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author:("baluka, Peter")
1.  Cathepsin L Protects Mice from Mycoplasmal Infection and Is Essential for Airway Lymphangiogenesis 
Cathepsin L (Ctsl) is a proposed therapeutic target to control inflammatory responses in a number of disease states. However, Ctsl is thought to support host defense via its involvement in antigen presentation pathways. Hypothesizing that Ctsl helps combat bacterial infection, we investigated its role in Mycoplasma pulmonis–infected mice as a model of acute and chronic infectious airway inflammation. Responses to the airway inoculation of mycoplasma were compared in Ctsl−/− and Ctsl+/+ mice. After infection, Ctsl−/− mice demonstrated more body weight loss, greater mortality (22% versus 0%, respectively), and heavier lungs than Ctsl+/+ mice, but had smaller bronchial lymph nodes. The burden of live mycoplasma in lungs was 247-fold greater in Ctsl−/− mice than in Ctsl+/+ mice after infection for 3 days. Ctsl−/− mice exhibited more severe pneumonia and neutrophil-rich, airway-occlusive exudates, which developed more rapidly than in Ctsl+/+ mice. Compared with the conspicuous remodeling of lymphatics after infection in Ctsl+/+ mice, little lymphangiogenesis occurred in Ctsl−/− mice, but blood vessel remodeling and tissue inflammation were similarly severe. Titers of mycoplasma-reactive IgM, IgA, and IgG in blood in response to live and heat-killed organisms were similar to those in Ctsl+/+ mice. However, enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assays revealed profound reductions in the cellular IFN-γ response to mycoplasma antigen. These findings suggest that Ctsl helps contain mycoplasma infection by supporting lymphangiogenesis and cellular immune responses to infection, and our findings predict that the therapeutic inhibition of Ctsl could increase the severity of mycoplasmal infections.
PMCID: PMC3824055  PMID: 23600672
cathepsin L; mycoplasma; pneumonia; bronchitis; lymphangiogenesis
2.  Dynamics of Airway Blood Vessels and Lymphatics 
Blood vessels and lymphatic vessels in the respiratory tract play key roles in inflammation. By undergoing adaptive remodeling and growth, blood vessels undergo changes that enable the extravasation of plasma and leukocytes into inflamed tissues, and lymphatic vessels adjust to the increased fluid clearance and cell traffic involved in immune responses. Blood vessels and lymphatics in adult airways are strikingly different from those of late-stage embryos. Before birth, blood vessels in mouse airways make up a primitive plexus similar to that of the yolk sac. This plexus undergoes rapid and extensive remodeling at birth. In the early neonatal period, parts of the plexus regress. Capillaries then rapidly regrow, and with arterioles and venules form the characteristic adult vascular pattern. Lymphatic vessels of the airways also undergo rapid changes around birth, when lymphatic endothelial cells develop button-like intercellular junctions specialized for efficient fluid uptake. Among the mechanisms that underlie the onset of rapid vascular remodeling at birth, changes in tissue oxygen tension and mechanical forces associated with breathing are likely to be involved, along with growth factors that promote the growth and maturation of blood vessels and lymphatics. Whatever the mechanisms, the dynamic nature of airway blood vessels and lymphatics during perinatal development foretells the extraordinary vascular plasticity found in many diseases.
PMCID: PMC3359074  PMID: 22052927
angiogenesis; blood vessels; lymphatics; lymphangiogenesis; respiratory tract
3.  Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induces remodeling and enhances TH2-mediated sensitization and inflammation in the lung 
Nature medicine  2004;10(10):1095-1103.
Exaggerated levels of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) are present in persons with asthma, but the role(s) of VEGF in normal and asthmatic lungs has not been defined. We generated lung-targeted VEGF165 transgenic mice and evaluated the role of VEGF in T-helper type 2 cell (TH2)-mediated inflammation. In these mice, VEGF induced, through IL-13–dependent and –independent pathways, an asthma-like phenotype with inflammation, parenchymal and vascular remodeling, edema, mucus metaplasia, myocyte hyperplasia and airway hyper-responsiveness. VEGF also enhanced respiratory antigen sensitization and TH2 inflammation and increased the number of activated DC2 dendritic cells. In antigen-induced inflammation, VEGF was produced by epithelial cells and preferentially by TH2 versus TH1 cells. In this setting, it had a critical role in TH2 inflammation, cytokine production and physiologic dysregulation. Thus, VEGF is a mediator of vascular and extravascular remodeling and inflammation that enhances antigen sensitization and is crucial in adaptive TH2 inflammation. VEGF regulation may be therapeutic in asthma and other TH2 disorders.
