.
Murine tracheal segments were cultured for 1, 2 or 4 days in serum-free DMEM medium in presence of nicotine (1 and 10 μM) or vehicle (DMSO). Contractile responses induced by kinin B1 receptor agonist, des-Arg9-bradykinin, and B2 receptor agonist, bradykinin, were monitored with myographs. The B1 and B2 receptor mRNA expressions were semi-quantified using real-time PCR and their corresponding protein expressions assessed with confocal-microscopy-based immunohistochemistry. Various pharmacological inhibitors were used for studying intracellular signaling pathways.
Four days of organ culture with nicotine concentration-dependently increased kinin B1 and B2 receptor-mediated airway contractions, without altering the kinin receptor-mediated relaxations. No such increase was seen at day 1 or day 2. The airway contractile responses to 5-HT, acetylcholine and endothelin receptor agonists remained unaffected by nicotine. Two different neuronal nicotinic receptor antagonists MG624 and hexamethonium blocked the nicotine-induced effects. The enhanced contractile responses were accompanied by increased mRNA and protein expression for both kinin receptors, suggesting the involvement of transcriptional mechanisms. Confocal-microscopy-based immunohistochemistry showed that 4 days of nicotine treatment induced activation (phosphorylation) of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) and p38. Inhibition of JNK with its specific inhibitor SP600125 abolished the nicotine-induced effects on kinin receptor-mediated contractions and reverted the enhanced receptor mRNA expression. Administration of phosphodiesterase inhibitors (YM976 and theophylline), glucocorticoid (dexamethasone) or adenylcyclase activator (forskolin) suppressed the nicotine-enhanced airway contractile response to des-Arg9-bradykinin and bradykinin.
Nicotine induces airway hyperresponsiveness via transcriptional up-regulation of airway kinin B1 and B2 receptors, an effect mediated via neuronal nicotinic receptors. The underlying molecular mechanisms involve activation of JNK- and PDE4-mediated intracellular inflammatory signal pathways. Our results might be relevant to active and passive smokers suffering from airway hyperresponsiveness, and suggest new therapeutic targets for the treatment of smoke-associated airway disease.
PMCID: PMC2845563  PMID: 20113502
14.  A module-based analytical strategy to identify novel disease-associated genes shows an inhibitory role for interleukin 7 Receptor in allergic inflammation 
BMC Systems Biology  2009;3:19.
The identification of novel genes by high-throughput studies of complex diseases is complicated by the large number of potential genes. However, since disease-associated genes tend to interact, one solution is to arrange them in modules based on co-expression data and known gene interactions. The hypothesis of this study was that such a module could be a) found and validated in allergic disease and b) used to find and validate one ore more novel disease-associated genes.
To test these hypotheses integrated analysis of a large number of gene expression microarray experiments from different forms of allergy was performed. This led to the identification of an experimentally validated reference gene that was used to construct a module of co-expressed and interacting genes. This module was validated in an independent material, by replicating the expression changes in allergen-challenged CD4+ cells. Moreover, the changes were reversed following treatment with corticosteroids. The module contained several novel disease-associated genes, of which the one with the highest number of interactions with known disease genes, IL7R, was selected for further validation. The expression levels of IL7R in allergen challenged CD4+ cells decreased following challenge but increased after treatment. This suggested an inhibitory role, which was confirmed by functional studies.
We propose that a module-based analytical strategy is generally applicable to find novel genes in complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC2653464  PMID: 19216740
15.  Comprehensive evaluation of genetic variation in S100A7 suggests an association with the occurrence of allergic rhinitis 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):29.
S100A7 is a calcium-binding protein with chemotactic and antimicrobial properties. S100A7 protein levels are decreased in nasal lavage fluid from individuals with ongoing allergic rhinitis, suggesting a role for S100A7 in allergic airway inflammation. The aims of this study were to describe genetic variation in S100A7 and search for associations between this variation and allergic rhinitis.
Peripheral blood was collected from 184 atopic patients with a history of pollen-induced allergic rhinitis and 378 non-atopic individuals, all of Swedish origin. DNA was extracted and the S100A7 gene was resequenced in a subset of 47 randomly selected atopic individuals. Nine polymorphisms were genotyped in 184 atopic and 378 non-atopic individuals and subsequently investigated for associations with allergic rhinitis as well as skin prick test results. Haplotypes were estimated and compared in the two groups.
