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1.  Adam8 Limits the Development of Allergic Airway Inflammation in Mice 
To determine whether a disintegrin and a metalloproteinase-8 (Adam8) regulates allergic airway inflammation (AAI) and airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), we compared AAI and AHR in wild type (WT) versus Adam8−/− mice in different genetic backgrounds sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) or house dust mite protein extract (HDM). OVA- and HDM-treated Adam8−/− mice had higher lung leukocyte counts, more airway mucus metaplasia, greater lung levels of some TH2 cytokines, and higher methacholine-induced increases in central airway resistance than allergen-treated WT mice. Studies of OVA-treated Adam8 bone marrow chimeric mice confirmed that leukocyte-derived Adam8 predominantly mediated Adam8’s anti-inflammatory activities in murine airways. Airway eosinophils and macrophages both expressed Adam8 in WT mice with AAI. Adam8 limited AAI and AHR in mice by reducing leukocyte survival because: 1) Adam8−/− mice with AAI had fewer apoptotic eosinophils and macrophages in their airways than WT mice with AAI; and 2) Adam8−/− macrophages and eosinophils had reduced rates of apoptosis compared with WT leukocytes when the intrinsic (but not the extrinsic) apoptosis pathway was triggered in the cells in vitro. ADAM8 was robustly expressed by airway granulocytes in lung sections from human asthma patients but, surprisingly, airway macrophages had less ADAM8 staining than airway eosinophils. Thus, ADAM8 has anti-inflammatory activities during AAI in mice by activating the intrinsic apoptosis pathway in myeloid leukocytes. Strategies that increase ADAM8 levels in myeloid leukocytes may have therapeutic efficacy in asthma.
PMCID: PMC3679335  PMID: 23670189
2.  Mononuclear Phagocytes and Airway Epithelial Cells: Novel Sources of Matrix Metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8) in Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97485.
Matrix metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8) promotes lung fibrotic responses to bleomycin in mice. Although prior studies reported that MMP-8 levels are increased in plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples from IPF patients, neither the bioactive forms nor the cellular sources of MMP-8 in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients have been identified. It is not known whether MMP-8 expression is dys-regulated in IPF leukocytes or whether MMP-8 plasma levels correlate with IPF outcomes. Our goal was to address these knowledge gaps.
We measured MMP-8 levels and forms in blood and lung samples from IPF patients versus controls using ELISAs, western blotting, and qPCR, and assessed whether MMP-8 plasma levels in 73 IPF patients correlate with rate of lung function decline and mortality. We used immunostaining to localize MMP-8 expression in IPF lungs. We quantified MMP-8 levels and forms in blood leukocytes from IPF patients versus controls.
IPF patients have increased BALF, whole lung, and plasma levels of soluble MMP-8 protein. Active MMP-8 is the main form elevated in IPF lungs. MMP-8 mRNA levels are increased in monocytes from IPF patients, but IPF patients and controls have similar levels of MMP-8 in PMNs. Surprisingly, macrophages and airway epithelial cells are the main cells expressing MMP-8 in IPF lungs. Plasma and BALF MMP-8 levels do not correlate with decline in lung function and/or mortality in IPF patients.
Blood and lung MMP-8 levels are increased in IPF patients. Active MMP-8 is the main form elevated in IPF lungs. Surprisingly, blood monocytes, lung macrophages, and airway epithelial cells are the main cells in which MMP-8 is upregulated in IPF patients. Plasma and BALF MMP-8 levels are unlikely to serve as a prognostic biomarker for IPF patients. These results provide new information about the expression patterns of MMP-8 in IPF patients.
PMCID: PMC4020836  PMID: 24828408
3.  Increased methylation of lung cancer-associated genes in sputum DNA of former smokers with chronic mucous hypersecretion 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):2.
Chronic mucous hypersecretion (CMH) contributes to COPD exacerbations and increased risk for lung cancer. Because methylation of gene promoters in sputum has been shown to be associated with lung cancer risk, we tested whether such methylation was more common in persons with CMH.
Eleven genes commonly silenced by promoter methylation in lung cancer and associated with cancer risk were selected. Methylation specific PCR (MSP) was used to profile the sputum of 900 individuals in the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (LSC). Replication was performed in 490 individuals from the Pittsburgh Lung Screening Study (PLuSS).
