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1.  Systemic Steroid Exposure Is Associated with Differential Methylation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Systemic glucocorticoids are used therapeutically to treat a variety of medical conditions. Epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation may reflect exposure to glucocorticoids and may be involved in mediating the responses and side effects associated with these medications.
Objectives: To test the hypothesis that differences in DNA methylation are associated with current systemic steroid use.
Methods: We obtained DNA methylation data at 27,578 CpG sites in 14,475 genes throughout the genome in two large, independent cohorts: the International COPD Genetics Network (ndiscovery = 1,085) and the Boston Early Onset COPD study (nreplication = 369). Sites were tested for association with current systemic steroid use using generalized linear mixed models.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 511 sites demonstrated significant differential methylation by systemic corticosteroid use in all three of our primary models. Pyrosequencing validation confirmed robust differential methylation at CpG sites annotated to genes such as SLC22A18, LRP3, HIPK3, SCNN1A, FXYD1, IRF7, AZU1, SIT1, GPR97, ABHD16B, and RABGEF1. Functional annotation clustering demonstrated significant enrichment in intrinsic membrane components, hemostasis and coagulation, cellular ion homeostasis, leukocyte and lymphocyte activation and chemotaxis, protein transport, and responses to nutrients.
Conclusions: Our analyses suggest that systemic steroid use is associated with site-specific differential methylation throughout the genome. Differentially methylated CpG sites were found in biologically plausible and previously unsuspected pathways; these genes and pathways may be relevant in the development of novel targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3622442  PMID: 23065012
DNA methylation; glucocorticoids; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
2.  PGE2 Desensitizes β-Agonist Effect on Human Lung Fibroblast-Mediated Collagen Gel Contraction through Upregulating PDE4 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:145197.
In the current study, we investigated the effect of a long-acting β-agonist (salmeterol) and a phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor (cilomilast) on human lung fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction. Higher concentrations of salmeterol (10−7 and 10−6 M) inhibited fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction. No effect was observed with cilomilast alone (up to 10−5 M). In the presence of 10−8 M salmeterol, however, cilomilast could significantly inhibit fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction in a concentration-dependent manner (10−7~10−5 M). Blockade of endogenous PGE2 by indomethacin further potentiated the inhibitory effect of salmeterol on fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction, but it did not affect cilomilast's effect. Pretreatment with PGE2 abolished the inhibitory effect of salmeterol, but it potentiated the inhibitory effect of cilomilast on fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction. Finally, indomethacin slightly inhibited PDE4C expression, while PGE2 stimulated the expression of PDE4A and -4C in human lung fibroblasts. These findings suggest that long-acting β-agonist and PDE4 inhibitor have a synergistic effect in regulating fibroblast tissue repair functions and that PGE2 can modulate the effect of β-agonist and PDE4 inhibitor at least in part through the mechanism of regulating PDE4 expression.
PMCID: PMC3817676  PMID: 24227907
3.  Cigarette smoking behaviors and time since quitting are associated with differential DNA methylation across the human genome 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(13):3073-3082.
The impact of cigarette smoking can persist for extended periods following smoking cessation and may involve epigenetic reprogramming. Changes in DNA methylation associated with smoking may help to identify molecular pathways that contribute to the latency between exposure and disease onset. Cross-sectional cohort data from subjects in the International COPD Genetics Network (n = 1085) and the Boston Early-Onset COPD study (n = 369) were analyzed as the discovery and replication cohorts, respectively. Genome-wide methylation data on 27 578 CpG sites in 14 475 genes were obtained on DNA from peripheral blood leukocytes using the Illumina HumanMethylation27K Beadchip in both cohorts. We identified 15 sites significantly associated with current smoking, 2 sites associated with cumulative smoke exposure, and, within the subset of former smokers, 3 sites associated with time since quitting cigarettes. Two loci, factor II receptor-like 3 (F2RL3) and G-protein-coupled receptor 15 (GPR15), were significantly associated in all three analyses and were validated by pyrosequencing. These findings (i) identify a novel locus (GPR15) associated with cigarette smoking and (ii) suggest the existence of dynamic, site-specific methylation changes in response to smoking which may contribute to the extended risks associated with cigarette smoking that persist after cessation.
