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1.  IL-9 Governs Allergen-induced Mast Cell Numbers in the Lung and Chronic Remodeling of the Airways 
IL-9 is a pleiotropic cytokine that has multiple effects on structural as well as numerous hematopoietic cells, which are central to the pathogenesis of asthma.
The contribution of IL-9 to asthma pathogenesis has thus far been unclear, due to conflicting reports in the literature. These earlier studies focused on the role of IL-9 in acute inflammatory models; here we have investigated the effects of IL-9 blockade during chronic allergic inflammation.
Mice were exposed to either prolonged ovalbumin or house dust mite allergen challenge to induce chronic inflammation and airway remodeling.
Measurements and Main Results
We found that IL-9 governs allergen-induced mast cell (MC) numbers in the lung and has pronounced effects on chronic allergic inflammation. Anti–IL-9 antibody–treated mice were protected from airway remodeling with a concomitant reduction in mature MC numbers and activation, in addition to decreased expression of the profibrotic mediators transforming growth factor-β1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor-2 in the lung. Airway remodeling was associated with impaired lung function in the peripheral airways and this was reversed by IL-9 neutralization. In human asthmatic lung tissue, we identified MCs as the main IL-9 receptor expressing population and found them to be sources of vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2.
Our data suggest an important role for an IL-9-MC axis in the pathology associated with chronic asthma and demonstrate that an impact on this axis could lead to a reduction in chronic inflammation and improved lung function in patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC3385369  PMID: 20971830
IL-9; mast cells; asthma; airway remodeling; AHR
2.  MicroRNA Expression Profiling in Mild Asthmatic Human Airways and Effect of Corticosteroid Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5889.
Asthma is a common disease characterised by reversible airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and chronic inflammation, which is commonly treated using corticosteroids such as budesonide. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a recently identified family of non-protein encoding genes that regulate protein translation by a mechanism entitled RNA interference. Previous studies have shown lung-specific miRNA expression profiles, although their importance in regulating gene expression is unresolved. We determined whether miRNA expression was differentially expressed in mild asthma and the effect of corticosteroid treatment.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have examined changes in miRNA using a highly sensitive RT-PCR based approach to measure the expression of 227 miRNAs in airway biopsies obtained from normal and mild asthmatic patients. We have also determined whether the anti-inflammatory action of corticosteroids are mediated through miRNAs by determining the profile of miRNA expression in mild asthmatics, before and following 1 month twice daily treatment with inhaled budesonide. Furthermore, we have analysed the expression of miRNAs from individual cell populations from the airway and lung.
We found no significant difference in the expression of 227 miRNAs in the airway biopsies obtained from normal and mild asthmatic patients. In addition, despite improved lung function, we found no significant difference in the miRNA expression following one month treatment with the corticosteroid, budesonide. However, analysis of bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells, airway smooth muscle cells, alveolar macrophages and lung fibroblasts demonstrate a miRNA expression profile that is specific to individual cell types and demonstrates the complex cellular heterogeneity within whole tissue samples.
Changes in miRNA expression do not appear to be involved in the development of a mild asthmatic phenotype or in the anti-inflammatory action of the corticosteroid budesonide.
PMCID: PMC2690402  PMID: 19521514
3.  Lung Delivery Studies Using siRNA Conjugated to TAT(48-60) and Penetratin Reveal Peptide Induced Reduction in Gene Expression and Induction of Innate Immunity 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2007;18(5):1450-1459.
The therapeutic application of siRNA shows promise as an alternative approach to small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of human disease. However, the major obstacle to its use has been the difficulty in delivering these large anionic molecules in vivo. In this study, we have investigated whether siRNA-mediated knockdown of p38 MAP kinase mRNA in mouse lung is influenced by conjugation to the non-viral delivery vector cholesterol and the cell penetrating peptides (CPP) TAT(48-60) and penetratin. Initial studies in the mouse fibroblast L929 cell line, showed that siRNA conjugated to cholesterol, TAT(48-60) and penetratin but not siRNA alone achieved a limited reduction of p38 MAP kinase mRNA expression. Intratracheal administration of siRNA resulted in localisation within macrophages and scattered epithelial cells and produced a 30-45% knockdown of p38 MAP kinase mRNA at 6hrs. As with increasing doses of siRNA, conjugation to cholesterol improved upon the duration but not the magnitude of mRNA knockdown whilst penetratin and TAT(48-60) had no effect. Importantly, administration of the penetratin or TAT(48-60) peptides alone caused significant reduction in p38 MAP kinase mRNA expression whilst the penetratin-siRNA conjugate activated the innate immune response. Overall, these studies suggest that conjugation to cholesterol may extend but not increase siRNA mediated p38 MAP kinase mRNA knockdown in the lung. Furthermore, the use of CPP may be limited due to as yet uncharacterized effects upon gene expression and a potential for immune activation.
PMCID: PMC2621305  PMID: 17711319
lung; MAPK14; p38 MAP kinase; TAT(48-60); penetratin; cholesterol; mouse; delivery; siRNA

Results 1-3 (3)