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1.  Cystic fibrosis: addressing the transition from pediatric to adult-oriented health care 
Survival for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) increased to nearly 40 years in 2012 from the early childhood years in the 1940s. Therefore, patients are living long enough to require transition from pediatric CF centers to adult CF centers. The goal of transition is for the young adult to be engaged in the adult health care system in ways that optimize health, maximize potential, and increase quality of life. A successful transition promotes autonomy and responsibility with respect to one’s own health. Currently, there is an information gap in the literature with respect to psychological models that can help guide informed transition processes. In this review, we establish the framework in which transition exists in CF; we review some of the published literature from the last 20 years of experience with transition in CF centers around the world; and we discuss psychological models of pediatric illness that can help to explain the current state of transition to adult-oriented care from pediatric-oriented care and help to formulate new models of ascertaining readiness for transition. Finally, we look at our current knowledge gaps and opportunities for future research endeavors.
PMCID: PMC3864992  PMID: 24376344
cystic fibrosis; transition; adolescent; social-ecological model of AYA readiness for transition; SMART
2.  Bitter and sweet taste receptors regulate human upper respiratory innate immunity 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(3):1393-1405.
Bitter taste receptors (T2Rs) in the human airway detect harmful compounds, including secreted bacterial products. Here, using human primary sinonasal air-liquid interface cultures and tissue explants, we determined that activation of a subset of airway T2Rs expressed in nasal solitary chemosensory cells activates a calcium wave that propagates through gap junctions to the surrounding respiratory epithelial cells. The T2R-dependent calcium wave stimulated robust secretion of antimicrobial peptides into the mucus that was capable of killing a variety of respiratory pathogens. Furthermore, sweet taste receptor (T1R2/3) activation suppressed T2R-mediated antimicrobial peptide secretion, suggesting that T1R2/3-mediated inhibition of T2Rs prevents full antimicrobial peptide release during times of relative health. In contrast, during acute bacterial infection, T1R2/3 is likely deactivated in response to bacterial consumption of airway surface liquid glucose, alleviating T2R inhibition and resulting in antimicrobial peptide secretion. We found that patients with chronic rhinosinusitis have elevated glucose concentrations in their nasal secretions, and other reports have shown that patients with hyperglycemia likewise have elevated nasal glucose levels. These data suggest that increased glucose in respiratory secretions in pathologic states, such as chronic rhinosinusitis or hyperglycemia, promotes tonic activation of T1R2/3 and suppresses T2R-mediated innate defense. Furthermore, targeting T1R2/3-dependent suppression of T2Rs may have therapeutic potential for upper respiratory tract infections.
PMCID: PMC3934184  PMID: 24531552
3.  On Preventing the Extinction of the Physician-Scientist in Pediatric Pulmonology 
While the founders of Pediatric Pulmonology recognized the necessity of research as a vital part of the developing sub specialty, the field has struggled to develop and maintain physician-scientists and investigators. The clinical growth in Pediatric Pulmonology has resulted in significant challenges in career development faced by physician-scientists who aim to establish or maintain independent investigative programs. Such challenges may only be overcome with changes in how both trainees and established physician-scientists in Pediatric Pulmonology are supported.
PMCID: PMC3896875  PMID: 24479109
pediatrics; pulmonology; physician-scientist; training; career development
4.  T2R38 taste receptor polymorphisms underlie susceptibility to upper respiratory infection 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(11):4145-4159.
Innate and adaptive defense mechanisms protect the respiratory system from attack by microbes. Here, we present evidence that the bitter taste receptor T2R38 regulates the mucosal innate defense of the human upper airway. Utilizing immunofluorescent and live cell imaging techniques in polarized primary human sinonasal cells, we demonstrate that T2R38 is expressed in human upper respiratory epithelium and is activated in response to acyl-homoserine lactone quorum-sensing molecules secreted by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other gram-negative bacteria. Receptor activation regulates calcium-dependent NO production, resulting in stimulation of mucociliary clearance and direct antibacterial effects. Moreover, common polymorphisms of the TAS2R38 gene were linked to significant differences in the ability of upper respiratory cells to clear and kill bacteria. Lastly, TAS2R38 genotype correlated with human sinonasal gram-negative bacterial infection. These data suggest that T2R38 is an upper airway sentinel in innate defense and that genetic variation contributes to individual differences in susceptibility to respiratory infection.