PMCID: PMC3373248  PMID: 22492999
4.  Association of cigarette smoking and CRP levels with DNA methylation in α-1 antitrypsin deficiency 
Epigenetics  2012;7(7):720-728.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency and tobacco smoking are confirmed risk factors for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. We hypothesized that variable DNA methylation would be associated with smoking and inflammation, as reflected by the level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in AAT-deficient subjects. Methylation levels of 1,411 autosomal CpG sites from the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I were analyzed in 316 subjects. Associations of five smoking behaviors and CRP levels with individual CpG sites and average methylation levels were assessed using non-parametric testing, linear regression and linear mixed effect models, with and without adjustment for age and gender. Univariate linear regression analysis revealed that methylation levels of 16 CpG sites significantly associated with ever-smoking status. A CpG site in the TGFBI gene was the only site associated with ever-smoking after adjustment for age and gender. No highly significant associations existed between age at smoking initiation, pack-years smoked, duration of smoking, and time since quitting smoking as predictors of individual CpG site methylation levels. However, ever-smoking and younger age at smoking initiation associated with lower methylation level averaged across all sites. DNA methylation at CpG sites in the RUNX3, JAK3 and KRT1 genes associated with CRP levels. The most significantly associated CpG sites with gender and age mapped to the CASP6 and FZD9 genes, respectively. In summary, this study identified multiple potential candidate CpG sites associated with ever-smoking and CRP level in AAT-deficient subjects. Phenotypic variability in Mendelian diseases may be due to epigenetic factors.
PMCID: PMC3414392  PMID: 22617718
68kDa (TGFBI); C-Reactive Protein (CRP); Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I; alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency; beta-induced; methylation; smoking behaviors; transforming growth factor
5.  Effect of budesonide on fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction and degradation 
The balance between production and degradation of extracellular matrix is crucial in maintaining normal tissue structure. This study was designed to investigate the effect of budesonide on fibroblast-mediated tissue repair and remodeling.
Using human fetal lung fibroblasts in a three-dimensional collagen gel culture system, we investigated the effect of budesonide (1-1000 nM) on collagen gel contraction and degradation in the presence or absence of Inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor α; 5 ng/mL each) and, in order to activate latent proteases, serine protease trypsin 0.25 μg/mL. The effects of budesonide on metalloproteinase production and activation were also investigated.
Inflammatory cytokines significantly inhibited collagen gel contraction mediated by lung fibroblasts. Budesonide counteracted the effect of cytokines in a concentration-dependent manner (to 50%, P< 0.01). Budesonide 100 nM almost completely inhibited the release and mRNA expression of metalloproteinase-1, metalloproteinase-3, and metalloproteinase-9 induced by the cytokines (P< 0.05). Exposure to the cytokines plus trypsin increased collagen degradation and conversion of the metalloproteinases to lower molecular weight forms corresponding to their active forms. Budesonide blocked both enhanced collagen degradation (P< 0.01) and suppressed trypsin-mediated conversion of cytokine-induced metalloproteinase-9 and metalloproteinase-3 to lower molecular weight forms. Similar effects were observed with dexamethasone 1 μM, suggesting a class effect.
These findings demonstrate that budesonide directly modulates contraction of collagen gels and can decrease collagen degradation under Inflammatory conditions. The mechanism of this effect is through suppressing gene expression, release, and activation of metalloproteinases. By modulating the release and activity of metalloproteinases, inhaled budesonide may be able to modify airway tissue repair and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3617814  PMID: 23576875
metalloproteinase; budesonide; tissue remodeling
6.  Natural Histories of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Concepts relating to the natural history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) arise most importantly from the classic study of Fletcher and colleagues (The Natural History of Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, Oxford University Press, New York, 1976). This study, which evaluated working English men over 8 years, was used to construct a proposed life-long natural history. Although this is a classic study that has greatly advanced understanding of COPD, it has a number of limitations. Its duration is relatively short compared with the duration of COPD, so it is more cross-sectional than longitudinal. It was unable to distinguish among varied “natural histories.” It assessed primarily the FEV1, and the natural history of other features of COPD is largely undescribed. With advances in understanding the clinical features of COPD and with the development of evaluating new tools to assess patients with COPD, longitudinal studies evaluating COPD in novel ways and for longer durations are needed.
PMCID: PMC2720106  PMID: 19056710
lung function; severity; symptoms; biomarkers
7.  Cigarette Smoke Inhibits Alveolar Repair 
Classically, emphysema has been believed to develop when mediators of tissue injury exceed protective mechanisms within the lung. Evidence also supports the concept that tissue destruction represents a balance between tissue injury and tissue repair. In this context, cigarette smoke is directly toxic to cells within the lung and can impair the repair functions of fibroblasts, epithelial cells, and mesenchymal cells. This may occur in the absence of overt cytotoxicity and may result from alteration of selected biochemical pathways. A variety of repair functions can be affected, including chemotaxis, proliferation, production of extracellular matrix, and remodeling of extracellular matrix. Finally, cigarette smoke can damage DNA but can also compromise apoptosis. As a result, DNA repair mechanisms can be initiated, leading to recovery of cells that potentially contain somatic cell mutations. This pathway may contribute not only to the development of cancer but to the persistent abnormalities in tissue structure that characterize chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Understanding the mechanisms that mediate normal tissue repair and understanding the bases for altered tissue repair in the face of cigarette smoking offer new opportunities designed to address the structural alterations that characterize chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
PMCID: PMC2647656  PMID: 17065377
alveolarization; emphysema; remodeling; repair
8.  Efficacy of Varenicline to Prompt Quit Attempts in Smokers Not Currently Trying to Quit: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2011;13(10):955-964.
