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1.  Human Airway Eosinophils Exhibit Preferential Reduction in STAT Signaling Capacity and Increased CISH Expression1 
Allergic asthma, a chronic respiratory disorder marked by inflammation and recurrent airflow obstruction, is associated with elevated levels of Interleukin-5 (IL-5) family cytokines, and elevated numbers of eosinophils (EOS). IL-5 family cytokines elongate peripheral blood EOS (EOSPB) viability, recruit EOSPB to the airways, and at higher concentrations, induce degranulation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. While, EOSA remain signal ready in that GM-CSF treatment induces degranulation, treatment of EOSA with IL-5 family cytokines no longer confers a survival advantage. Since the IL-5 family receptors have common signaling capacity, but are uncoupled from EOSA survival while other IL-5 family induced endpoints remain functional, we tested the hypothesis that EOSA possess a JAK/STAT specific regulatory mechanism (since JAK/STAT signaling is critical to EOS survival). We found that IL-5 family-induced STAT3 and STAT5 phosphorylation is attenuated in EOSA relative to blood EOS from airway allergen-challenged donors (EOSCPB). However, IL-5 family induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation is not altered between EOSA and EOSCPB. These observations suggest EOSA possess a regulatory mechanism for suppressing STAT signaling distinct from ERK1/2 activation. Furthermore, we found, in EOSPB, IL-5 family cytokines induce members of the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) genes, CISH and SOCS1. Additionally, following allergen challenge, EOSA express significantly more CISH and SOCS1 mRNA and CISH protein than EOSPB counterparts. In EOSPB, long-term pretreatment with IL-5 family cytokines, to varying degrees, attenuates IL-5 family induced STAT5 phosphorylation. These data support a model wherein IL-5 family cytokines trigger a selective down-regulation mechanism in EOSA for JAK/STAT pathways.
PMCID: PMC3786682  PMID: 23956426
2.  P2X7-Regulated Protection from Exacerbations and Loss of Control Is Independent of Asthma Maintenance Therapy 
Rationale: The function of the P2X7 nucleotide receptor protects against exacerbation in people with mild-intermittent asthma during viral illnesses, but the impact of disease severity and maintenance therapy has not been studied.
Objectives: To evaluate the association between P2X7, asthma exacerbations, and incomplete symptom control in a more diverse population.
Methods: A matched P2RX7 genetic case-control was performed with samples from Asthma Clinical Research Network trial participants enrolled before July 2006, and P2X7 pore activity was determined in whole blood samples as an ancillary study to two trials completed subsequently.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 187 exacerbations were studied in 742 subjects, and the change in asthma symptom burden was studied in an additional 110 subjects during a trial of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) dose optimization. African American carriers of the minor G allele of the rs2230911 loss-of-function single nucleotide polymorphism were more likely to have a history of prednisone use in the previous 12 months, with adjustment for ICS and long-acting β2-agonists use (odds ratio, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–6.2; P = 0.018). Despite medium-dose ICS, attenuated pore function predicted earlier exacerbations in incompletely controlled patients with moderate asthma (hazard ratio, 3.2; confidence interval, 1.1–9.3; P = 0.033). After establishing control with low-dose ICS in patients with mild asthma, those with attenuated pore function had more asthma symptoms, rescue albuterol use, and FEV1 reversal (P < 0.001, 0.03, and 0.03, respectively) during the ICS adjustment phase.
Conclusions: P2X7 pore function protects against exacerbations of asthma and loss of control, independent of baseline severity and the maintenance therapy.