PMCID: PMC3484455  PMID: 23041624
5.  Pharmacologic Activation of the Innate Immune System to Prevent Respiratory Viral Infections 
Drugs that can rapidly inhibit respiratory infection from influenza or other respiratory pathogens are needed. One approach is to engage primary innate immune defenses against viral infection, such as activating the IFN pathway. In this study, we report that a small, cell-permeable compound called 5,6-di-methylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) can induce protection against vesicular stomatitis virus in vitro and H1N1 influenza A virus in vitro and in vivo through innate immune activation. Using the mouse C10 bronchial epithelial cell line and primary cultures of nasal epithelial cells, we demonstrate DMXAA activates the IFN regulatory factor-3 pathway leading to production of IFN-β and subsequent high-level induction of IFN-β–dependent proteins, such as myxovirus resistance 1 (Mx1) and 2′,5′-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS1). Mice treated with DMXAA intranasally elevate mRNA/protein expression of Mx1 and OAS1 in the nasal mucosa, trachea, and lung. When challenged intranasally with a lethal dose of H1N1 influenza A virus, DMXAA reduced viral titers in the lungs and protected 80% of mice from death, even when given at 24 hours before infection. These data show that agents, like DMXAA, that can directly activate innate immune pathways, such as the IFN regulatory factor-3/IFN-β system, in respiratory epithelial cells can be used to protect from influenza pneumonia and potentially in other respiratory viral infections. Development of this approach in humans could be valuable for protecting health care professionals and “first responders” in the early stages of viral pandemics or bioterror attacks.
PMCID: PMC3265219  PMID: 21148741
innate immunity; interferon; influenza; pneumonia; bronchial epithelium
6.  Resting and Post Bronchial Challenge Testing Carbon Dioxide Partial Pressure in Individuals with and without Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32464.
There is conflicting evidence about resting carbon dioxide levels in asthmatic individuals. We wanted to determine if transcutaneously measured carbon dioxide levels prior and during bronchial provocation testing differ according to asthma status reflecting dysfunctional breathing.
We investigated active firefighters and policemen by means of a validated questionnaire on respiratory symptoms, spirometry, bronchial challenge testing with methacholine (MCT) and measurement of transcutaneous blood carbon dioxide partial pressure (PtcCO2) at rest prior performing spirometry, one minute and five minutes after termination of MCT. A respiratory physician blinded to the PtcCO2 results assigned a diagnosis of asthma after reviewing the available study data and the files of the workers medical screening program.
The study sample consisted of 128 male and 10 female individuals. Fifteen individuals (11%) had physician-diagnosed asthma. There was no clinically important difference in median PtcCO2 at rest, one and five minutes after recovery from MCT in asthmatics compared to non-asthmatics (35.6 vs 35.7 mmHg, p = 0.466; 34.7 vs 33.4 mmHg, p = 0.245 and 37.4 vs 36.4 mmHg, p = 0.732). The median drop in PtcCO2 during MCT and the increase after MCT was lower in asthmatics compared to non-asthmatics (0.1 vs 3.2 mmHg, p = 0.014 and 1.9 vs 2.9 mmHg, p = 0.025).
PtcCO2 levels at rest prior and during recovery after MCT do not differ in individuals with or without physician diagnosed asthma. The fall and subsequent increase in PtcCO2 levels are higher in non-asthmatics than in asthmatics and seems to be related with increased number of respiratory maneuvers during MCT.
PMCID: PMC3296724  PMID: 22412876
7.  IL-17RA Is Required for CCL2 Expression, Macrophage Recruitment, and Emphysema in Response to Cigarette Smoke 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20333.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is characterized by airspace enlargement and peribronchial lymphoid follicles; however, the immunological mechanisms leading to these pathologic changes remain undefined. Here we show that cigarette smoke is a selective adjuvant that augments in vitro and in vivo Th17, but not Th1, cell differentiation via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Smoke exposed IL-17RA−/− mice failed to induce CCL2 and MMP12 compared to WT mice. Remarkably, in contrast to WT mice, IL-17RA−/− mice failed to develop emphysema after 6 months of cigarette smoke exposure. Taken together, these data demonstrate that cigarette smoke is a potent Th17 adjuvant and that IL-17RA signaling is required for chemokine expression necessary for MMP12 induction and tissue emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3103542  PMID: 21647421
8.  Ectopic Cdx2 Expression in Murine Esophagus Models an Intermediate Stage in the Emergence of Barrett's Esophagus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18280.