Thirteen polymorphisms were identified in S100A7, of which 7 were previously undescribed. rs3014837 (G/C), which gives rise to an Asp → Glu amino acid shift, had significantly increased minor allele frequency in atopic individuals. The major haplotype, containing the major allele at all sites, was more common in non-atopic individuals, while the haplotype containing the minor allele at rs3014837 was equally more common among the atopic individuals. Additionally, heterozygotes at this site had significantly higher scores in skin prick tests for 9 out of 11 tested allergens, compared to homozygotes.
This is the first study describing genetic variation, associated with allergy, in S100A7. The results indicate that rs3014837 is linked to allergic rhinitis in our Swedish population and render S100A7 a strong candidate for further investigations regarding its role in allergic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2335106  PMID: 18373864
16.  IL-1β induces murine airway 5-HT2A receptor hyperresponsiveness via a non-transcriptional MAPK-dependent mechanism 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):29.
Interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) is found in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids from asthmatic patients and plays an important role in normal immunoregulatory processes but also in pathophysiological inflammatory responses. The present study was designed to investigate if IL-1β could be involved in the development of airway hyperresponsiveness and if transcriptional mechanisms, epithelium contractile factors and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways are involved in IL-1β effect.
The effect of IL-1β on 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) induced bronchoconstriction was evaluated in an in-vitro model for assessment of long-term effects of inflammatory mediators on the airway smooth muscle. Murine tracheal segments were cultured up to 8 days in the absence or presence of IL-1β with subsequent evaluation in a myograph system, along with mRNA quantification, focusing on the role of the epithelium, acetylcholine release, transcriptional mechanisms and MAPK activity.
During control conditions, 5-HT induced a relatively weak contraction. Presence of IL-1β increased this response in a time- and concentration-dependent way. The increased concentration-effect curves could be shifted rightwards in a parallel manner by ketanserin, a selective 5-HT2A receptor antagonist, indicating that the responses are mediated by 5-HT2A receptors. The mRNA levels of 5-HT2A receptors were not changed as a consequence of the IL-1β treatment and actinomycin D, a general transcriptional inhibitor, failed to affect the contractile response, suggesting a non-transcriptional mechanism behind this phenomenon. Neither the removal of the epithelium nor the addition of atropine affected the IL-1β induced enhancement of 5-HT2A receptor-mediated contractile response. Application of inhibitors for c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) showed that the signaling pathways for JNK and ERK1/2 dominated only in cultured segments (control) whereas JNK and p38 dominated in segments treated with IL-1β.
IL-1β induces murine airway hyperresponsiveness, via a non-transcriptional up-regulation of 5-HT2A receptor-mediated contractile response. The increase of 5-HT contraction is unrelated to epithelial and cholinergic factors, but is dependent on IL-1β-induced changes of MAPK pathways. The fact that IL-1β can alter airway responses to contractile agents such as 5-HT, via alteration of the intracellular MAPK signal transduction pathways, might provide a new concept for future treatment of asthma.
PMCID: PMC1852101  PMID: 17407556
17.  Expression of Toll-like Receptor 9 in nose, peripheral blood and bone marrow during symptomatic allergic rhinitis 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):17.
Allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the upper airway mucosa that also affects leukocytes in bone marrow and peripheral blood. Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is a receptor for unmethylated CpG dinucleotides found in bacterial and viral DNA. The present study was designed to examine the expression of TLR9 in the nasal mucosa and in leukocytes derived from different cellular compartments during symptomatic allergic rhinitis.
The study was based on 32 patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis and 18 healthy subjects, serving as controls. Nasal biopsies were obtained before and after allergen challenge. Bone marrow, peripheral blood and nasal lavage fluid were sampled outside and during pollen season. The expression of TLR9 in tissues and cells was analyzed using immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry, respectively.
TLR9 was found in several cell types in the nasal mucosa and in different leukocyte subpopulations derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood and nasal lavage fluid. The leukocyte expression was generally higher in bone marrow than in peripheral blood, and not affected by symptomatic allergic rhinitis.
The widespread expression of TLR9 in the nasal mucosa along with its rich representation in leukocytes in different compartments, demonstrate the possibility for cells involved in allergic airway inflammation to directly interact with bacterial and viral DNA.
PMCID: PMC1810251  PMID: 17328813
18.  Toll-like receptors in cellular subsets of human tonsil T cells: altered expression during recurrent tonsillitis 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):36.
The palatine tonsils have a pivotal role in immunological detection of airborne and ingested antigens like bacteria and viruses. They have recently been demonstrated to express Toll-like receptors (TLRs), known to recognize molecular structures on such microbes and activate innate immune responses. Their activation might also provide a link between innate and adaptive immunity. In the present study, the expression profile of TLR1-TLR10 was characterized in human tonsil T cells, focusing on differences between subsets of CD4+ T helper (Th) cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). The study was also designed to compare the TLR expression in T cells from patients with recurrent tonsillitis and tonsillar hyperplasia.