PMCID: PMC3570642  PMID: 23144325
asthma; P2X7; exacerbation; Asthma Clinical Research Network; corticosteroids
3.  Rhinovirus-Induced IL-1β Release from Bronchial Epithelial Cells Is Independent of Functional P2X7 
Airway epithelial cell defenses to viral infections are often compromised in disease or injury. Danger molecules, including ATP, are released during infection and contribute to nucleotide receptor–dependent inflammatory responses, largely through P2X7. Although respiratory epithelium has been shown to express a variety of nucleotide receptors, the functional contribution of P2X7 to the epithelial cell inflammatory response is unclear. We used human donor bronchial epithelial cells (BECs) and primary brushed epithelium to explore responses upon nucleotide and Toll-like receptor stimulation. P2X7 messenger RNA and protein were observed in unprimed BECs, whereas inflammatory cytokine stimulation increased both messenger RNA and protein. Functional pore activity characteristic of P2X7 was observed in BECs, and IL-1β was rapidly released by BECs after Toll-like receptor 3 agonist, polyinosine-polycytidylic acid, priming followed by ATP administration, although no change was observed in IL-18 release. BECs produced more IL-1β after stimulation with polyinosine-polycytidylic acid than LPS, showing a different preferential response than monocytes. In addition, blockade of nucleotide receptors with oxidized ATP significantly increased human rhinovirus (HRV) recovered 24 hours after infection in BECs, whereas 2′-3′-O-(4-benzoylbenzoyl) ATP treatment of brushed epithelial cells and respiratory cell lines nonsignificantly decreased HRV recovery. IL-1β release was detected after HRV infection in both BECs and brushed cells, but BzATP did not significantly increase IL-1β release further. BEC processing of pro–IL-1β to the mature, cleaved, 17-kD form was confirmed by Western blotting. These results support the expression of functional P2X7 in human lung epithelium, although its role in epithelial pathogen defense is likely independent of IL-1 family cytokine processing.
PMCID: PMC3488691  PMID: 22493010
P2X7; IL-1β; human rhinovirus; respiratory epithelium; danger signaling
4.  Protection from asthma in a high-risk birth cohort by attenuated P2X7 function 
Viral illnesses are important factors in both asthma inception and exacerbations, and allergic sensitization in early life further enhances asthma risk through unclear mechanisms. Cellular damage due to infection or allergen inhalation increases ATP in the airways with subsequent purinergic receptor activation. The purinergic receptor P2X7 may enhance airway leukocyte recruitment to the airways and P2X7 knockout mice display a reduced asthma-like phenotype.
Based upon the P2X7 knockout mouse, we hypothesized that children with low functioning P2X7 would have decreased rates of asthma.
We utilized a functional assay to determine P2X7 pore-producing capacity in whole blood samples in a birth cohort study at high risk for asthma development. The P2X7 assay was validated with known loss-of-function alleles in humans. P2X7 pore status categorization was used to assess asthma and allergy status in the cohort.
Attenuated P2X7 function was associated with lower asthma rates at ages 6 and 8 and the greatest effects were observed in boys. Children with asthma at age 11 who had low P2X7 capacity had less severe disease in the previous year. Attenuated P2X7 function was also associated with sensitization to fewer aeroallergens.
P2X7 functional capacity is associated with asthma risk or disease severity and these relationships appear to be age-related.
PMCID: PMC3551624  PMID: 22743305
asthma; allergy; children; P2X7; ATP
5.  Lower Airway Rhinovirus Burden and the Seasonal Risk of Asthma Exacerbation 
Rationale: Most asthma exacerbations are initiated by viral upper respiratory illnesses. It is unclear whether human rhinovirus (HRV)–induced exacerbations are associated with greater viral replication and neutrophilic inflammation compared with HRV colds.
Objectives: To evaluate viral strain and load in a prospective asthma cohort during a natural cold.
Methods: Adults were enrolled at the first sign of a cold, with daily monitoring of symptoms, medication use, and peak expiratory flow rate until resolution. Serial nasal lavage and induced sputum samples were assessed for viral copy number and inflammatory cell counts.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 52 persons with asthma and 14 control subjects without atopy or asthma were studied for over 10 weeks per subject on average; 25 participants developed an asthma exacerbation. Detection of HRVs in the preceding 5 days was the most common attributable exposure related to exacerbation. Compared with other infections, those by a minor group A HRV were 4.4-fold more likely to cause exacerbation (P = 0.038). Overall, sputum neutrophils and the burden of rhinovirus in the lower airway were similar in control subjects without atopy and the asthma group. However, among HRV-infected participants with asthma, exacerbations were associated with greater sputum neutrophil counts (P = 0.005).