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is an intestinal metaplasia that occurs in the setting of chronic acid and bile reflux and is associated with a risk for adenocarcinoma. Expression of intestine-specific transcription factors in the esophagus likely contributes to metaplasia development. Our objective was to explore the effects of an intestine-specific transcription factor when expressed in the mouse esophageal epithelium. Transgenic mice were derived in which the transcription factor Cdx2 is expressed in squamous epithelium using the murine Keratin-14 gene promoter. Effects of the transgene upon cell proliferation and differentiation, gene expression, and barrier integrity were explored. K14-Cdx2 mice express the Cdx2 transgene in esophageal squamous tissues. Cdx2 expression was associated with reduced basal epithelial cell proliferation and altered cell morphology. Ultrastructurally two changes were noted. Cdx2 expression was associated with dilated space between the basal cells and diminished cell-cell adhesion caused by reduced Desmocollin-3 mRNA and protein expression. This compromised epithelial barrier function, as the measured trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER) of the K14-Cdx2 epithelium was significantly reduced compared to controls (1189 Ohm*cm2 ±343.5 to 508 Ohm*cm2±92.48, p = 0.0532). Secondly, basal cells with features of a transitional cell type, intermediate between keratinocytes and columnar Barrett's epithelial cells, were observed. These cells had reduced keratin bundles and increased endoplasmic reticulum levels, suggesting the adoption of secretory-cell features. Moreover, at the ultrastructural level they resembled “Distinctive” cells associated with multilayered epithelium. Treatment of the K14-Cdx2 mice with 5′-Azacytidine elicited expression of BE-associated genes including Cdx1, Krt18, and Slc26a3/Dra, suggesting the phenotype could be advanced under certain conditions. We conclude that ectopic Cdx2 expression in keratinocytes alters cell proliferation, barrier function, and differentiation. These altered cells represent a transitional cell type between normal squamous and columnar BE cells. The K14-Cdx2 mice represent a useful model to study progression from squamous epithelium to BE.
PMCID: PMC3071814  PMID: 21494671
9.  Cystic fibrosis: Exploiting its genetic basis in the hunt for new therapies 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2009;125(2):219-229.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), an anion channel expressed in epithelial cells throughout the body. In the lungs, absence or dysfunction of CFTR results in altered epithelial salt and water transport eventuating in impaired mucociliary clearance, chronic infection and inflammation, and tissue damage. CF lung disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in CF despite the many therapies aimed at reducing it. However, recent technological advances combined with two decades of research driven by the discovery of the CFTR gene have resulted in the development and clinical testing of novel therapies aimed at the principal underlying defect in CF, thereby ushering in a new age of therapy for CF.
PMCID: PMC2823951  PMID: 19903491
Cystic fibrosis; CFTR; Gene therapy; Corrector; Potentiator; Transciptional read-through
10.  Cigarette Smoke Inhibits Airway Epithelial Cell Innate Immune Responses to Bacteria ▿  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(5):2146-2152.
The human upper respiratory tract, including the nasopharynx, is colonized by a diverse array of microorganisms. While the host generally exists in harmony with the commensal microflora, under certain conditions, these organisms may cause local or systemic disease. Respiratory epithelial cells act as local sentinels of the innate immune system, responding to conserved microbial patterns through activation of signal transduction pathways and cytokine production. In addition to colonizing microbes, these cells may also be influenced by environmental agents, including cigarette smoke (CS). Because of the strong relationship among secondhand smoke exposure, bacterial infection, and sinusitis, we hypothesized that components in CS might alter epithelial cell innate immune responses to pathogenic bacteria. We examined the effect of CS condensate (CSC) or extract (CSE) on signal transduction and cytokine production in primary and immortalized epithelial cells of human or murine origin in response to nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae and Staphylococcus aureus. We observed that epithelial production of interleukin-8 (IL-8) and IL-6 in response to bacterial stimulation was significantly inhibited in the presence of CS (P < 0.001 for inhibition by either CSC or CSE). In contrast, epithelial production of beta interferon (IFN-β) was not inhibited. CSC decreased NF-κB activation (P < 0.05) and altered the kinetics of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation in cells exposed to bacteria. Treatment of CSC with antioxidants abrogated CSC-mediated reduction of epithelial IL-8 responses to bacteria (P > 0.05 compared to cells without CSC treatment). These results identify a novel oxidant-mediated immunosuppressive role for CS in epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2863539  PMID: 20194598
11.  Vitamin D3 attenuates Th2 responses to Aspergillus fumigatus mounted by CD4+ T cells from cystic fibrosis patients with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(9):3242-3254.