Tonsils were obtained from children undergoing tonsillectomy, and classified according to the clinical diagnoses and the outcome of tonsillar core culture tests. Two groups were defined; recurrently infected tonsils and hyperplastic tonsils that served as controls. Subsets of T cells were isolated using magnetic beads. The expression of TLR transcripts in purified cells was assessed using quantitative real-time RT-PCR. The corresponding protein expression was investigated using flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry.
T cells expressed a broad repertoire of TLRs, in which TLR1, TLR2, TLR5, TLR9 and TLR10 predominated. Also, a differential expression of TLRs in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells was obtained. TLR1 and TLR9 mRNA was expressed to a greater extent in CD4+ cells, whereas expression of TLR3 mRNA and protein and TLR4 protein was higher in CD8+ cells. CD8+ cells from infected tonsils expressed higher levels of TLR2, TLR3 and TLR5 compared to control. In contrast, CD4+ cells exhibited a down-regulated TLR9 as a consequence of infection.
The present study demonstrates the presence of a broad repertoire of TLRs in T cells, a differential expression in CD4+ and CD8+ cells, along with infection-dependent alterations in TLR expression. Collectively, these results support the idea that TLRs are of importance to adaptive immune cells. It might be that TLRs have a direct role in adaptive immune reactions against infections. Thus, further functional studies of the relevance of TLR stimulation on T cells will be of importance.
PMCID: PMC1481585  PMID: 16504163
19.  Downregulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) in nasal polyposis 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):132.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) α, βδ and γ are nuclear receptors activated by fatty acid metabolites. An anti-inflammatory role for these receptors in airway inflammation has been suggested.
Nasal biopsies were obtained from 10 healthy volunteers and 10 patients with symptomatic allergic rhinitis. Nasal polyps were obtained from 22 patients, before and after 4 weeks of local steroid treatment (fluticasone). Real-time RT-PCR was used for mRNA quantification and immunohistochemistry for protein localization and quantification.
mRNA expression of PPARα, PPARβδ, PPARγ was found in all specimens. No differences in the expression of PPARs were obtained in nasal biopsies from patients with allergic rhinitis and healthy volunteers. Nasal polyps exhibited lower levels of PPARα and PPARγ than normal nasal mucosa and these levels were, for PPARγ, further reduced following steroid treatment. PPARγ immunoreactivity was detected in the epithelium, but also found in smooth muscle of blood vessels, glandular acini and inflammatory cells. Quantitative evaluation of the epithelial immunostaining revealed no differences between nasal biopsies from patients with allergic rhinitis and healthy volunteers. In polyps, the PPARγ immunoreactivity was lower than in nasal mucosa and further decreased after steroid treatment.
The down-regulation of PPARγ, in nasal polyposis but not in turbinates during symptomatic seasonal rhinitis, suggests that PPARγ might be of importance in long standing inflammations.
PMCID: PMC1298337  PMID: 16271155
20.  Psoriasin, one of several new proteins identified in nasal lavage fluid from allergic and non-allergic individuals using 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):118.
Extravasation and luminal entry of plasma occurs continuously in the nose. This process is markedly facilitated in patients with symptomatic allergic rhinitis, resulting in an increased secretion of proteins. Identification of these proteins is an important step in the understanding of the pathological mechanisms in allergic diseases. DNA microarrays have recently made it possible to compare mRNA profiles of lavage fluids from healthy and diseased patients, whereas information on the protein level is still lacking.
Nasal lavage fluid was collected from 11 patients with symptomatic allergic rhinitis and 11 healthy volunteers. 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis was used to separate proteins in the lavage fluids. Protein spots were picked from the gels and identified using mass spectrometry and database search. Selected proteins were confirmed with western blot.
61 spots were identified, of which 21 were separate proteins. 6 of these proteins (psoriasin, galectin-3, alpha enolase, intersectin-2, Wnt-2B and hypothetical protein MGC33648) had not previously been described in nasal lavage fluids. The levels of psoriasin were markedly down-regulated in allergic individuals. Prolactin-inducible protein was also found to be down-regulated, whereas different fragments of albumin together with Ig gamma 2 chain c region, transthyretin and splice isoform 1 of Wnt-2B were up-regulated among the allergic patients.
The identification of proteins in nasal lavage fluid with 2-dimensional gelelectrophoresis in combination with mass spectrometry is a novel tool to profile protein expression in allergic rhinitis and it might prove useful in the hunt for new therapeutic targets or diagnostic markers for allergic diseases. Psoriasin is a potent chemotactic factor and its down-regulation during inflammation might be of importance for the outcome of the disease.