Conclusions: HRV infection is a frequent cause of exacerbations in adults with asthma and a cold, and there may be group-specific differences in severity of these events. The absence of large differences in viral burden among groups suggests differential lower airway sensitization to the effects of neutrophilic inflammation in the patients having exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3208645  PMID: 21816938
asthma; virus; exacerbation; index; neutrophil
6.  Semaphorin 7A is expressed on airway eosinophils and upregulated by IL-5 family cytokines 
Semaphorin 7A (Sema7A) plays a major role in TGF-β1-induced lung fibrosis. Based on the accumulating evidence that eosinophils contribute to fibrosis/remodeling in the airway, we hypothesized that airway eosinophils may be a significant source of sema7A. In vivo, sema7A was expressed on the surface of circulating eosinophils and upregulated on bronchoalveolar lavage eosinophils obtained after segmental bronchoprovocation with allergen. Based on mRNA levels in unfractionated and isolated bronchoalveolar cells, eosinophils are the predominant source of sema7A. In vitro, among the members of the IL-5-family cytokines, sema7A protein on the surface of blood eosinophils was increased more by IL-3 than by GM-CSF or IL-5. Cytokine-induced expression of cell surface sema7A required translation of newly synthetized protein. Finally, a recombinant sema7A induced alpha-smooth muscle actin production in human bronchial fibroblasts. Semaphorin 7A is a potentially important modulator of eosinophil profibrotic functions in the airway remodeling of patients with chronic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3947215  PMID: 24333536
Eosinophil; semaphorin 7A; IL-3; fibrosis; translation
7.  Attenuated P2X7 Pore Function as a Risk Factor for Virus-induced Loss of Asthma Control 
Rationale: Upper respiratory tract infection is a guideline accepted risk domain for the loss of asthma control. The ionotrophic nucleotide receptor P2X7 regulates compartmentalized acute inflammation and the immune response to airway pathogens.
Objectives: We hypothesized that variability in P2X7 function contributes to neutrophilic airway inflammation during a cold and thereby is linked to acute asthma.
Methods: Research volunteers with asthma were enrolled at the onset of a naturally occurring cold and monitored through convalescence, assessing symptoms, lung function, and airway inflammation. P2X7 pore activity in whole blood samples was measured using a genomically validated flow cytometric assay.
Measurements and Main Results: Thirty-five participants with mild to moderate allergic asthma were enrolled and 31 completed all visits. P2X7 pore function correlated with the change in nasal lavage neutrophil counts during the cold (Rs = 0.514, P = 0.004) and was inversely related to the change in asthma symptoms (Rs = −0.486, P = 0.009). The change in peak expiratory flow recordings, precold use of inhaled corticosteroids, and P2X7 pore function were multivariate predictors of asthma symptoms (P = 0.001, < 0.001 and = 0.003 respectively). Attenuated P2X7 activity was associated with the risk of losing asthma control (crude odds ratio, 11.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–106.4) even after adjustment for inhaled corticosteroids and rhinovirus (odds ratio, 15.0).
Conclusions: A whole blood P2X7 pore assay robustly identifies participants with loss-of-function genotypes. Using this assay as an epidemiologic tool, attenuated P2X7 pore activity may be a novel biomarker of virus-induced loss of asthma control.
PMCID: PMC2643076  PMID: 19201928
asthma; virus; neutrophils; P2X7
8.  Predictors of Response to Tiotropium Versus Salmeterol in Adults with Asthma1 
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology  2013;132(5):10.1016/j.jaci.2013.08.003.
Tiotropium has activity as an asthma controller. However, predictors of a positive response to tiotropium have not been described.
To describe individual and differential response of patients with asthma to salmeterol and tiotropium, when added to an ICS, as well as predictors of a positive clinical response.
Data from the double-blind, three-way crossover NHLBI Asthma Clinical Research Network’s TALC trial ( number, NCT00565266) were analyzed for individual and differential treatment responses to salmeterol and tiotropium, and predictors of a positive response to the endpoints FEV1, morning peak expiratory flow (AM PEF), and asthma control days (ACDs).