PMCID: PMC3434232  PMID: 15378055
4.  Rapid remodeling of airway vascular architecture at birth 
Recent advances have documented the development of lung vasculature before and after birth, but less is known of the growth and maturation of airway vasculature. We sought to determine whether airway vasculature changes during the perinatal period and when the typical adult pattern develops. On embryonic day 16.5 mouse tracheas had a primitive vascular plexus unlike the adult airway vasculature, but instead resembling the yolk sac vasculature. Soon after birth (P0), the primitive vascular plexus underwent abrupt and extensive remodeling. Blood vessels overlying tracheal cartilage rings regressed from P1 to P3 but regrew from P4 to P7 to form the hierarchical, segmented, ladder-like adult pattern. Hypoxia and HIF-1α were present in tracheal epithelium over vessels that survived but not where they regressed. These findings reveal the plasticity of airway vasculature after birth and show that these vessels can be used to elucidate factors that promote postnatal vascular remodeling and maturation.
PMCID: PMC2997630  PMID: 20730909
Respiratory tract; blood vessels; angiogenesis; vascular regression; hypoxia; VEGF
5.  Complementary Actions of Inhibitors of Angiopoietin-2 and VEGF on Tumor Angiogenesis and Growth 
Cancer research  2010;70(6):2213-2223.
Inhibition of angiopoietin-2 (Ang2) can slow tumor growth, but the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Because Ang2 is expressed in growing blood vessels and promotes angiogenesis driven by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), we asked whether the anti-tumor effect of Ang2 inhibition results from reduced sprouting angiogenesis and whether the effect is augmented by inhibition of VEGF from tumor cells. Using Colo205 human colon carcinomas in nude mice as a model, we found that selective inhibition of Ang2 by the peptide-Fc fusion protein L1-7(N) reduced the number of vascular sprouts by 46% and tumor growth by 62% over 26 days. Strikingly, when the Ang2 inhibitor was combined with a function-blocking anti-VEGF antibody, the number of sprouts was reduced by 82%, tumor vascularity was reduced by 67%, and tumor growth slowed by 91% compared to controls. The reduction in tumor growth was accompanied by decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. We conclude that inhibition of Ang2 slows tumor growth by limiting the expansion of the tumor vasculature by sprouting angiogenesis, in a manner that is complemented by concurrent inhibition of VEGF and leads to reduced proliferation and increased apoptosis of tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC2840050  PMID: 20197469
angiogenesis; angiopoietin-2; VEGF; Colo205 tumors
6.  Lymphatic endothelial cell sphingosine kinase activity is required for lymphocyte egress and lymphatic patterning 
Lymphocyte egress from lymph nodes (LNs) is dependent on sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), but the cellular source of this S1P is not defined. We generated mice that expressed Cre from the lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (Lyve-1) locus and that showed efficient recombination of loxP-flanked genes in lymphatic endothelium. We report that mice with Lyve-1 CRE-mediated ablation of sphingosine kinase (Sphk) 1 and lacking Sphk2 have a loss of S1P in lymph while maintaining normal plasma S1P. In Lyve-1 Cre+ Sphk-deficient mice, lymphocyte egress from LNs and Peyer's patches is blocked. Treatment with pertussis toxin to overcome Gαi-mediated retention signals restores lymphocyte egress. Furthermore, in the absence of lymphatic Sphks, the initial lymphatic vessels in nonlymphoid tissues show an irregular morphology and a less organized vascular endothelial cadherin distribution at cell–cell junctions. Our data provide evidence that lymphatic endothelial cells are an in vivo source of S1P required for lymphocyte egress from LNs and Peyer's patches, and suggest a role for S1P in lymphatic vessel maturation.
PMCID: PMC2812554  PMID: 20026661
7.  TNF-α drives remodeling of blood vessels and lymphatics in sustained airway inflammation in mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(10):2954-2964.