CMH was significantly associated with an overall increased number of methylated genes, with SULF2 methylation demonstrating the most consistent association. The association between SULF2 methylation and CMH was significantly increased in males but not in females both in the LSC and PLuSS (OR = 2.72, 95% CI = 1.51-4.91, p = 0.001 and OR = 2.97, 95% CI = 1.48-5.95, p = 0.002, respectively). Further, the association between methylation and CMH was more pronounced among 139 male former smokers with persistent CMH compared to current smokers (SULF2; OR = 3.65, 95% CI = 1.59-8.37, p = 0.002).
These findings demonstrate that especially male former smokers with persistent CMH have markedly increased promoter methylation of lung cancer risk genes and potentially could be at increased risk for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3893562  PMID: 24405663
Methylation of gene promoters; Persistent cough and phlegm; Sputum DNA; Former smoker; Lung cancer genes
4.  Acute Inflammation Induces Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 to Mediate Bcl-2 and Muc5ac Expression in Airway Epithelial Cells 
Generally, exposure to LPS in human airways occurs in the form of aerosols and causes an acute inflammatory response or exacerbates existing chronic inflammatory conditions by enhancing airway remodeling and associated pathologies. The present study evaluated which inflammatory mediators may be responsible for the expression of Bcl-2 and mucus cell metaplasia when mice are exposed to aerosolized LPS. At 3 days after exposure, aerosolized LPS (for 20–40 min) with the estimated lung deposited dosage of 0, 0.02, 0.2, 1.4, and 20.2 μg showed a characteristic dose-dependent increase in polymorphonuclear neutrophils. Significant increases of proinflammatory mediators, including IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, growth-related oncogene or keratinocyte-derived cytokine, IFN-γ–induced protein-10, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, were detected at the highest doses. In addition to increased numbers of airway epithelial cells, mucus cell numbers and mucus production were increased in a dose-dependent manner. Hyperplastic epithelial cells expressed insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and, similar to previous studies, increased expression of the prosurvival protein Bcl-2 and induced expression of Muc5ac. Suppression of IGF-1 expression using retroviral shRNA blocked Bcl-2 expression in human and murine airway epithelial cells and Muc5ac in primary murine airway epithelial cells. These findings show that acute inflammation induces IGF-1 to mediate Bcl-2 and Muc5ac expression in airway epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3547092  PMID: 22878411
LPS aerosol; mucus cell metaplasia; cell death; retroviral shRNA; cytokines
5.  Histone deacetylase 6–mediated selective autophagy regulates COPD-associated cilia dysfunction 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(12):5212-5230.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involves aberrant airway inflammatory responses to cigarette smoke (CS) that are associated with epithelial cell dysfunction, cilia shortening, and mucociliary clearance disruption. Exposure to CS reduced cilia length and induced autophagy in vivo and in differentiated mouse tracheal epithelial cells (MTECs). Autophagy-impaired (Becn1+/– or Map1lc3B–/–) mice and MTECs resisted CS-induced cilia shortening. Furthermore, CS increased the autophagic turnover of ciliary proteins, indicating that autophagy may regulate cilia homeostasis. We identified cytosolic deacetylase HDAC6 as a critical regulator of autophagy-mediated cilia shortening during CS exposure. Mice bearing an X chromosome deletion of Hdac6 (Hdac6–/Y) and MTECs from these mice had reduced autophagy and were protected from CS-induced cilia shortening. Autophagy-impaired Becn1–/–, Map1lc3B–/–, and Hdac6–/Y mice or mice injected with an HDAC6 inhibitor were protected from CS-induced mucociliary clearance (MCC) disruption. MCC was preserved in mice given the chemical chaperone 4-phenylbutyric acid, but was disrupted in mice lacking the transcription factor NRF2, suggesting that oxidative stress and altered proteostasis contribute to the disruption of MCC. Analysis of human COPD specimens revealed epigenetic deregulation of HDAC6 by hypomethylation and increased protein expression in the airways. We conclude that an autophagy-dependent pathway regulates cilia length during CS exposure and has potential as a therapeutic target for COPD.
PMCID: PMC3859407  PMID: 24200693
6.  Deacetylation of p53 induces autophagy by suppressing Bmf expression 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;201(3):427-437.
IFN-γ induces the interaction of HDAC1 and p53, leading to p53 deacetylation, which facilitates autophagy via Bmf suppression.