Nicotine replacement therapy to aid smoking reduction increases the probability of a future quit attempt among smokers not currently planning to quit smoking. We tested whether varenicline, a partial nicotine agonist, would also increase future quit attempts.
This randomized, placebo-controlled trial recruited 218 smokers who were interested in quitting but had no plans to quit in the next month. Participants used varenicline (2 mg/day) or placebo for 2–8 weeks plus received brief counseling on methods to reduce cigarettes/day. The primary measure was the incidence of a quit attempt within 6 months of study entry. Secondary measures were point prevalence abstinence, motivation to stop smoking, and reduction in cigarettes/day.
Varenicline increased the incidence of a quit attempt more than placebo at the Nebraska site (73% vs. 41%; p < .001) but not at the Vermont site (45% vs. 51%; p = .45). Varenicline increased most other measures of quit attempts, motivation and abstinence, independent of site. The beneficial effects of varenicline in quit attempts appeared to be mediated by greater reductions in cigarettes/day, dependence, craving, and cigarette satisfaction. Varenicline had a greater effect on quit attempts in less-dependent smokers, in minority smokers, and in those who had less prior cessation or reduction activity. Adverse events were minimal.
Varenicline increased quit attempts in smokers who are not currently trying to quit at one of the two study sites and improved most all secondary outcomes independent of site. This appeared to be due to decreasing cigarettes/day and level of dependence.
PMCID: PMC3218639  PMID: 21652735
9.  Genome-wide association study of smoking behaviors in COPD patients 
Thorax  2011;66(10):894-902.
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for COPD and COPD severity. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified numerous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) and a Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase (DBH) locus associated with smoking cessation in multiple populations.
To identify SNPs associated with lifetime average and current CPD, age at smoking initiation, and smoking cessation in COPD subjects.
GWAS were conducted in 4 independent cohorts encompassing 3,441 ever-smoking COPD subjects (GOLD stage II or higher). Untyped SNPs were imputed using HapMap (phase II) panel. Results from all cohorts were meta-analyzed.
Several SNPs near the HLA region on chromosome 6p21 and in an intergenic region on chromosome 2q21 showed associations with age at smoking initiation, both with the lowest p=2×10−7. No SNPs were associated with lifetime average CPD, current CPD or smoking cessation with p<10−6. Nominally significant associations with candidate SNPs within alpha-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors 3/5 (CHRNA3/CHRNA5; e.g. p=0.00011 for SNP rs1051730) and Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6; e.g. p=2.78×10−5 for a nonsynonymous SNP rs1801272) regions were observed for lifetime average CPD, however only CYP2A6 showed evidence of significant association with current CPD. A candidate SNP (rs3025343) in the DBH was significantly (p=0.015) associated with smoking cessation.
We identified two candidate regions associated with age at smoking initiation in COPD subjects. Associations of CHRNA3/CHRNA5 and CYP2A6 loci with CPD and DBH with smoking cessation are also likely of importance in the smoking behaviors of COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3302576  PMID: 21685187
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Genome Wide Association study (GWAS); smoking behaviors; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP)
10.  Effects of inhaled corticosteroids on airway inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation in the small airways. The effect of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) on lung inflammation in COPD remains uncertain. We sought to determine the effects of ICS on inflammatory indices in bronchial biopsies and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with COPD.
We searched Medline, Embase, Cinahl, and the Cochrane database for randomized, controlled clinical trials that used bronchial biopsies and bronchoalveolar lavage to evaluate the effects of ICS in stable COPD. For each chosen study, we calculated the mean differences in the concentrations of inflammatory cells before and after treatment in both intervention and control groups. These values were then converted into standardized mean differences (SMD) to accommodate the differences in patient selection, clinical treatment, and biochemical procedures that were employed across the original studies. If significant heterogeneity was present (P < 0.1), then a random effects model was used to pool the original data; otherwise, a fixed effects model was used.
We identified eight original studies that met the inclusion criteria. Four studies used bronchial biopsies (n =102 participants) and showed that ICS were effective in reducing CD4 and CD8 cell counts (SMD, −0.52 units and −0.66 units, 95% confidence interval). The five studies used bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (n =309), which together showed that ICS reduced neutrophil and lymphocyte counts (SMD, −0.64 units and −0.64 units, 95% confidence interval). ICS on the other hand significantly increased macrophage counts (SMD, 0.68 units, 95% confidence interval) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.
ICS has important immunomodulatory effects in airways with COPD that may explain its beneficial effect on exacerbations and enhanced risk of pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC3459653  PMID: 23055709
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; bronchial biopsies; bronchoalveolar lavage; inhaled corticosteroids; inflammation; inflammatory markers; meta-analysis
11.  Efficacy and Tolerability of Budesonide/Formoterol in One Hydrofluoroalkane Pressurized Metered-Dose Inhaler in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Drugs  2012;69(5):549-565.