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is caused by a dominant Th2 immune response to antigens derived from the opportunistic mold Aspergillus, most commonly Aspergillus fumigatus. It occurs in 4%–15% of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF); however, not all patients with CF infected with A. fumigatus develop ABPA. Therefore, we compared cohorts of A. fumigatus–colonized CF patients with and without ABPA to identify factors mediating tolerance versus sensitization. We found that the costimulatory molecule OX40 ligand (OX40L) was critical in driving Th2 responses to A. fumigatus in peripheral CD4+ T cells isolated from patients with ABPA. In contrast, CD4+ T cells from the non-ABPA cohort did not mount enhanced Th2 responses in vitro and contained a higher frequency of TGF-β–expressing regulatory T cells. Heightened Th2 reactivity in the ABPA cohort correlated with lower mean serum vitamin D levels. Further, in vitro addition of 1,25 OH-vitamin D3 substantially reduced DC expression of OX40L and increased DC expression of TGF-β. This in vitro treatment also resulted in increased Treg TGF-β expression and reduced Th2 responses by CD4+ T cells from patients with ABPA. These data provide rationale for a therapeutic trial of vitamin D to prevent or treat ABPA in patients with CF.
PMCID: PMC2929900  PMID: 20714107
12.  IL-22 mediates mucosal host defense against Gram-negative bacterial pneumonia 
Nature medicine  2008;14(3):275-281.
Emerging evidence supports the concept that T helper type 17 (TH17) cells, in addition to mediating autoimmunity, have key roles in mucosal immunity against extracellular pathogens. Interleukin-22 (IL-22) and IL-17A are both effector cytokines produced by the TH17 lineage, and both were crucial for maintaining local control of the Gram-negative pulmonary pathogen, Klebsiella pneumoniae. Although both cytokines regulated CXC chemokines and granulocyte colony–stimulating factor production in the lung, only IL-22 increased lung epithelial cell proliferation and increased transepithelial resistance to injury. These data support the concept that the TH17 cell lineage and its effector molecules have evolved to effect host defense against extracellular pathogens at mucosal sites.
PMCID: PMC2901867  PMID: 18264110
13.  Role of IL-17A, IL-17F, and the IL-17 Receptor in Regulating Growth-Related Oncogene-α and Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor in Bronchial Epithelium: Implications for Airway Inflammation in Cystic Fibrosis1 
IL-17R signaling is critical for pulmonary neutrophil recruitment and host defense against Gram-negative bacteria through the coordinated release of G-CSF and CXC chemokine elaboration. In this study, we show that IL-17R is localized to basal airway cells in human lung tissue, and functional IL-17R signaling occurs on the basolateral surface of human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cells. IL-17A and IL-17F were potent inducers of growth-related oncogene-α and G-CSF in HBE cells, and significant synergism was observed with TNF-α largely due to signaling via TNFRI. The activities of both IL-17A and IL-17F were blocked by a specific anti-IL-17R Ab, but only IL-17A was blocked with a soluble IL-17R, suggesting that cell membrane IL-17R is required for signaling by both IL-17A and IL-17F. Because IL-17A and IL-17F both regulate lung neutrophil recruitment, we measured these molecules as well as the proximal regulator IL-23p19 in the sputum of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) undergoing pulmonary exacerbation. We found significantly elevated levels of these molecules in the sputum of patients with CF who were colonized with Pseudomonas aeruginosa at the time of pulmonary exacerbation, and the levels declined with therapy directed against P. aeruginosa. IL-23 and the downstream cytokines IL-17A and IL-17F are critical molecules for proinflammatory gene expression in HBE cells and are likely involved in the proinflammatory cytokine network involved with CF pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2849297  PMID: 15972674
14.  Identification of the IL-17 Receptor Related Molecule IL-17RC as the Receptor for IL-17F 
The proinflammatory cytokines IL-17A and IL-17F have a high degree of sequence similarity and share many biological properties. Both have been implicated as factors contributing to the progression of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Moreover, reagents that neutralize IL-17A significantly ameliorate disease severity in several mouse models of human disease. IL-17A mediates its effects through interaction with its cognate receptor, the IL-17 receptor (IL-17RA). We report here that the IL-17RA-related molecule, IL-17RC is the receptor for IL-17F. Notably, both IL-17A and IL-17F bind to IL-17RC with high affinity, leading us to suggest that a soluble form of this molecule may serve as an effective therapeutic antagonist of IL-17A and IL-17F. We generated a soluble form of IL-17RC and demonstrate that it effectively blocks binding of both IL-17A and IL-17F, and that it inhibits signaling in response to these cytokines. Collectively, our work indicates that IL-17RC functions as a receptor for both IL-17A and IL-17F and that a soluble version of this protein should be an effective antagonist of IL-17A and IL-17F mediated inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC2849293  PMID: 17911633
15.  Secondhand smoke inhibits both Cl- and K+ conductances in normal human bronchial epithelial cells 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):120.
Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure is an independent risk factor for asthma, rhinosinusitis, and more severe respiratory tract infections in children and adults. Impaired mucociliary clearance with subsequent mucus retention contributes to the pathophysiology of each of these diseases, suggesting that altered epithelial salt and water transport may play an etiological role. To test the hypothesis that SHS would alter epithelial ion transport, we designed a system for in vitro exposure of mature, well-differentiated human bronchial epithelial cells to SHS. We show that SHS exposure inhibits cAMP-stimulated, bumetanide-sensitive anion secretion by 25 to 40% in a time-dependent fashion in these cells. Increasing the amount of carbon monoxide to 100 ppm from 5 ppm did not increase the amount of inhibition, and filtering SHS reduced inhibition significantly. It was determined that SHS inhibited cAMP-dependent apical membrane chloride conductance by 25% and Ba2+-sensitive basolateral membrane potassium conductance by 50%. These data confirm previous findings that cigarette smoke inhibits chloride secretion in a novel model of smoke exposure designed to mimic SHS exposure. They also extend previous findings to demonstrate an effect on basolateral K+ conductance. Therefore, pharmacological agents that increase either apical membrane chloride conductance or basolateral membrane potassium conductance might be of therapeutic benefit in patients with diseases related to SHS exposure.
PMCID: PMC2792224  PMID: 19943936
16.  Serotonylation of Vascular Proteins Important to Contraction 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5682.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) was named for its source (sero-) and ability to modify smooth muscle tone (tonin). The biological effects of 5-HT are believed to be carried out by stimulation of serotonin receptors at the plasma membrane. Serotonin has recently been shown to be synthesized in vascular smooth muscle and taken up from external sources, placing 5-HT inside the cell. The enzyme transglutaminase uses primary amines such as 5-HT to covalently modify proteins on glutamine residues. We tested the hypothesis that 5-HT is a substrate for transglutaminase in arterial vascular smooth muscle, with protein serotonylation having physiological function.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The model was the rat aorta and cultured aortic smooth muscle cells. Western analysis demonstrated that transglutaminase II was present in vascular tissue, and transglutaminase activity was observed as a cystamine-inhibitable incorporation of the free amine pentylamine-biotin into arterial proteins. Serotonin-biotin was incorporated into α -actin, β-actin, γ-actin, myosin heavy chain and filamin A as shown through tandem mass spectrometry. Using antibodies directed against biotin or 5-HT, immunoprecipitation and immunocytochemistry confirmed serotonylation of smooth muscle α–actin. Importantly, the α-actin-dependent process of arterial isometric contraction to 5-HT was reduced by cystamine.
5-HT covalently modifies proteins integral to contractility and the cytoskeleton. These findings suggest new mechanisms of action for 5-HT in vascular smooth muscle and consideration for intracellular effects of primary amines.
PMCID: PMC2682564  PMID: 19479059
17.  In Vivo Readout of CFTR Function: Ratiometric Measurement of CFTR-Dependent Secretion by Individual, Identifiable Human Sweat Glands 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77114.
To assess CFTR function in vivo, we developed a bioassay that monitors and compares CFTR-dependent and CFTR-independent sweat secretion in parallel for multiple (∼50) individual, identified glands in each subject. Sweating was stimulated by intradermally injected agonists and quantified by optically measuring spherical sweat bubbles in an oil-layer that contained dispersed, water soluble dye particles that partitioned into the sweat bubbles, making them highly visible. CFTR-independent secretion (M-sweat) was stimulated with methacholine, which binds to muscarinic receptors and elevates cytosolic calcium. CFTR-dependent secretion (C-sweat) was stimulated with a β-adrenergic cocktail that elevates cytosolic cAMP while blocking muscarinic receptors. A C-sweat/M-sweat ratio was determined on a gland-by-gland basis to compensate for differences unrelated to CFTR function, such as gland size. The average ratio provides an approximately linear readout of CFTR function: the heterozygote ratio is ∼0.5 the control ratio and for CF subjects the ratio is zero. During assay development, we measured C/M ratios in 6 healthy controls, 4 CF heterozygotes, 18 CF subjects and 4 subjects with ‘CFTR-related’ conditions. The assay discriminated all groups clearly. It also revealed consistent differences in the C/M ratio among subjects within groups. We hypothesize that these differences reflect, at least in part, levels of CFTR expression, which are known to vary widely. When C-sweat rates become very low the C/M ratio also tended to decrease; we hypothesize that this nonlinearity reflects ductal fluid absorption. We also discovered that M-sweating potentiates the subsequent C-sweat response. We then used potentiation as a surrogate for drugs that can increase CFTR-dependent secretion. This bioassay provides an additional method for assessing CFTR function in vivo, and is well suited for within-subject tests of systemic, CFTR-directed therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3811985  PMID: 24204751
18.  Mechanistic Model of Rothia mucilaginosa Adaptation toward Persistence in the CF Lung, Based on a Genome Reconstructed from Metagenomic Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64285.