PMCID: PMC1282590  PMID: 16236163
21.  Up-regulation of Toll-like receptors 2, 3 and 4 in allergic rhinitis 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):100.
Toll-like receptors enable the host to recognize a large number of pathogen-associated molecular patterns such as bacterial lipopolysaccharide, viral RNA, CpG-containing DNA and flagellin. Toll-like receptors have also been shown to play a pivotal role in both innate and adaptive immune responses. The role of Toll-like receptors as a primary part of our microbe defense system has been shown in several studies, but their possible function as mediators in allergy and asthma remains to be established. The present study was designed to examine the expression of Toll-like receptors 2, 3 and 4 in the nasal mucosa of patients with intermittent allergic rhinitis, focusing on changes induced by exposure to pollen.
27 healthy controls and 42 patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis volunteered for the study. Nasal biopsies were obtained before and during pollen season as well as before and after allergen challenge. The seasonal material was used for mRNA quantification of Toll-like receptors 2, 3 and 4 with real-time polymerase chain reaction, whereas specimens achieved in conjunction with allergen challenge were used for immunohistochemical localization and quantification of corresponding proteins.
mRNA and protein representing Toll-like receptors 2, 3 and 4 could be demonstrated in all specimens. An increase in protein expression for all three receptors could be seen following allergen challenge, whereas a significant increase of mRNA only could be obtained for Toll-like receptor 3 during pollen season.
The up-regulation of Toll-like receptors 2, 3 and 4 in the nasal mucosa of patients with symptomatic allergic rhinitis supports the idea of a role for Toll-like receptors in allergic airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC1243240  PMID: 16146574
23.  B Cell Activation by Outer Membrane Vesicles—A Novel Virulence Mechanism 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(1):e1000724.
Secretion of outer membrane vesicles (OMV) is an intriguing phenomenon of Gram-negative bacteria and has been suggested to play a role as virulence factors. The respiratory pathogens Moraxella catarrhalis reside in tonsils adjacent to B cells, and we have previously shown that M. catarrhalis induce a T cell independent B cell response by the immunoglobulin (Ig) D-binding superantigen MID. Here we demonstrate that Moraxella are endocytosed and killed by human tonsillar B cells, whereas OMV have the potential to interact and activate B cells leading to bacterial rescue. The B cell response induced by OMV begins with IgD B cell receptor (BCR) clustering and Ca2+ mobilization followed by BCR internalization. In addition to IgD BCR, TLR9 and TLR2 were found to colocalize in lipid raft motifs after exposure to OMV. Two components of the OMV, i.e., MID and unmethylated CpG-DNA motifs, were found to be critical for B cell activation. OMV containing MID bound to and activated tonsillar CD19+ IgD+ lymphocytes resulting in IL-6 and IgM production in addition to increased surface marker density (HLA-DR, CD45, CD64, and CD86), whereas MID-deficient OMV failed to induce B cell activation. DNA associated with OMV induced full B cell activation by signaling through TLR9. Importantly, this concept was verified in vivo, as OMV equipped with MID and DNA were found in a 9-year old patient suffering from Moraxella sinusitis. In conclusion, Moraxella avoid direct interaction with host B cells by redirecting the adaptive humoral immune response using its superantigen-bearing OMV as decoys.
Author Summary
Outer membrane vesicles secreted by pathogenic bacteria are recognized as a long-distance delivery system which transports diverse virulence factors, and allows pathogens to interact with the host, and hence the possibility to modify the immune response without close contact. Our study shows that Moraxella catarrhalis outer membrane vesicles that also exist in patients can activate human B cells isolated from pharyngeal lymphoid tissue. These findings have significant implications for understanding Moraxella pathogenesis since palatine tonsils are a potential tissue reservoir. Vesicles secreted by Moraxella bind to tonsillar B cells through the superantigen Moraxella IgD-binding protein designated MID. The interaction between MID and the B cell receptor induces Ca2+ mobilization and receptor clustering in lipid raft motifs followed by internalization of vesicles. Mainly Toll-like receptor 9, a pathogen recognition receptor of the innate immune system, participates in the signaling induced by vesicles through sensing of DNA associated with vesicles. The vesicle-dependent B cell activation induces up-regulation of surface activation markers in addition to IL-6 and IgM secretion. Vesicle secretion provides Moraxella with a sophisticated mechanism to modify the host immune response, avoiding contact between bacteria and the host.
PMCID: PMC2799554  PMID: 20090836

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