Background: Combination therapy with a long-acting bronchodilator and an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) is recommended in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who have frequent exacerbations. The efficacy and tolerability of the combination of budesonide/formoterol have been demonstrated in patients with COPD when administered via the dry powder inhaler (DPI) in a 1-year study and when administered via the hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) pressurized metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) in a 6-month study.
Objective: This study assessed the long-term efficacy and tolerability of budesonide/formoterol HFA pMDI in patients with moderate to very severe COPD.
Methods: This was a 12-month, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group, active- and placebo-controlled, multicentre study (NCT00206167) of 1964 patients aged ≥40 years with moderate to very severe COPD conducted from 2005 to 2007 at 237 sites in the US, Europe and Mexico. After 2 weeks of treatment based on previous therapy (ICSs, short-acting bronchodilators allowed), patients received one of the following treatments twice daily: budesonide/formoterol pMDI 160/4.5 μg × two inhalations (320/9 μg); budesonide/formoterol pMDI 80/4.5 μg × two inhalations (160/9 μg); formoterol DPI 4.5 μg × two inhalations (9 μg); or placebo.
Main outcome measures: The co-primary efficacy variables were pre-dose forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and 1-hour post-dose FEV1.
Results: Budesonide/formoterol 320/9 μg demonstrated greater improvements in pre-dose FEV1 versus formoterol (p = 0.008), and both budesonide/formoterol doses demonstrated greater improvements in 1-hour post-dose FEV1 versus placebo (p < 0.001). The rate of COPD exacerbations was lower in both budesonide/formoterol groups compared with formoterol and placebo (p ≤ 0.004). Both budesonide/formoterol doses were more effective than placebo (p ≤ 0.006) for controlling dyspnoea and improving health status (St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire). All treatments were generally well tolerated. The incidence of pneumonia was not different for active (3.4–4.0%) and placebo (5.0%) groups.
Conclusions: Budesonide/formoterol pMDI (320/9 μg and 160/9 μg) improved pulmonary function and reduced symptoms and exacerbations over 1 year in patients with moderate to very severe COPD. Only budesonide/formoterol pMDI 320/9 μg demonstrated greater efficacy for both co-primary variables compared with formoterol DPI 9 μg. Both budesonide/formoterol pMDI dosages were well tolerated relative to formoterol and placebo.
Electronic Supplementary Material
Supplementary material is available for this article at 10.2165/00003495-200969050-00004 and is accessible for authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3580134  PMID: 19368417
12.  Examining fatigue in COPD: development, validity and reliability of a modified version of FACIT-F scale 
Fatigue is a disruptive symptom that inhibits normal functional performance of COPD patients in daily activities. The availability of a short, simple, reliable and valid scale would improve assessment of the characteristics and influence of fatigue in COPD.
At baseline, 2107 COPD patients from the ECLIPSE cohort completed the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Fatigue (FACIT-F) scale. We used well-structured classic method, the principal components analysis (PCA) and Rasch analysis for structurally examining the 13-item FACIT-F.
Four items were less able to capture fatigue characteristics in COPD and were deleted. PCA was applied to the remaining 9 items of the modified FACIT-F and resulted in three interpretable dimensions: i) general (5 items); ii) functional ability (2 items); and iii) psychosocial fatigue (2 items). The modified FACIT-F had high internal consistency (Cronbach's α = 0.91) and it did not fit a uni-dimensional Rasch model, confirming the prior output from the PCA. The correlations between total score and each dimension were ≥ 0.64 and within dimensions ≥0.43 (p < 0.001 for all).
The original and modified FACIT-F had significant convergent validity; its scores were associated with SGRQ total score (0.69 and 0.7) and mMRC dyspnoea scores (0.48 and 0.47), (p = <0.001 for all). The scale had meaningful discriminating ability in identifying patients with poor exercise performance and more depressive symptoms.
The original and modified FACIT-F are valid and reliable scales in COPD. The modified version is shorter and measures not only total fatigue but also its sub-components in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3491053  PMID: 22913289
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Fatigue; Exercise capacity; Health status
13.  Persistent Systemic Inflammation is Associated with Poor Clinical Outcomes in COPD: A Novel Phenotype 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37483.
Because chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous condition, the identification of specific clinical phenotypes is key to developing more effective therapies. To explore if the persistence of systemic inflammation is associated with poor clinical outcomes in COPD we assessed patients recruited to the well-characterized ECLIPSE cohort (NCT00292552).
Methods and Findings
Six inflammatory biomarkers in peripheral blood (white blood cells (WBC) count and CRP, IL-6, IL-8, fibrinogen and TNF-α levels) were quantified in 1,755 COPD patients, 297 smokers with normal spirometry and 202 non-smoker controls that were followed-up for three years. We found that, at baseline, 30% of COPD patients did not show evidence of systemic inflammation whereas 16% had persistent systemic inflammation. Even though pulmonary abnormalities were similar in these two groups, persistently inflamed patients during follow-up had significantly increased all-cause mortality (13% vs. 2%, p<0.001) and exacerbation frequency (1.5 (1.5) vs. 0.9 (1.1) per year, p<0.001) compared to non-inflamed ones. As a descriptive study our results show associations but do not prove causality. Besides this, the inflammatory response is complex and we studied only a limited panel of biomarkers, albeit they are those investigated by the majority of previous studies and are often and easily measured in clinical practice.