The impaired mucociliary clearance in individuals with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) enables opportunistic pathogens to colonize CF lungs. Here we show that Rothia mucilaginosa is a common CF opportunist that was present in 83% of our patient cohort, almost as prevalent as Pseudomonas aeruginosa (89%). Sequencing of lung microbial metagenomes identified unique R. mucilaginosa strains in each patient, presumably due to evolution within the lung. The de novo assembly of a near-complete R. mucilaginosa (CF1E) genome illuminated a number of potential physiological adaptations to the CF lung, including antibiotic resistance, utilization of extracellular lactate, and modification of the type I restriction-modification system. Metabolic characteristics predicted from the metagenomes suggested R. mucilaginosa have adapted to live within the microaerophilic surface of the mucus layer in CF lungs. The results also highlight the remarkable evolutionary and ecological similarities of many CF pathogens; further examination of these similarities has the potential to guide patient care and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3667864  PMID: 23737977
19.  MiR-101 and miR-144 Regulate the Expression of the CFTR Chloride Channel in the Lung 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50837.
The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR) is a chloride channel that plays a critical role in the lung by maintaining fluid homeostasis. Absence or malfunction of CFTR leads to Cystic Fibrosis, a disease characterized by chronic infection and inflammation. We recently reported that air pollutants such as cigarette smoke and cadmium negatively regulate the expression of CFTR by affecting several steps in the biogenesis of CFTR protein. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently received a great deal of attention as both biomarkers and therapeutics due to their ability to regulate multiple genes. Here, we show that cigarette smoke and cadmium up-regulate the expression of two miRNAs (miR-101 and miR-144) that are predicted to target CFTR in human bronchial epithelial cells. When premature miR-101 and miR-144 were transfected in human airway epithelial cells, they directly targeted the CFTR 3′UTR and suppressed the expression of the CFTR protein. Since miR-101 was highly up-regulated by cigarette smoke in vitro, we investigated whether such increase also occurred in vivo. Mice exposed to cigarette smoke for 4 weeks demonstrated an up-regulation of miR-101 and suppression of CFTR protein in their lungs. Finally, we show that miR-101 is highly expressed in lung samples from patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) when compared to control patients. Taken together, these results suggest that chronic cigarette smoking up-regulates miR-101 and that this miRNA could contribute to suppression of CFTR in the lungs of COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3511328  PMID: 23226399
20.  Sputum Biomarkers and the Prediction of Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42748.
Lung function, acute pulmonary exacerbations (APE), and weight are the best clinical predictors of survival in cystic fibrosis (CF); however, underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Biomarkers of current disease state predictive of future outcomes might identify mechanisms and provide treatment targets, trial endpoints and objective clinical monitoring tools. Such CF-specific biomarkers have previously been elusive. Using observational and validation cohorts comprising 97 non-transplanted consecutively-recruited adult CF patients at the Intermountain Adult CF Center, University of Utah, we identified biomarkers informative of current disease and predictive of future clinical outcomes. Patients represented the majority of sputum producers. They were recruited March 2004-April 2007 and followed through May 2011. Sputum biomarker concentrations were measured and clinical outcomes meticulously recorded for a median 5.9 (interquartile range 5.0 to 6.6) years to study associations between biomarkers and future APE and time-to-lung transplantation or death. After multivariate modeling, only high mobility group box-1 protein (HMGB-1, mean = 5.84 [log ng/ml], standard deviation [SD] = 1.75) predicted time-to-first APE (hazard ratio [HR] per log-unit HMGB-1 = 1.56, p-value = 0.005), number of future APE within 5 years (0.338 APE per log-unit HMGB-1, p<0.001 by quasi-Poisson regression) and time-to-lung transplantation or death (HR = 1.59, p = 0.02). At APE onset, sputum granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF, mean 4.8 [log pg/ml], SD = 1.26) was significantly associated with APE-associated declines in lung function (−10.8 FEV1% points per log-unit GM-CSF, p<0.001 by linear regression). Evaluation of validation cohorts produced similar results that passed tests of mutual consistency. In CF sputum, high HMGB-1 predicts incidence and recurrence of APE and survival, plausibly because it mediates long-term airway inflammation. High APE-associated GM-CSF identifies patients with large acute declines in FEV1%, possibly providing a laboratory-based objective decision-support tool for determination of an APE diagnosis. These biomarkers are potential CF reporting tools and treatment targets for slowing long-term progression and reducing short-term severity.