Interferon γ (IFN-γ)–induced cell death is mediated by the BH3-only domain protein, Bik, in a p53-independent manner. However, the effect of IFN-γ on p53 and how this affects autophagy have not been reported. The present study demonstrates that IFN-γ down-regulated expression of the BH3 domain-only protein, Bmf, in human and mouse airway epithelial cells in a p53-dependent manner. p53 also suppressed Bmf expression in response to other cell death–stimulating agents, including ultraviolet radiation and histone deacetylase inhibitors. IFN-γ did not affect Bmf messenger RNA half-life but increased nuclear p53 levels and the interaction of p53 with the Bmf promoter. IFN-γ–induced interaction of HDAC1 and p53 resulted in the deacetylation of p53 and suppression of Bmf expression independent of p53’s proline-rich domain. Suppression of Bmf facilitated IFN-γ–induced autophagy by reducing the interaction of Beclin-1 and Bcl-2. Furthermore, autophagy was prominent in cultured bmf−/− but not in bmf+/+ cells. Collectively, these observations show that deacetylation of p53 suppresses Bmf expression and facilitates autophagy.
PMCID: PMC3639396  PMID: 23629966
7.  BH3-only proteins, Bmf and Bim, in autophagy 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(22):3453-3454.
PMCID: PMC3906325  PMID: 24107625
Bcl-2 family of proteins; dynein light chain; myosin; actin filaments; survival; airway epithelial cell death; autophagosome formation; lysosomal degradation
8.  Intracellular Insulin-like Growth Factor-I Induces Bcl-2 Expression in Airway Epithelial Cells 1 
Bcl-2, a prosurvival protein, regulates programmed cell death during development and repair processes, and can be oncogenic when cell proliferation is deregulated. The present study investigated what factors modulate Bcl-2 expression in airway epithelial cells and identified the pathways involved. Microarray analysis of mRNA from airway epithelial cells captured by laser microdissection showed that increased expression of IL-1β and IGF-1 coincided with induced Bcl-2 expression compared to controls. Treatment of cultured airway epithelial cells with IL-1β and IGF-1 induced Bcl-2 expression by increasing Bcl-2 mRNA stability with no discernible changes in promoter activity. Silencing the IGF-1 expression using shRNA showed that intracellular (IC)-IGF-1 was increasing Bcl-2 expression. Blocking EGFR or IGF-1R activation also suppressed IC-IGF-1, and abolished the Bcl-2 induction. Induced expression and co-localization of IC-IGF-1 and Bcl-2 were observed in airway epithelial cells of mice exposed to LPS or cigarette smoke and of patients with cystic fibrosis and chronic bronchitis but not in the respective controls. These studies demonstrate that IC-IGF-1 induces Bcl-2 expression in epithelial cells via IGF-1R and EGFR pathways, and targeting IC-IGF-1 could be beneficial to treat chronic airway diseases.
PMCID: PMC3359962  PMID: 22461702
9.  Difference in airflow obstruction between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white female smokers 
COPD  2008;5(5):274-281.
Smoking-related respiratory diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. However, the relationship between smoking and respiratory disease has not been well-studied among ethnic minorities in general and among women in particular.
The objective of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the risk of airflow obstruction and to assess lung function among Hispanic and non-Hispanic white (NHW) female smokers in a New Mexico cohort.
Participants completed a questionnaire detailing smoking history and underwent spirometry testing. Outcomes studied included airflow obstruction, selected lung function parameters, and chronic mucus hyper-secretion. Chi square, logistic, and linear regression techniques were utilized.
Main findings
Of the 1,433 eligible women participants, 248 (17.3%) were Hispanic; and 319 had airflow obstruction (22.3%). Hispanic smokers were more likely to be current smokers, and report lower pack-years of smoking, compared to NHW smokers (p < 0.05 for all analyses). Further, Hispanic smokers were at a reduced risk of airflow obstruction compared to NHW smokers, with an O.R. of 0.51, 95% C.I. 0.34, 0.78 (p = 0.002) after adjustment for age, BMI, pack-years and duration of smoking, and current smoking status. Following adjustment for covariates, Hispanic smokers also had a higher mean absolute and percent predicted post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio, as well as higher mean percent predicted FEV1 (p < 0.05 for all analyses).
Principal conclusions
Hispanic female smokers in this New Mexico-based cohort had lower risk of airflow obstruction and better lung function than NHW female smokers. Further, smoking history did not completely explain these associations.