Overall, these results identify a novel systemic inflammatory COPD phenotype that may be the target of specific research and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3356313  PMID: 22624038
14.  Systemic inflammatory profile and response to anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):12.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by progressive worsening of airflow limitation associated with abnormally inflamed airways in older smokers. Despite correlative evidence for a role for tumor necrosis factor-alpha in the pathogenesis of COPD, the anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha, infliximab did not show clinical efficacy in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase II clinical trial. This study sought to evaluate the systemic inflammatory profile associated with COPD and to assess the impact of tumor necrosis factor neutralization on systemic inflammation.
Serum samples (n = 234) from the phase II trial were collected at baseline and after 24 weeks of placebo or infliximab. Additionally, baseline serum samples were obtained from an independent COPD cohort (n = 160) and 2 healthy control cohorts (n = 50; n = 109). Serum concentrations of a broad panel of inflammation-associated analytes were measured using a 92-analyte multiplex assay.
Twenty-five proteins were significantly elevated and 2 were decreased in COPD, including highly elevated CD40 ligand, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, epidermal growth factor, acute-phase proteins, and neutrophil-associated proteins. This profile was largely independent of smoking status, age, and clinical phenotype. The majority of these associations of serum analytes with COPD are novel findings. Increased serum creatine kinase-muscle/brain and myoglobin correlated modestly with decreased forced expiratory volume at 1 second, suggesting cardiac involvement. Infliximab did not affect this systemic inflammatory profile.
A robust systemic inflammatory profile was associated with COPD. This profile was generally independent of disease severity. Because anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha did not influence systemic inflammation, how to control the underlying pathology beyond symptom suppression remains unclear.
Trial Registration, No.: NCT00056264.
PMCID: PMC3287122  PMID: 22300528
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; inflammation; biological biomarkers; tumor necrosis factor-alpha; infliximab
15.  500 Human Mononuclear Phagocytes Are Regulated by a Cross-talk with Epithelial Cells 
Cell-cell interactions are particularly important for modulating the monocyte to macrophage transition in tissue compartments. Both cell membrane contacts and soluble signals from the environment might be involved in these interactions. The aim of our study was to characterize gene expression profiles of human mononuclear phagocytes induced by a co-culture with epithelial cells.
Human THP-1 macrophages were co-cultured with A549 epithelial cells either directly or separated by a filter insert. At different time points, THP-1 cells were aspirated and the mRNA expression was evaluated by multiplex Real-time RT-PCR, the release of selected cytokines was evaluated by Luminex technology or ELISA. The phenotype of both cultured cells was evaluated by flow cytometry.
Co-culture with epithelial cells induced a number of cytokine genes (IL-1 beta, IL-6, IL-10, TNF alpha, IL-19, GM-CSF, …etc) together with upregulation of genes associated with NFkappaB activation including REL, RELB, transcription co-activator BCL3, MALT gene, and NFKB1 subunit. Our recent study has confirmed the role of NFkB signalling by inhibition of IL-6 release from co-cultured cells by p65 siRNA transfection1. Phenotypic pattern of THP-1 cells co-cultured with epithelial monolayers showed maturation and activation associated changes such as CD14 upregulation associated with higher release of the soluble form (sCD14) from macrophage membrane.
Our data suggest that properties of human mononuclear phagocytes in tissues are highly influenced by their immediate interactions with other, e.g. epithelial cells. These factors might be of particular importance in final steps of differenciation of monocytes/macrophages into fully competent effector cells.