While approximately equal numbers of patients showed a differential response to salmeterol and tiotropium in terms of AM PEF (90 and 78, respectively), and ACDs (49 and 53, respectively), more showed a differential response to tiotropium for FEV1 (104) than salmeterol (62). An acute response to a short-acting bronchodilator, especially albuterol, predicted a positive clinical response to tiotropium for FEV1 (OR 4.08 [CI 2.00–8.31], P < 0.001) and AM PEF (OR 2.12 [CI 1.12–4.01], P = 0.021), as did a decreased FEV1/FVC ratio (FEV1 response increased 0.39% of baseline for every 1% decrease in the FEV1/FVC ratio). Higher cholinergic tone was also a predictor, while ethnicity, gender, atopy, IgE Level, sputum eosinophils, FENO, asthma duration, and BMI were not.
While these results need confirmation, predictors of a positive clinical response to tiotropium include a positive response to albuterol and airway obstruction, factors which could help identify appropriate patients for this therapy.
PMCID: PMC3826080  PMID: 24084072
asthma; tiotropium; salmeterol; responder analysis; predictor of response
9.  Cholesterol Selectively Regulates IL-5 Induced Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase Signaling in Human Eosinophils 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103122.
Eosinophils function contributes to human allergic and autoimmune diseases, many of which currently lack curative treatment. Development of more effective treatments for eosinophil-related diseases requires expanded understanding of eosinophil signaling and biology. Cell signaling requires integration of extracellular signals with intracellular responses, and is organized in part by cholesterol rich membrane microdomains (CRMMs), commonly referred to as lipid rafts. Formation of these organizational membrane domains is in turn dependent upon the amount of available cholesterol, which can fluctuate widely with a variety of disease states. We tested the hypothesis that manipulating membrane cholesterol content in primary human peripheral blood eosinophils (PBEos) would selectively alter signaling pathways that depend upon membrane-anchored signaling proteins localized within CRMMs (e.g., mitogen activated protein kinase [MAPK] pathway), while not affecting pathways that signal through soluble proteins, like the Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription [JAK/STAT] pathway. Cholesterol levels were increased or decreased utilizing cholesterol-chelating methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD), which can either extract membrane cholesterol or add exogenous membrane cholesterol depending on whether MβCD is preloaded with cholesterol. Human PBEos were pretreated with MβCD (cholesterol removal) or MβCD+Cholesterol (MβCD+Chol; cholesterol delivery); subsequent IL-5-stimulated signaling and physiological endpoints were assessed. MβCD reduced membrane cholesterol in PBEos, and attenuated an IL-5-stimulated p38 and extracellular-regulated kinase 1/2 phosphorylation (p-p38, p-ERK1/2), and an IL-5-dependent increase in interleukin-1β (IL-1β) mRNA levels. In contrast, MβCD+Chol treatment elevated PBEos membrane cholesterol levels and basal p-p38, but did not alter IL-5-stimulated phosphorylation of ERK1/2, STAT5, or STAT3. Furthermore, MβCD+Chol pretreatment attenuated an IL-5-induced increase in cell survival at 48 hours, measured as total cellular metabolism. The reduction in cell survival following cholesterol addition despite unaltered STAT phosphorylation contradicts the current dogma in which JAK/STAT activation is sufficient to promote eosinophil survival, and suggests an additional, unidentified mechanism critically regulates IL-5-mediated human PBEos survival.
PMCID: PMC4133209  PMID: 25121926
10.  Markers of Vascular Perturbation Correlate with Airway Structural Change in Asthma 
Rationale: Air trapping and ventilation defects on imaging are characteristics of asthma. Airway wall thickening occurs in asthma and is associated with increased bronchial vascularity and vascular permeability. Vascular endothelial cell products have not been explored as a surrogate to mark structural airway changes in asthma.
Objectives: Determine whether reporters of vascular endothelial cell perturbation correlate with airway imaging metrics in patients with asthma of varying severity.