PMCID: PMC3616889  PMID: 18972275
Hispanic ethnicity; Smokers; Airflow obstruction; Pulmonary function; Chronic mucus hyper-secretion; Women
10.  Genetic Determinants for Promoter Hypermethylation in the Lungs of Smokers: A Candidate Gene-Based Study 
Cancer Research  2011;72(3):707-715.
The detection of tumor suppressor gene promoter methylation in sputum-derived exfoliated cells predicts early lung cancer. Here we identified genetic determinants for this epigenetic process and examined their biological effects on gene regulation. A two-stage approach involving discovery and replication was employed to assess the association between promoter hypermethylation of a 12-gene panel and common variation in 40 genes involved in carcinogen metabolism, regulation of methylation, and DNA damage response in members of the Lovelace Smokers Cohort (n=1434). Molecular validation of three identified variants was conducted using primary bronchial epithelial cells. Association of study-wide significance (P<8.2×10−5) was identified for rs1641511, rs3730859, and rs1883264 in TP53, LIG1, and BIK, respectively. These SNPs were significantly associated with altered expression of the corresponding genes in primary bronchial epithelial cells. In addition, rs3730859 in LIG1 was also moderately associated with increased risk for lung cancer among Caucasian smokers. Together, our findings suggest that genetic variation in DNA replication and apoptosis pathways impacts the propensity for gene promoter hypermethylation in the aerodigestive tract of smokers. The incorporation of genetic biomarkers for gene promoter hypermethylation with clinical and somatic markers may improve risk assessment models for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3271143  PMID: 22139380
DNA damage response; promoter hypermethylation; single nucleotide polymorphism; sputum; smoker
11.  Softwares and methods for estimating genetic ancestry in human populations 
Human Genomics  2013;7(1):1.
The estimation of genetic ancestry in human populations has important applications in medical genetic studies. Genetic ancestry is used to control for population stratification in genetic association studies, and is used to understand the genetic basis for ethnic differences in disease susceptibility. In this review, we present an overview of genetic ancestry estimation in human disease studies, followed by a review of popular softwares and methods used for this estimation.
PMCID: PMC3542037  PMID: 23289408
Ancestry; Genetic; Polymorphism; Structure
12.  New Mexican Hispanic Smokers Have Lower Odds of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Less Decline in Lung Function Than Non-Hispanic Whites 
Rationale: The epidemiology of cigarette smoking–related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not well characterized in Hispanics in the United States. Understanding how ethnicity influences COPD is important for a number of reasons, from informing public health policies to dissecting the genetic and environmental effects that contribute to disease.
Objectives: The present study assessed differences in risk between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites for longitudinal and cross-sectional COPD phenotypes. Genetic ancestry was used to verify findings based on self-reported ethnicity. Hispanics in New Mexico are primarily differentiated from non-Hispanic whites by their proportion of Native American ancestry.
Methods: The study was performed in a New Mexican cohort of current and former smokers. Self-reported Hispanic and non-Hispanic white ethnicity was validated by defining genetic ancestry proportions at the individual level using 48 single-nucleotide polymorphism markers. Self-reported ethnicity and genetic ancestry were independently used to assess associations with cross-sectional and longitudinal measures of lung function. Multivariable models were adjusted for indicators of smoking behavior.
Measurements and Main Results: Self-reported Hispanic ethnicity was significantly associated with lower odds of COPD (odds ratio, 0.49; 95% confidence interval, 0.35–0.71; P = 0.007), and this protection was validated by the observation that Hispanic smokers have reduced risk of rapid decline in lung function (odds ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, 0.30–0.78; P = 0.003). Similar findings were noted when Native American genetic ancestry proportions were used as predictors instead of self-report of Hispanic ethnicity.
Conclusions: Hispanic ethnicity is inversely associated with cross-sectional and longitudinal spirometric COPD phenotypes even after adjustment for smoking. Native American genetic ancestry may account for this “Hispanic protection.”
PMCID: PMC3262041  PMID: 21908412
13.  Inflammation, Mucous Cell Metaplasia, and Bcl-2 Expression in Response to Inhaled Lipopolysaccharide Aerosol and Effect of Rolipram 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2011;253(3):253-260.