PMCID: PMC3513012
16.  Prostaglandin E2 Inhibits Human Lung Fibroblast Chemotaxis through Disparate Actions on Different E-Prostanoid Receptors 
The migration of fibroblasts is believed to play a key role in both normal wound repair and abnormal tissue remodeling. Prostaglandin E (PGE)2, a mediator that can inhibit many fibroblast functions including chemotaxis, was reported to be mediated by the E-prostanoid (EP) receptor EP2. PGE2, however, can act on four receptors. This study was designed to determine if EP receptors, in addition to EP2, can modulate fibroblast chemotaxis. Using human fetal lung fibroblasts, the expression of all four EP receptors was demonstrated by Western blotting. EP2-selective and EP4-selective agonists inhibited both chemotaxis toward fibronectin in the blindwell assay and migration in a wound-closure assay. In contrast, EP1-selective and EP3-selective agonists stimulated cell migration in both assay systems. These results were confirmed using EP-selective antagonists. The role of both EP2 and EP4 receptors in mediating the PGE2 inhibition of chemotaxis was also confirmed by small interfering RNA suppression. Furthermore, the role of EP receptors was confirmed by blocking the expected signaling pathways. Taken together, these results demonstrate that PGE2 can act on multiple EP receptors in human lung fibroblasts, to exert disparate effects. Alterations in EP receptor expression may have the potential to alter PGE2 action. Targeting specific EP receptors may offer therapeutic opportunities in conditions characterized by abnormal tissue repair and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3028259  PMID: 20203295
human lung fibroblast; cell migration; EP receptors
17.  Long-Term Cigarette Smoke Exposure in a Mouse Model of Ciliated Epithelial Cell Function 
Exposure to cigarette smoke is associated with airway epithelial mucus cell hyperplasia and a decrease in cilia and ciliated cells. Few models have addressed the long-term effects of chronic cigarette smoke exposure on ciliated epithelial cells. Our previous in vitro studies showed that cigarette smoke decreases ciliary beat frequency (CBF) via the activation of protein kinase C (PKC). We hypothesized that chronic cigarette smoke exposure in an in vivo model would decrease airway epithelial cell ciliary beating in a PKC-dependent manner. We exposed C57BL/6 mice to whole-body cigarette smoke 2 hours/day, 5 days/week for up to 1 year. Tracheal epithelial cell CBF and the number of motile cells were measured after necropsy in cut tracheal rings, using high-speed digital video microscopy. Tracheal epithelial PKC was assayed according to direct kinase activity. At 6 weeks and 3 months of smoke exposure, the baseline CBF was slightly elevated (∼ 1 Hz) versus control mice, with no change in β-agonist–stimulated CBF between control mice and cigarette smoke–exposed mice. By 6 months of smoke exposure, the baseline CBF was significantly decreased (2–3 Hz) versus control mice, and a β-agonist failed to stimulate increased CBF. The loss of β-agonist–increased CBF continued at 9 months and 12 months of smoke exposure, and the baseline CBF was significantly decreased to less than one third of the control rate. In addition to CBF, ciliated cell numbers significantly decreased in response to smoke over time, with a significant loss of tracheal ciliated cells occurring between 6 and 12 months. In parallel with the slowing of CBF, significant PKC activation from cytosol to the membrane of tracheal epithelial cells was detected in mice exposed to smoke for 6–12 months.
PMCID: PMC2993085  PMID: 20042711
chronic cigarette smoke; cilia; PKC
18.  Reduced miR-146a Increases Prostaglandin E2 in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Fibroblasts 
Rationale: Persistent inflammation plays a major role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) pathogenesis, but its mechanisms are incompletely defined. Overproduction of the inflammatory mediator prostaglandin (PG) E2 by COPD fibroblasts contributes to reduced repair function.
Objectives: The present study determined if fibroblasts from subjects with COPD overproduce PGE2 after stimulation with the inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α, and further defined the mechanism for overproduction.
Methods: Fibroblasts were isolated from parenchymal tissue obtained from smokers with and without COPD undergoing lung surgery. PGE2, cyclooxygenases (COX), and miR-146a in these cells were evaluated by in vitro studies.
Measurements and Main Results: After stimulation with inflammatory cytokines, COPD fibroblasts produced 2.7-fold more PGE2 compared with controls with similar smoking history. The increase in PGE2 depended on induction of COX-2, which increased to a greater degree in fibroblasts from subjects with COPD. Cytokines also induced microRNA miR-146a expression in both fibroblasts, but significantly less in COPD fibroblasts. miR-146a caused degradation of COX-2 mRNA; reduced expression prolonged COX-2 mRNA half-life in fibroblasts from subjects with COPD. Cytokine-stimulated PGE2 production and miR-146a expression in cultured fibroblasts correlated with clinical severity assessed by expiratory airflow and diffusion capacity.
Conclusions: miR-146a seems to play a pathogenetic role in the abnormal inflammatory response in COPD. Increased half-life of inflammatory mRNAs is a mechanism of abnormal inflammation in this disease.
PMCID: PMC2970844  PMID: 20522791
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; miR-146a; prostaglandin E2; cyclooxygenase-2; fibroblasts
19.  Dissecting direct and indirect genetic effects on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility 
Human genetics  2013;132(4):431-441.