Methods: Plasma from Severe Asthma Research Program subjects was analyzed by ELISAs for soluble von Willebrand factor mature protein (VWF:Ag) and propeptide (VWFpp), P-selectin, and platelet factor 4. Additional subjects were analyzed over 48 hours after whole-lung antigen challenge. We calculated ventilation defect volume by hyperpolarized helium-3 magnetic resonance imaging and areas of low signal density by multidetector computed tomography (less than −856 Hounsfield units [HU] at functional residual capacity and −950 HU at total lung capacity [TLC]).
Measurements and Main Results: VWFpp and VWFpp/Ag ratio correlated with and predicted greater percentage defect volume on hyperpolarized helium-3 magnetic resonance imaging. P-selectin correlated with and predicted greater area of low density on chest multidetector computed tomography less than −950 HU at TLC. Platelet factor 4 did not correlate. Following whole-lung antigen challenge, variation in VWFpp, VWFpp/Ag, and P-selectin among time-points was less than that among subjects, indicating stability and repeatability of the measurements.
Conclusions: Plasma VWFpp and P-selectin may be useful as surrogates of functional and structural defects that are evident on imaging. The results raise important questions about why VWFpp and P-selectin are associated specifically with different imaging abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3778758  PMID: 23855693
asthma; von Willebrand factor; P-selectin; magnetic resonance imaging; computed tomography
11.  Anti-IL-5 attenuates activation and surface density of β2-integrins on circulating eosinophils after segmental antigen challenge 
IL-5 activates αMβ2 integrin on blood eosinophils in vitro. Eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) following segmental antigen challenge have activated β2-integrins.
To identify roles for IL-5 in regulating human eosinophil integrins in vivo.
Blood and BAL eosinophils were analyzed by flow cytometry in ten subjects with allergic asthma who underwent a segmental antigen challenge protocol before and after anti-IL-5 administration.
Blood eosinophil reactivity with monoclonal antibody (mAb) KIM-127, which recognizes partially activated β2-integrins, was decreased after anti-IL-5. Before anti-IL-5, surface densities of blood eosinophil β2, αM, and αL integrin subunits increased modestly post-challenge. After anti-IL-5, such increases did not occur. Before or after anti-IL-5, surface densities of β2,αM, αL, and αD and reactivity with KIM-127 and mAb CBRM1/5, which recognizes high-activity αMβ2, were similarly high on BAL eosinophils 48 h post-challenge. Density and activation state of β1-integrins on blood and BAL eosinophils were not impacted by anti-IL-5, even though anti-IL-5 ablated a modest post-challenge increase on blood or BAL eosinophils of P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1), a receptor for P-selectin that causes activation of β1-integrins. Forward scatter of blood eosinophils post-challenge was less heterogeneous and on the average decreased after anti-IL-5; however, anti-IL-5 had no effect on the decreased forward scatter of eosinophils in post-challenge BAL compared to eosinophils in blood. Blood eosinophil KIM-127 reactivity at the time of challenge correlated with the percentage of eosinophils in BAL post-challenge.
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance
IL-5 supports a heterogeneous population of circulating eosinophils with partially activated β2-integrins and is responsible for upregulation of β2-integrins and PSGL-1 on circulating eosinophils following segmental antigen challenge but has minimal effects on properties of eosinophils in BAL. Dampening of β2-integrin function of eosinophils in transit to inflamed airway may contribute to the decrease in lung inflammation caused by anti-IL-5.
PMCID: PMC3579563  PMID: 23414537
eosinophils; integrins; PSGL-1; forward scatter; IL-5; blood; bronchoalveolar lavage; segmental lung antigen challenge
12.  Identification of Genes Expressed by Human Airway Eosinophils after an In Vivo Allergen Challenge 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67560.
The mechanism for the contribution of eosinophils (EOS) to asthma pathophysiology is not fully understood. Genome-wide expression analysis of airway EOS by microarrays has been limited by the ability to generate high quality RNA from sufficient numbers of airway EOS.
To identify, by genome-wide expression analyses, a compendium of expressed genes characteristic of airway EOS following an in vivo allergen challenge.