Our previous studies have characterized the inflammatory response of intratracheally instilled lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in F344/N rats. To better reflect the environmentally relevant form of LPS exposure, the present study evaluated the inflammatory response of F344/N rats exposed to LPS by inhalation. Rats were exposed by nose-only inhalation to aerosolized LPS at a median particle diameter of 1 μm and a dose range from 0.08 to 480 μg. Animals were sacrificed 72 h post exposure and the inflammatory cell counts and differentials, the cytokine/chemokine levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and the changes in intraepithelial stored mucosubstances, mucous cells per mm basal lamina, and Bcl-2-positive mucous cells were quantified. We observed a dose-dependent increase reaching maximum values at the 75μg LPS dose for the numbers of neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes, for the levels of IL-6, IL-1α, IL-1β, TNFα, MCP-1 and GRO-KC. In addition, mucous cell metaplasia and the percentage of Bcl-2-positive mucous cells were increased with increasing deposited LPS dose. When rats were treated with the phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) inhibitor, rolipram (10 mg/kg), prior to exposure to aerosolized LPS neutrophil numbers in the BAL were reduced at 8 h but not at 24 or 72 h post LPS exposure. These results demonstrate that exposure to aerosolized LPS resulted in a more potent inflammatory response at lower doses and that inflammation was more uniformly distributed throughout the lung compared to inflammation caused by intratracheal LPS instillation. Therefore, this animal model will be useful for screening efficacy of anti-inflammatory drugs.
PMCID: PMC3103593  PMID: 21504754
pulmonary inflammation; airway epithelial hyperplasia; mucous cell metaplasia; apoptosis; phosphodiesterase inhibitor
14.  Cigarette Smoke Suppresses Bik To Cause Epithelial Cell Hyperplasia and Mucous Cell Metaplasia 
Rationale: Aberrant regulation of airway epithelial cell numbers in airways leads to increased mucous secretions in chronic lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis. Because the Bcl-2 family of proteins is crucial for airway epithelial homeostasis, identifying the players that reduce cigarette smoke (CS)-induced mucous cell metaplasia can help to develop effective therapies.
Objectives: To identify the Bcl-2 family of proteins that play a role in reducing CS-induced mucous cell metaplasia.
Methods: We screened for dysregulated expression of the Bcl-2 family members.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified Bik to be significantly reduced in bronchial brushings of patients with chronic epithelial cell hyperplasia compared with nondiseased control subjects. Reduced Bik but increased MUC5AC mRNA levels were also detected when normal human airway epithelial cells (HAECs) were exposed to CS or when autopsy tissues from former smokers with and without chronic bronchitis were compared. Similarly, exposure of C57Bl/6 mice to CS resulted in increased numbers of epithelial and mucous cells per millimeter of basal lamina, along with reduced Bik but increased Muc5ac expression, and this change was sustained even when mice were allowed to recover in filtered air for 8 weeks. Restoring Bik expression significantly suppressed CS-induced mucous cell metaplasia in differentiated primary HAEC cultures and in airways of mice in vivo. Bik blocked nuclear translocation of phospho-ERK1/2 to induce apoptosis of HAECs. The conserved Leu61 within Bik and ERK1/2 activation were essential to induce cell death in hyperplastic mucous cells.
Conclusions: These studies show that CS suppresses Bik expression to block airway epithelia cell death and thereby increases epithelial cell hyperplasia in chronic bronchitis.
PMCID: PMC3137142  PMID: 21317312
Bcl-2 family of proteins; chronic bronchitis; differentiated human airway cultures; former smokers; MUC5AC
15.  Antioxidant Diet Protects Against Emphysema, but Increases Mortality in Cigarette Smoke-Exposed Mice 
COPD  2011;8(5):362-368.
Oxidative stress plays an important role in cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation and emphysema. We produced an enriched diet by adding freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and additional supplements to the 8604 Teklad Rodent Diet, a standard rodent diet. In this study, we examined the effects of the antioxidant-enriched diet on cigarette smoke-induced lung inflammation and emphysema. CH3/HeN mice were fed either a regular diet or an antioxidant diet. These mice were exposed to filtered air, a low concentration of cigarette smoke (total particulate matter: 100 mg/m3) or a high concentration of cigarette smoke (total particulate matter: 250mg/m3) for 6 hours/day, 5 days/week for total 16 weeks. Surprisingly, increased mortality (53%) was observed in the high concentration of cigarette smoke-exposed mice fed the antioxidant diet compared to the high concentration of cigarette smoke-exposed mice that were fed a regular diet (13%). The necropsy analysis revealed nasal passage obstruction due to mucous plugging in cigarette smoke-exposed mice on the antioxidant diet. However, the antioxidant diet significantly reduced neutrophilic inflammation and emphysema in the high concentration of cigarette smoke-exposed mice as compared to the regular diet /high concentration of cigarette smoke controls. The antioxidant capacity in the bronchoalveolar fluid or oxidative damage to the lung tissue was not affected by the antioxidant diet. Pro-MMP-2, MMP-2, and MMP-9 activity did not correlate with the protective effects of AOD on cigarette smoke-induced emphysema. These data suggest that the antioxidant diet reduced cigarette smoke -induced inflammation and emphysema, but increased mortality in the obligate nose-breathing mice.