PMCID: PMC3416785  PMID: 22916155
21.  A Pharmacologic Approach to Acquired Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Dysfunction in Smoking Related Lung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39809.
Mucus stasis in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality. Potentiators of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) activity pharmacologically enhance CFTR function; ivacaftor is one such agent approved to treat CF patients with the G551D-CFTR gating mutation. CFTR potentiators may also be useful for other diseases of mucus stasis, including COPD.
Methods and Findings
In primary human bronchial epithelial cells, exposure to cigarette smoke extract diminished CFTR-mediated anion transport (65.8±0.2% of control, P<0.005) and mucociliary transport (0.17±0.05 µm/sec vs. 2.4±0.47 µm/sec control, P<0.05) by reducing airway surface liquid depth (7.3±0.6 µm vs. 13.0±0.6 µm control, P<0.005) and augmenting mucus expression (by 64%, P<0.05) without altering transepithelial resistance. Smokers with or without COPD had reduced CFTR activity measured by nasal potential difference compared to age-matched non-smokers (−6.3±1.4 and −8.0±2.0 mV, respectively vs. −15.2±2.7 mV control, each P<0.005, n = 12–14/group); this CFTR decrement was associated with symptoms of chronic bronchitis as measured by the Breathlessness Cough and Sputum Score (r = 0.30, P<0.05) despite controlling for smoking (r = 0.31, P<0.05). Ivacaftor activated CFTR-dependent chloride transport in non-CF epithelia and ameliorated the functional CFTR defect induced by smoke to 185±36% of non-CF control (P<0.05), thereby increasing airway surface liquid (from 7.3±0.6 µm to 10.1±0.4 µm, P<0.005) and mucociliary transport (from 0.27±0.11 µm/s to 2.7±0.28 µm/s, P<0.005).
Cigarette smoking reduces CFTR activity and is causally related to reduced mucus transport in smokers due to inhibition of CFTR dependent fluid transport. These effects are reversible by the CFTR potentiator ivacaftor, representing a potential therapeutic strategy to augment mucociliary clearance in patients with smoking related lung disease.
PMCID: PMC3387224  PMID: 22768130
22.  Lipoxin A4 Stimulates Calcium-Activated Chloride Currents and Increases Airway Surface Liquid Height in Normal and Cystic Fibrosis Airway Epithelia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37746.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease characterised by a deficit in epithelial Cl− secretion which in the lung leads to airway dehydration and a reduced Airway Surface Liquid (ASL) height. The endogenous lipoxin LXA4 is a member of the newly identified eicosanoids playing a key role in ending the inflammatory process. Levels of LXA4 are reported to be decreased in the airways of patients with CF. We have previously shown that in normal human bronchial epithelial cells, LXA4 produced a rapid and transient increase in intracellular Ca2+. We have investigated, the effect of LXA4 on Cl− secretion and the functional consequences on ASL generation in bronchial epithelial cells obtained from CF and non-CF patient biopsies and in bronchial epithelial cell lines. We found that LXA4 stimulated a rapid intracellular Ca2+ increase in all of the different CF bronchial epithelial cells tested. In non-CF and CF bronchial epithelia, LXA4 stimulated whole-cell Cl− currents which were inhibited by NPPB (calcium-activated Cl− channel inhibitor), BAPTA-AM (chelator of intracellular Ca2+) but not by CFTRinh-172 (CFTR inhibitor). We found, using confocal imaging, that LXA4 increased the ASL height in non-CF and in CF airway bronchial epithelia. The LXA4 effect on ASL height was sensitive to bumetanide, an inhibitor of transepithelial Cl− secretion. The LXA4 stimulation of intracellular Ca2+, whole-cell Cl− currents, conductances and ASL height were inhibited by Boc-2, a specific antagonist of the ALX/FPR2 receptor. Our results provide, for the first time, evidence for a novel role of LXA4 in the stimulation of intracellular Ca2+ signalling leading to Ca2+-activated Cl− secretion and enhanced ASL height in non-CF and CF bronchial epithelia.
PMCID: PMC3360607  PMID: 22662206
23.  Pulmonary Function and Incident Bronchitis and Asthma in Children: A Community-Based Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32477.
Previous studies revealed that reduction of airway caliber in infancy might increase the risks for wheezing and asthma. However, the evidence for the predictive effects of pulmonary function on respiratory health in children was still inconsistent.