Atopic, mild asthmatic subjects were recruited for these studies. Induced sputum was obtained before and 48h after a whole lung allergen challenge (WLAC). Individuals also received a segmental bronchoprovocation with allergen (SBP-Ag) 1 month before and after administering a single dose of mepolizumab (anti-IL-5 monoclonal antibody) to reduce airway EOS. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed before and 48 h after SBP-Ag. Gene expression of sputum and BAL cells was analyzed by microarrays. The results were validated by qPCR in BAL cells and purified BAL EOS.
A total of 299 transcripts were up-regulated by more than 2-fold in total BAL cells following SBP-Ag. Mepolizumab treatment resulted in a reduction of airway EOS by 54.5% and decreased expression of 99 of the 299 transcripts. 3 of 6 post-WLAC sputum samples showed increased expression of EOS-specific genes, along with the expression of 361 other genes. Finally, the intersection of the 3 groups of transcripts (increased in BAL post SBP-Ag (299), decreased after mepolizumab (99), and increased in sputum after WLAC (365)) was composed of 57 genes characterizing airway EOS gene expression.
We identified 57 genes that were highly expressed by BAL EOS compared to unseparated BAL cells after in vivo allergen challenge. 41 of these genes had not been previously described in EOS and are thus potential new candidates to elucidate EOS contribution to airway biology.
PMCID: PMC3699655  PMID: 23844029
13.  The C-Terminus of Human Nucleotide Receptor P2X7 Is Critical for Receptor Oligomerization and N-Linked Glycosylation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63789.
The P2X7 receptor binds extracellular ATP to mediate numerous inflammatory responses and is considered a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for diverse inflammatory and neurological diseases. P2X7 contains many single nucleotide polymorphisms, including several mutations located within its intracellular C-terminal trafficking domain. Mutations within the trafficking domain result in attenuated receptor activity and cell surface presentation, but the mechanisms by which amino acid changes within this region promote altered P2X7 function have not been elucidated.
Methods and Results
We analyzed the amino acid sequence of P2X7 for any potential trafficking signals and found that P2X7 contains putative Arg-X-Arg ER retention sequences. Alanine substitutions near or within these sequences were constructed, and we determined that single mutation of R574 and R578 but not R576 or K579 attenuates P2X7-stimulated activation of ERK1/2 and induction of the transcription factors FosB and ΔFosB. We found that mutation of R578 within the trafficking domain to the naturally occurring Gln substitution disrupts P2X7 localization at the plasma membrane and results in R578Q displaying a higher apparent molecular weight in comparison to wild-type receptor. We used the glycosidase endoglycosidase H to determine that this difference in mass is due in part to the R578Q mutant possessing a larger mass of oligosaccharides, indicative of improper N-linked glycosylation addition and/or trimming. Chemical cross-linking experiments were also performed and suggest that the R578Q variant also does not form trimers as well as wild-type receptor, a function required for its full activity.
These data demonstrate the distal C-terminus of P2X7 is important for oligomerization and post-translational modification of the receptor, providing a mechanism by which mutations in the trafficking domain disrupt P2X7 activity and localization at the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC3653848  PMID: 23691096
14.  Safety of and Cellular Response to Segmental Bronchoprovocation in Allergic Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51963.
Despite its incorporation into research studies, the safety aspects of segmental allergen bronchoprovocation and differences in cellular response among different allergens have received limited consideration.
We performed 87 segmental challenges in 77 allergic asthma subjects. Allergen dose was based on each subject’s response to whole lung allergen challenge. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed at 0 and 48 hours. Safety indicators included spirometry, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and symptoms.
Among subjects challenged with ragweed, cat dander, or house dust mite, there were no differences in safety indicators. Subjects demonstrated a modest oxygen desaturation and tachycardia during the procedure that returned to normal prior to discharge. We observed a modest reduction in forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in one second following bronchoscopy. The most common symptoms following the procedure were cough, sore throat and fatigue. Total bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cell numbers increased from 13±4 to 106±108×104 per milliliter and eosinophils increased from 1±2 to 44±20 percent, with no significant differences among the three allergens.