PMCID: PMC3323122  PMID: 21834692
cigarette smoke; emphysema; oxidative stress; lung inflammation; adverse effects; lipid peroxidation; metalloproteinase
16.  Combination Therapy with Vidaza and Entinostat Suppresses Tumor Growth and Reprograms the Epigenome in an Orthotopic Lung Cancer Model 
Cancer research  2011;71(2):454-462.
Epigenetic therapy for solid tumors could benefit from an in vivo model that defines tumor characteristics of responsiveness and resistance to facilitate patient selection. Here we report that combining the histone deacetylase inhibitor entinostat with the demethylating agent vidaza profoundly affected growth of K-ras/p53 mutant lung adenocarcinomas engrafted orthotopically in immunocompromised nude rats by targeting and ablating pleomorphic cells that occupied up to 75% of the tumor masses. A similar reduction in tumor burden was seen with epigenetic therapy in K-ras or EGFR mutant tumors growing orthotopically. Increased expression of pro-apoptotic genes and the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p21 was seen. Hundreds of genes were demethylated highlighted by the re-expression of polycomb-regulated genes coding for transcription factor binding proteins and the p16 gene, a key regulator of the cell cycle. Highly significant gene expression changes were seen in key regulatory pathways involved in cell cycle, DNA damage, apoptosis, and tissue remodeling. These findings demonstrate the promise for epigenetic therapy in cancer management and provide an orthotopic lung cancer model that can assess therapeutic efficacy and reprogramming of the epigenome in tumors harboring different genetic and epigenetic profiles to guide use of these drugs.
PMCID: PMC3075424  PMID: 21224363
lung cancer; DNA methylation; polycomb; epigenetic therapy; nude rat
17.  Wood Smoke Exposure and Gene Promoter Methylation Are Associated with Increased Risk for COPD in Smokers 
Rationale: Wood smoke–associated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is common in women in developing countries but has not been adequately described in developed countries.
Objectives: Our objective was to determine whether wood smoke exposure was a risk factor for COPD in a population of smokers in the United States and whether aberrant gene promoter methylation in sputum may modify this association.
Methods: For this cross-sectional study, 1,827 subjects were drawn from the Lovelace Smokers' Cohort, a predominantly female cohort of smokers. Wood smoke exposure was self-reported. Postbronchodilator spirometry was obtained, and COPD outcomes studied included percent predicted FEV1, airflow obstruction, and chronic bronchitis. Effect modification of wood smoke exposure with current cigarette smoke, ethnicity, sex, and promoter methylation of lung cancer-related genes in sputum on COPD outcomes were separately explored. Multivariable logistic and poisson regression models were used for binary and rate-based outcomes, respectively.
Measurements and Main Results: Self-reported wood smoke exposure was independently associated with a lower percent predicted FEV1 (point estimate [± SE] −0.03 ± 0.01) and a higher prevalence of airflow obstruction and chronic bronchitis (odds ratio, 1.96; 95% confidence interval, 1.52–2.52 and 1.64 (95% confidence interval, 1.31–2.06, respectively). These associations were stronger among current cigarette smokers, non-Hispanic whites, and men. Wood smoke exposure interacted in a multiplicative manner with aberrant promoter methylation of the p16 or GATA4 genes on lower percent predicted FEV1.
Conclusions: These studies identify a novel link between wood smoke exposure and gene promoter methylation that synergistically increases the risk for reduced lung function in cigarette smokers.
PMCID: PMC3001253  PMID: 20595226
wood smoke; cigarette smokers; airflow obstruction; gene promoter methylation in sputum DNA
18.  Growth and differentiation of primary and passaged equine bronchial epithelial cells under conventional and air-liquid-interface culture conditions 
Horses develop recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) that resembles human bronchial asthma. Differentiated primary equine bronchial epithelial cells (EBEC) in culture that closely mimic the airway cells in vivo would be useful to investigate the contribution of bronchial epithelium in inflammation of airway diseases. However, because isolation and characterization of EBEC cultures has been limited, we modified and optimized techniques of generating and culturing EBECs from healthy horses to mimic in vivo conditions.