We conducted a population-based prospective cohort study among children in 14 Taiwanese communities. There were 3,160 children completed pulmonary function tests in 2007 and follow-up questionnaire in 2009. Poisson regression models were performed to estimate the effect of pulmonary function on the development of bronchitis and asthma.
After adjustment for potential confounders, pulmonary function indices consistently showed protective effects on respiratory diseases in children. The incidence rate ratios of bronchitis and asthma were 0.86 (95% CI 0.79–0.95) and 0.91 (95% CI 0.82–0.99) for forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1). Similar adverse effects of maximal mid-expiratory flow (MMEF) were also observed on bronchitis (RR = 0.73, 95% CI 0.67–0.81) and asthma (RR = 0.85, 95% CI 0.77–0.93). We found significant decreasing trends in categorized FEV1 (p for trend = 0.02) and categories of MMEF (p for trend = 0.01) for incident bronchitis. Significant modification effects of traffic-related air pollution were noted for FEV1 and MMEF on bronchitis and also for MMEF on asthma.
Children with high pulmonary function would have lower risks on the development of bronchitis and asthma. The protective effect of high pulmonary function would be modified by traffic-related air pollution exposure.
PMCID: PMC3311633  PMID: 22457716
24.  Effect of Temperature on Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease and Infections: A Replicated Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27784.
Progressive lung disease accounts for the majority of morbidity and mortality observed in cystic fibrosis (CF). Beyond secondhand smoke exposure and socio-economic status, the effect of specific environmental factors on CF lung function is largely unknown.
Multivariate regression was used to assess correlation between specific environmental factors, the presence of pulmonary pathogens, and variation in lung function using subjects enrolled in the U.S. CF Twin and Sibling Study (CFTSS: n = 1378). Significant associations were tested for replication in the U.S. CF Foundation Patient Registry (CFF: n = 16439), the Australian CF Data Registry (ACFDR: n = 1801), and prospectively ascertained subjects from Australia/New Zealand (ACFBAL: n = 167).
In CFTSS subjects, the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (OR = 1.06 per °F; p<0.001) was associated with warmer annual ambient temperatures. This finding was independently replicated in the CFF (1.02; p<0.001), ACFDR (1.05; p = 0.002), and ACFBAL (1.09; p = 0.003) subjects. Warmer temperatures (−0.34 points per °F; p = 0.005) and public insurance (−6.43 points; p<0.001) were associated with lower lung function in the CFTSS subjects. These findings were replicated in the CFF subjects (temperature: −0.31; p<0.001; insurance: −9.11; p<0.001) and similar in the ACFDR subjects (temperature: −0.23; p = 0.057). The association between temperature and lung function was minimally influenced by P. aeruginosa. Similarly, the association between temperature and P. aeruginosa was largely independent of lung function.
Ambient temperature is associated with prevalence of P. aeruginosa and lung function in four independent samples of CF patients from two continents.
PMCID: PMC3220679  PMID: 22125624
25.  The Receptor for Urokinase Regulates TLR2 Mediated Inflammatory Responses in Neutrophils 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25843.
The urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored membrane protein, regulates urokinase (uPA) protease activity, chemotaxis, cell-cell interactions, and phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. uPAR expression is increased in cytokine or bacteria activated cell populations, including macrophages and monocytes. However, it is unclear if uPAR has direct involvement in the response of inflammatory cells, such as neutrophils and macrophages, to Toll like receptor (TLR) stimulation. In this study, we found that uPAR is required for optimal neutrophil activation after TLR2, but not TLR4 stimulation. We found that the expression of TNF-α and IL-6 induced by TLR2 engagement in uPAR-/- neutrophils was less than that in uPAR+/+ (WT) neutrophils. Pretreatment of neutrophils with PI-PLC, which cleaves GPI moieties, significantly decreased TLR2 induced expression of TNF-α in WT neutrophils, but demonstrated only marginal effects on TNF-α expression in PAM treated uPAR-/- neutrophils. IκB-α degradation and NF-κB activation were not different in uPAR-/- or WT neutrophils after TLR2 stimulation. However, uPAR is required for optimal p38 MAPK activation after TLR2 engagement. Consistent with the in vitro findings that uPAR modulates TLR2 engagement induced neutrophil activation, we found that pulmonary and systemic inflammation induced by TLR2, but not TLR4 stimulation is reduced in uPAR-/- mice compared to WT counterparts. Therefore, our data suggest that neutrophil associated uPAR could be a potential target for treating acute inflammation, sepsis, and organ injury related to severe bacterial and other microbial infections in which TLR2 engagement plays a major role.
PMCID: PMC3187811  PMID: 21998707

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