In mild allergic asthma, segmental allergen bronchoprovocation, using individualized doses of aeroallergens, was safe and yielded similar cellular responses.
PMCID: PMC3547018  PMID: 23341886
15.  Airway Microbiota and Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness in Patients with Sub-optimally Controlled Asthma 
Improvement in lung function following macrolide antibiotic therapy has been attributed to reduction in bronchial infection due to specific bacteria. However, the airway may be populated by a more diverse microbiota, and clinical features of asthma may be associated with characteristics of the airway microbiota present.
To determine if relationships exist between the composition of the airway bacterial microbiota and clinical features of asthma, using culture-independent tools capable of detecting the presence and relative abundance of most known bacteria.
In this pilot study, bronchial epithelial brushings were collected from sixty-five adults with sub-optimally controlled asthma participating in a multicenter study of the effects of clarithromycin on asthma control, and ten healthy subjects. A combination of high-density 16S rRNA microarray and parallel clone library-sequencing analysis was used to profile the microbiota and examine relationships with clinical measurements.
Compared to controls, 16S rRNA amplicon concentrations (a proxy for bacterial burden) and bacterial diversity were significantly higher among asthmatic patients. In multivariate analyses, airway microbiota composition and diversity were significantly correlated with bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Specifically, the relative abundance of particular phylotypes, including members of the Comamonadaceae, Sphingomonadaceae, Oxalobacteraceae and other bacterial families, were highly correlated with the degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness.
The composition of bronchial airway microbiota is associated with the degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness among patients with sub-optimally controlled asthma. These findings support the need for further functional studies to examine the potential contribution of members of the airway microbiota in asthma pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3037020  PMID: 21194740
microbiome; bacteria; asthma; 16S rRNA; PhyloChip
16.  Role of infection in the development and exacerbation of asthma 
Respiratory infections are associated with wheezing illnesses in all ages and may also impact the development and severity of asthma. Respiratory tract infections caused by viruses, Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma have been hypothesized to have significant roles in the pathogenesis of asthma. Progress is being made toward establishing the mechanisms by which these agents can cause acute wheezing and impact the pathophysiology of asthma. Host factors probably contribute to the risk of asthma inception and exacerbation, and these contributions may also vary with respect to early- versus adult-onset disease. This review discusses these various associations as they pertain to the development and exacerbation of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2840256  PMID: 20305826
asthma; asthma inception; exacerbation; respiratory infection; virus
17.  Detecting gene-by-smoking interactions in a genome-wide association study of early-onset coronary heart disease using random forests 
BMC Proceedings  2009;3(Suppl 7):S88.
Genome-wide association studies are often limited in their ability to attain their full potential due to the sheer volume of information created. We sought to use the random forest algorithm to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may be involved in gene-by-smoking interactions related to the early-onset of coronary heart disease.
Using data from the Framingham Heart Study, our analysis used a case-only design in which the outcome of interest was age of onset of early coronary heart disease.
Smoking status was dichotomized as ever versus never. The single SNP with the highest importance score assigned by random forests was rs2011345. This SNP was not associated with age alone in the control subjects. Using generalized estimating equations to adjust for sex and account for familial correlation, there was evidence of an interaction between rs2011345 and smoking status.
The results of this analysis suggest that random forests may be a useful tool for identifying SNPs taking part in gene-by-environment interactions in genome-wide association studies.
PMCID: PMC2795991  PMID: 20018084
18.  Guideline-Defining Asthma Clinical Trials of the NHLBI ACRN and CARE Networks 
Due to an increasing prevalence, morbidity and mortality associated with asthma, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute created the Asthma Clinical Research Network (ACRN) and the Childhood Asthma Research and Education (CARE) Network to improve public health. The objectives of these clinical research networks are to conduct multiple, well designed clinical trials for rapid evaluation of new and existing therapeutic approaches to asthma and to disseminate laboratory and clinical findings to the health care community. These trials comprise a large proportion of the data driving the treatment guidelines established and reviewed by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. This article will review the basic design and major findings of selected ACRN and CARE Network trials involving both adults and children with asthma. Collectively, these studies have helped refine the therapeutic role of existing controller medications, establish standard models for side effect evaluation and risk-benefit models, validate symptom based assessments for asthma control, and identify baseline characteristics that may predict individual patient responses. Remaining challenges include shaping the role of novel therapeutics in future guidelines, incorporating pharmacogenomic data in treatment decisions, and establishing better implementation strategies for translation to community settings, all with the goal of reducing the asthma burden on society.