Large numbers of EBEC were obtained by trypsin digestion and successfully grown for up to 2 passages with or without serum. However, serum or ultroser G proved to be essential for EBEC differentiation on membrane inserts at ALI. A pseudo-stratified muco-ciliary epithelium with basal cells was observed at differentiation. Further, transepithelial resistance (TEER) was more consistent and higher in P1 cultures compared to P0 cultures while ciliation was delayed in P1 cultures.
This study provides an efficient method for obtaining a high-yield of EBECs and for generating highly differentiated cultures. These EBEC cultures can be used to study the formation of tight junction or to identify epithelial-derived inflammatory factors that contribute to lung diseases such as asthma.
PMCID: PMC3117700  PMID: 21649893
19.  Anti-IgE therapy results in decreased myeloid dendritic cells in asthmatic airways 
Capsule Summary
Anti-IgE treatment of intermittent to mild-persistent asthma in a cohort of seven volunteers resulted in improved allergen-induced airway hyperreactivity and a significant reduction in the number of airway myeloid dendritic cells.
PMCID: PMC2866812  PMID: 20304471
Anti-IgE treatment; Allergic Asthma; Dendritic cells (DCs); Myeloid DCs (mDCs); Plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs)
21.  Effects of 10 Cigarette Smoke Condensates on Primary Human Airway Epithelial Cells by Comparative Gene and Cytokine Expression Studies 
Toxicological Sciences  2009;114(1):79-89.
Cigarettes vary in tobacco blend, filter ventilation, additives, and other physical and chemical properties, but little is known regarding potential differences in toxicity to a smoker’s airway epithelia. We compared changes in gene expression and cytokine production in primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells following treatment for 18 h with cigarette smoke condensates (CSCs) prepared from five commercial and four research cigarettes, at doses of ∼4 μg/ml nicotine. Nine of the CSCs were produced under a standard International Organization for Standardization smoking machine regimen and one was produced by a more intense smoking machine regimen. Isolated messenger RNA (mRNA) was analyzed by microarray hybridization, and media was analyzed for secreted cytokines and chemokines. Twenty-one genes were differentially expressed by at least 9 of the 10 CSCs by more than twofold, including genes encoding detoxifying and antioxidant proteins. Cytochrome P450, family 1, subfamily A, polypeptide 1 (CYP1A1) and NAD(P)H dehydrogenase, quinone 1 (NQO-1) were selected for validation with quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot analyses. NQO-1 expression determined with microarrays, qRT-PCR, and Western blotting differed among the CSC types, with good correlation among the different assays. CYP1A1 mRNA levels varied substantially, but there was little correlation with the protein levels. For each CSC, the three most induced and three most repressed genes were identified. These genes may be useful as markers of exposure to that particular cigarette type. Furthermore, differences in interleukin-8 secretion were observed. These studies lay the foundation for future investigations to analyze differences in the responses of in vivo systems to tobacco products marketed with claims of reduced exposure or reduced harm.
PMCID: PMC3988454  PMID: 20015843
cigarette smoke condensates; primary human lung epithelial cells; gene expression; toxicity; cytokine
22.  MMP12, Lung Function, and COPD in High-Risk Populations 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(27):2599-2608.
Genetic variants influencing lung function in children and adults may ultimately lead to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), particularly in high-risk groups.
We tested for an association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene encoding matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) and a measure of lung function (prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) in more than 8300 subjects in seven cohorts that included children and adults. Within the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a cohort of initially healthy adult men, we tested for an association between SNPs that were associated with FEV1 and the time to the onset of COPD. We then examined the relationship between MMP12 SNPs and COPD in two cohorts of adults with COPD or at risk for COPD.
The minor allele (G) of a functional variant in the promoter region of MMP12 (rs2276109 [−82A→G]) was positively associated with FEV1 in a combined analysis of children with asthma and adult former and current smokers in all cohorts (P=2×10−6). This allele was also associated with a reduced risk of the onset of COPD in the NAS cohort (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.92; P = 0.02) and with a reduced risk of COPD in a cohort of smokers (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.88; P = 0.005) and among participants in a family-based study of early-onset COPD (P = 0.006).
The minor allele of a SNP in MMP12 (rs2276109) is associated with a positive effect on lung function in children with asthma and in adults who smoke. This allele is also associated with a reduced risk of COPD in adult smokers.