Cigarette smoking is the major environmental risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Genome-wide association studies have provided compelling associations for three loci with COPD. In this study, we aimed to estimate direct, i.e., independent from smoking, and indirect effects of those loci on COPD development using mediation analysis. We included a total of 3,424 COPD cases and 1,872 unaffected controls with data on two smoking-related phenotypes: lifetime average smoking intensity and cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke (pack years). Our analysis revealed that effects of two linked variants (rs1051730 and rs8034191) in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development are significantly, yet not entirely, mediated by the smoking-related phenotypes. Approximately 30 % of the total effect of variants in the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 cluster on COPD development was mediated by pack years. Simultaneous analysis of modestly (r2 = 0.21) linked markers in CHRNA3 and IREB2 revealed that an even larger (~42 %) proportion of the total effect of the CHRNA3 locus on COPD was mediated by pack years after adjustment for an IREB2 single nucleotide polymorphism. This study confirms the existence of direct effects of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3, IREB2, FAM13A and HHIP loci on COPD development. While the association of the AGPHD1/CHRNA3 locus with COPD is significantly mediated by smoking-related phenotypes, IREB2 appears to affect COPD independently of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3600068  PMID: 23299987
20.  Inflammatory cytokines regulate endothelial cell survival and tissue repair functions via NF-κB signaling 
Inflammation contributes to the development of fibrotic and malignant diseases. We assessed the ability of inflammatory cytokines to modulate endothelial cell survival and functions related to tissue repair/remodeling. Treatment with interleukin (IL)-1β or tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α (2 ng/mL) led to human pulmonary artery endothelial cells becoming spindle-shaped fibroblast-like cells. However, immunoblot and DNA microarray showed no change in most endothelial and mesenchymal markers. In the presence of IL-1β or TNF-α, cells were resistant to apoptosis induced by deprivation of serum and growth factor, and were more migratory. In addition, cells treated with IL-1β or TNF-α contracted collagen gels more robustly. In contrast, transforming growth factor-β1 did not induce these responses. RNA interference targeting nuclear factor (NF)-κB p65 blocked the effects of IL-1β or TNF-α on cell morphologic change, survival, migration, and collagen gel contraction. These results suggest that endothelial cells may contribute to tissue repair/remodeling via the NF-κB signaling in a milieu of airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3218752  PMID: 22096375
NF-κB; IL-1β; TNF-α; apoptosis; tissue repair
21.  Efficacy and safety of once-daily aclidinium in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):55.
The long-term efficacy and safety of aclidinium bromide, a novel, long-acting muscarinic antagonist, were investigated in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In two double-blind, 52-week studies, ACCLAIM/COPD I (n = 843) and II (n = 804), patients were randomised to inhaled aclidinium 200 μg or placebo once-daily. Patients were required to have a post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity ratio of ≤70% and FEV1 <80% of the predicted value. The primary endpoint was trough FEV1 at 12 and 28 weeks. Secondary endpoints were health status measured by St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and time to first moderate or severe COPD exacerbation.
At 12 and 28 weeks, aclidinium improved trough FEV1 versus placebo in ACCLAIM/COPD I (by 61 and 67 mL; both p < 0.001) and ACCLAIM/COPD II (by 63 and 59 mL; both p < 0.001). More patients had a SGRQ improvement ≥4 units at 52 weeks with aclidinium versus placebo in ACCLAIM/COPD I (48.1% versus 39.5%; p = 0.025) and ACCLAIM/COPD II (39.0% versus 32.8%; p = 0.074). The time to first exacerbation was significantly delayed by aclidinium in ACCLAIM/COPD II (hazard ratio [HR] 0.7; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.55 to 0.92; p = 0.01), but not ACCLAIM/COPD I (HR 1.0; 95% CI 0.72 to 1.33; p = 0.9). Adverse events were minor in both studies.
Aclidinium is effective and well tolerated in patients with moderate to severe COPD.
Trial registration NCT00363896 (ACCLAIM/COPD I) and NCT00358436 (ACCLAIM/COPD II).
PMCID: PMC3098801  PMID: 21518460
Aclidinium bromide; anticholinergic; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; long-acting muscarinic antagonist
22.  Spontaneous hepatic repopulation in transgenic mice expressing mutant human α1-antitrypsin by wild-type donor hepatocytes 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(5):1930-1934.
α1-Antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited condition that causes liver disease and emphysema. The normal function of this protein, which is synthesized by the liver, is to inhibit neutrophil elastase, a protease that degrades connective tissue of the lung. In the classical form of the disease, inefficient secretion of a mutant α1-antitrypsin protein (AAT-Z) results in its accumulation within hepatocytes and reduced protease inhibitor activity, resulting in liver injury and pulmonary emphysema. Because mutant protein accumulation increases hepatocyte cell stress, we investigated whether transplanted hepatocytes expressing wild-type AAT might have a competitive advantage relative to AAT-Z–expressing hepatocytes, using transgenic mice expressing human AAT-Z. Wild-type donor hepatocytes replaced 20%–98% of mutant host hepatocytes, and repopulation was accelerated by injection of an adenovector expressing hepatocyte growth factor. Spontaneous hepatic repopulation with engrafted hepatocytes occurred in the AAT-Z–expressing mice even in the absence of severe liver injury. Donor cells replaced both globule-containing and globule-devoid cells, indicating that both types of host hepatocytes display impaired proliferation relative to wild-type hepatocytes. These results suggest that wild-type hepatocyte transplantation may be therapeutic for AAT-Z liver disease and may provide an alternative to protein replacement for treating emphysema in AAT-ZZ individuals.
PMCID: PMC3083768  PMID: 21505264
23.  Reduction of exacerbations by the PDE4 inhibitor roflumilast - the importance of defining different subsets of patients with COPD 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):18.
As chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disease it is unlikely that all patients will benefit equally from a given therapy. Roflumilast, an oral, once-daily phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor, has been shown to improve lung function in moderate and severe COPD but its effect on exacerbations in unselected populations was inconclusive. This led to the question of whether a responsive subset existed that could be investigated further.
The datasets of two previous replicate, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group studies (oral roflumilast 500 μg or placebo once daily for 52 weeks) that were inconclusive regarding exacerbations were combined in a post-hoc, pooled analysis to determine whether roflumilast reduced exacerbations in a more precisely defined patient subset.
The pooled analysis included 2686 randomized patients. Roflumilast significantly decreased exacerbations by 14.3% compared with placebo (p = 0.026). Features associated with this reduction were: presence of chronic bronchitis with or without emphysema (26.2% decrease, p = 0.001), presence of cough (20.9% decrease, p = 0.006), presence of sputum (17.8% decrease, p = 0.03), and concurrent use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS; 18.8% decrease, p = 0.014). The incidence of adverse events was similar with roflumilast and placebo (81.5% vs 80.1%), but more patients in the roflumilast group had events assessed as likely or definitely related to the study drug (21.5% vs 8.3%).
This post-hoc, pooled analysis showed that roflumilast reduced exacerbation frequency in a subset of COPD patients whose characteristics included chronic bronchitis with/without concurrent ICS. These observations aided the design of subsequent phase 3 studies that prospectively confirmed the reduction in exacerbations with roflumilast treatment.
Trials registration identifiers: NCT00076089 and NCT00430729.
PMCID: PMC3040135  PMID: 21272339
24.  Differentiation of embryonic stem cells into fibroblast-like cells in three-dimensional type I collagen gel cultures 
Fibroblasts are heterogeneous mesenchymal cells that play important roles in the production and maintenance of extracellular matrix. Although their heterogeneity is recognized, progenitor progeny relationships among fibroblasts and the factors that control fibroblast differentiation are poorly defined. The current study was designed to develop a reliable method that would permit in vitro differentiation of fibroblast-like cells from human and murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Undifferentiated ESCs were differentiated into embryoid bodies (EBs) with differentiation media. EBs were then cast into type I collagen gels and cultured for 21 d with basal media. The spindle-shaped cells that subsequently grew from the EBs were released from the gels and subsequently cultured as monolayers in basal media supplemented with serum. Differentiated cells showed a characteristic spindle-shaped morphology and had ultrastructural features consistent with fibroblasts. Immunocytochemistry showed positive staining for vimentin and alpha-smooth muscle actin but was negative for stage-specific embryonic antigens and cytokeratins. Assays of fibroblast function, including proliferation, chemotaxis, and contraction of collagen gels demonstrated that the differentiated cells, derived from both human and murine ESCs, responded to transforming growth factor-β1 and prostaglandin E2 as would be expected of fibroblasts, functions not expected of endothelial or epithelial cells. The current study demonstrates that cells with the morphologic and functional features of fibroblasts can be reliably derived from human and murine ESCs. This methodology provides a means to investigate and define the mechanisms that regulate fibroblast differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3042114  PMID: 21107747
Embryonic stem cell differentiation; Fibroblasts; Three-dimensional collagen gel cultures
25.  Comorbidities, Patient Knowledge, and Disease Management in a National Sample of Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
The American journal of medicine  2009;122(4):348-355.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States but is often under-treated. COPD often overlaps with other conditions such as hypertension and osteoporosis, which are less morbid but which may be treated more aggressively. We evaluated the prevalence of these comorbid conditions and compared testing, patient knowledge, and management in a national sample of patients with COPD.
Methods and Methods
A survey was administered by telephone in 2006 to 1,003 COPD patients to evaluate the prevalence of comorbid conditions, diagnostic testing, knowledge, and management using standardized instruments. The completion rate was 87%.
Among 1,003 patients with COPD, 61% reported moderate or severe dyspnea and 41% a prior hospitalization for COPD. The most prevalent comorbid diagnoses were hypertension (55%), hypercholesterolemia (52%), depression (37%), cataracts (31%) and osteoporosis (28%). Only 10% of respondents knew their FEV1 (95% CI: 8, 12%) compared to 79% who knew their blood pressure (95% CI: 76%, 83%). Seventy-two percent (95% CI: 69%, 75%) reported taking any medication for COPD – usually a short-acting bronchodilator – whereas 87% (95% CI: 84%, 90%) of patients with COPD and hypertension were taking an antihypertensive medication and 72% (95% CI: 68%, 75%) of patients with COPD and hypercholesterolemia were taking a statin.
Although most of these COPD patients in this national sample were symptomatic and many had been hospitalized for COPD, COPD self-knowledge was low and COPD was undertreated compared to generally asymptomatic, less morbid conditions such as hypertension.
PMCID: PMC2692705  PMID: 19332230
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; chronic bronchitis; asthma; comorbidities

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