PMCID: PMC2742212  PMID: 17141853
19.  Predicting worsening asthma control following the common cold 
The asthmatic response to the common cold is highly variable and early characteristics that predict worsening of asthma control following a cold have not been identified.
In this prospective multi-center cohort study of 413 adult subjects with asthma, we used the mini-Asthma Control Questionnaire (mini-ACQ) to quantify changes in asthma control and the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21 (WURSS-21) to measure cold severity. Univariate and multivariable models examined demographic, physiologic, serologic, and cold-related characteristics for their relationship to changes in asthma control following a cold.
We observed a clinically significant worsening of asthma control following a cold (increase in mini-ACQ of 0.69 ± 0.93). Univariate analysis demonstrated season, center location, cold length, and cold severity measurements all associated with a change in asthma control. Multivariable analysis of the covariates available within the first 2 days of cold onset revealed the day 2 and the cumulative sum of the day 1 and 2 WURSS-21 scores were significant predictors for the subsequent changes in asthma control.
In asthmatic subjects the cold severity measured within the first 2 days can be used to predict subsequent changes in asthma control. This information may help clinicians prevent deterioration in asthma control following a cold.
PMCID: PMC2592508  PMID: 18768579
asthma; asthma control; common cold
20.  Nuclear Translocation of NF-κB in Lipopolysaccharide-Treated Macrophages Fails To Correspond to Endotoxicity: Evidence Suggesting a Requirement for a Gamma Interferon-Like Signal 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(4):1638-1647.
Elucidation of a signal transduction pathway essential to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced macrophage activation has the capacity to provide new targets for the treatment of septic shock. In this regard, activation of the transcription factor NF-κB is commonly thought to be critical to LPS-stimulated macrophage inflammatory mediator production, although certain immunological, genetic, and molecular evidence suggests that other factors are involved. To address this issue, we hypothesized that the degree of LPS-induced NF-κB mobilization should correlate with the murine endotoxicity of the species of LPS used for in vitro study. Therefore, using d-galactosamine-sensitized mice, we assessed the lethal potencies of eight LPS preparations from Escherichia, Salmonella, Klebsiella, Bacteroides, Pseudomonas, Neisseria, and Rhodobacter species as well as that of the endotoxin substructure lipid X. The lethal potencies of these LPS preparations varied by >160-fold. Treatment of RAW 264.7 cells with the same LPS preparations induced levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and NO production that correlated with the LPS 50% lethal dose. The combined analysis of the levels of these two mediators produced in response to LPS in RAW cells was found to be a strong predictor of murine endotoxic lethality. Interestingly, while relatively nontoxic in mice, Rhodobacter capsulatus LPS stimulated RAW cell NF-κB-like DNA binding protein mobilization and TNF-α production to levels comparable to those of more toxic species of LPS but was unable to induce NO generation in RAW cells. These data indicate that neither NF-κB activation nor TNF-α production alone is a dependable predictor of LPS lethality. Additionally, cotreatment of RAW cells with the potent inflammatory mediator ADP had no effect on the ability of R. capsulatus LPS to stimulate NO production but significantly enhanced induction of NO production by the toxic species of LPS. In contrast, cotreatment of RAW cells or peritoneal macrophages with gamma interferon (IFN-γ) normalized the abilities of both toxic and nontoxic LPS preparations to induce NO production, suggesting that selected preparations of LPS may preferentially generate an IFN-γ-like signal that accounts for enhanced toxicity. In sum, the activation of NF-κB does not correspond to LPS lethality, thereby complicating models of macrophage activation that highlight NF-κB alone as a signal transduction factor necessary for LPS-mediated toxicity.
PMCID: PMC108099  PMID: 9529092

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