PMCID: PMC2904064  PMID: 20018959
23.  How ERK1/2 Activation Controls Cell Proliferation and Cell Death Is Subcellular Localization the Answer? 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2009;8(8):1168-1175.
Extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) are members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase super family that can mediate cell proliferation and apoptosis. The Ras–Raf–MEK–ERK signaling cascade controlling cell proliferation has been well studied but the mechanisms involved in ERK1/2-mediated cell death are largely unknown. This review focuses on recent papers that define ERK1/2 translocation to the nucleus and the proteins involved in the cytosolic retention of activated ERK1/2. Cytosolic retention of ERK1/2 denies access to the transcription factor substrates that are responsible for the mitogenic response. In addition, cytosolic ERK1/2, besides inhibiting survival and proliferative signals in the nucleus, potentiates the catalytic activity of some proapoptotic proteins such as DAP kinase in the cytoplasm. Studies that further define the function of cytosolic ERK1/2 and its cytosolic substrates that enhance cell death will be essential to harness this pathway for developing effective treatments for cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC2728430  PMID: 19282669
MAP kinases; activation; epithelial cells; nuclear translocation; cancer; lung diseases
24.  Akt-mediated eminent expression of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 confers acquired resistance to TRAIL-induced cytotoxicity to lung cancer cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(5):1156-1163.
TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a potential anticancer agent due to its selectivity in killing transformed cells. However, TRAIL can also stimulate TRAIL-resistant cancer cells’ proliferation and metastasis. Thus, acquired TRAIL resistance during TRAIL therapy would shift the patient’s treatment from beneficial to detrimental. In this study we focused on the acquired TRAIL resistance mechanism and demonstrated that the elevated expression of the anti-apoptotic factor cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) and the pro-survival Bcl-2 family member myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1) underlie the main mechanism of this type of TRAIL resistance in lung cancer cells. Chronic exposure to TRAIL resulted in lung cancer cell resistance to TRAIL-induced cytotoxicity, and this resistance was associated with the increase in the cellular levels of c-FLIP L and Mcl-1L. Overexpresssion of c-FLIPL suppressed recruitment of caspase-8 to the death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) while increased Mcl-1L expression blunted the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. The elevation of c-FLIP L and Mcl-1L expression was due to Akt-mediated stabilization of these proteins in TRAIL-resistant cells. Importantly, suppressing c-FLIPL and Mcl-1L expression by RNA interference collectively alleviated acquired TRAIL resistance. Taken together, these results identify c-FLIPL and Mcl-1L as the major determinants of acquired TRAIL resistance and could be molecular targets for improving TRAIL’s therapeutic value against lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2715176  PMID: 18483303
TRAIL; c-FLIP; Mcl-1; Akt; apoptosis; lung cancer
25.  Nicotine Primarily Suppresses Lung Th2 but not Goblet Cell and Muscle Cell Responses to Allergens 
Allergic asthma, an inflammatory disease characterized by infiltration and activation of various leukocytes, production of Th2 cytokines and leukotrienes, and atopy, also affects the function of other cell types, causing goblet cell hyperplasia/hypertrophy, increased mucus production/secretion, and airway hyperreactivity. Eosinophilic inflammation is a characteristic feature of human asthma, and recent evidence suggests that eosinophils also play a critical role in T cell trafficking in animal models of asthma. Nicotine is an anti-inflammatory, but the association between smoking and asthma is highly contentious, and some report that smoking cessation increases the risk of asthma in ex-smokers. To ascertain the effects of nicotine on allergy/asthma, Brown Norway rats were treated with nicotine, and sensitized and challenged with allergens. Results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung, including eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE. While nicotine did not significantly affect hexosaminidase release, IgG, or methacholine-induced airway resistance, it significantly decreased mucus content in bronchoalveolar lavage; interestingly, however, in spite of the strong suppression of IL-4/IL-13, nicotine significantly increased the intraepithelial stored mucosubstances, and Muc5ac mRNA expression. These results suggest that nicotine modulates allergy/asthma primarily by suppressing eosinophil trafficking and suppressing Th2 cytokine/chemokine responses without reducing goblet cell metaplasia, mucous production, and may explain the lower risk of allergic diseases in smokers. To our knowledge this is the first direct evidence that nicotine modulates allergic responses.
PMCID: PMC2614131  PMID: 18490768

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