Inflammation is associated with blood vessel and lymphatic vessel proliferation and remodeling. The microvasculature of the mouse trachea provides an ideal opportunity to study this process, as Mycoplasma pulmonis infection of mouse airways induces widespread and sustained vessel remodeling, including enlargement of capillaries into venules and lymphangiogenesis. Although the mediators responsible for these vascular changes in mice have not been identified, VEGF-A is known not to be involved. Here, we sought to determine whether TNF-α drives the changes in blood vessels and lymphatics in M. pulmonis–infected mice. The endothelial cells, but not pericytes, of blood vessels, but not lymphatics, were immunoreactive for TNF receptor 1 (TNF-R1) and lymphotoxin B receptors. Most TNF-R2 immunoreactivity was on leukocytes. Infection resulted in a large and sustained increase in TNF-α expression, as measured by real-time quantitative RT-PCR, and smaller increases in lymphotoxins and TNF receptors that preceded vessel remodeling. Substantially less vessel remodeling and lymphangiogenesis occurred when TNF-α signaling was inhibited by a blocking antibody or was silenced in Tnfr1–/– mice. When administered after infection was established, the TNF-α–specific antibody slowed but did not reverse blood vessel remodeling and lymphangiogenesis. The action of TNF-α on blood vessels is probably mediated through direct effects on endothelial cells, but its effects on lymphangiogenesis may require inflammatory mediators from recruited leukocytes. We conclude that TNF-α is a strong candidate for a mediator that drives blood vessel remodeling and lymphangiogenesis in inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2752063  PMID: 19759514
8.  Disease-Specific Gene Expression Profiling in Multiple Models of Lung Disease 
Rationale: Microarray technology is widely employed for studying the molecular mechanisms underlying complex diseases. However, analyses of individual diseases or models of diseases frequently yield extensive lists of differentially expressed genes with uncertain relationships to disease pathogenesis.
Objectives: To compare gene expression changes in a heterogeneous set of lung disease models in order to identify common gene expression changes seen in diverse forms of lung pathology, as well as relatively small subsets of genes likely to be involved in specific pathophysiological processes.
Methods: We profiled lung gene expression in 12 mouse models of infection, allergy, and lung injury. A linear model was used to estimate transcript expression changes for each model, and hierarchical clustering was used to compare expression patterns between models. Selected expression changes were verified by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 24 transcripts, including many involved in inflammation and immune activation, were differentially expressed in a substantial majority (9 or more) of the models. Expression patterns distinguished three groups of models: (1) bacterial infection (n = 5), with changes in 89 transcripts, including many related to nuclear factor-κB signaling, cytokines, chemokines, and their receptors; (2) bleomycin-induced diseases (n = 2), with changes in 53 transcripts, including many related to matrix remodeling and Wnt signaling; and (3) T helper cell type 2 (allergic) inflammation (n = 5), with changes in 26 transcripts, including many encoding epithelial secreted molecules, ion channels, and transporters.
Conclusions: This multimodel dataset highlights novel genes likely involved in various pathophysiological processes and will be a valuable resource for the investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying lung disease pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2258439  PMID: 18029791
gene expression; infection; asthma; fibrosis
9.  Functionally specialized junctions between endothelial cells of lymphatic vessels 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2007;204(10):2349-2362.
Recirculation of fluid and cells through lymphatic vessels plays a key role in normal tissue homeostasis, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Despite recent advances in understanding lymphatic function (Alitalo, K., T. Tammela, and T.V. Petrova. 2005. Nature. 438:946–953), the cellular features responsible for entry of fluid and cells into lymphatics are incompletely understood. We report the presence of novel junctions between endothelial cells of initial lymphatics at likely sites of fluid entry. Overlapping flaps at borders of oak leaf–shaped endothelial cells of initial lymphatics lacked junctions at the tip but were anchored on the sides by discontinuous button-like junctions (buttons) that differed from conventional, continuous, zipper-like junctions (zippers) in collecting lymphatics and blood vessels. However, both buttons and zippers were composed of vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin) and tight junction–associated proteins, including occludin, claudin-5, zonula occludens–1, junctional adhesion molecule–A, and endothelial cell–selective adhesion molecule. In C57BL/6 mice, VE-cadherin was required for maintenance of junctional integrity, but platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule–1 was not. Growing tips of lymphatic sprouts had zippers, not buttons, suggesting that buttons are specialized junctions rather than immature ones. Our findings suggest that fluid enters throughout initial lymphatics via openings between buttons, which open and close without disrupting junctional integrity, but most leukocytes enter the proximal half of initial lymphatics.
PMCID: PMC2118470  PMID: 17846148
10.  Mast Cells Protect Mice from Mycoplasma Pneumonia 
Rationale: As the smallest free-living bacteria and a frequent cause of respiratory infections, mycoplasmas are unique pathogens. Mice infected with Mycoplasma pulmonis can develop localized, life-long airway infection accompanied by persistent inflammation and remodeling.
Objective: Because mast cells protect mice from acute septic peritonitis and gram-negative pneumonia, we hypothesized that they defend against mycoplasma infection. This study tests this hypothesis using mast cell–deficient mice.
Methods: Responses to airway infection with M. pulmonis were compared in wild-type and mast cell–deficient KitW-sh/KitW-sh mice and sham-infected control mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Endpoints include mortality, body and lymph node weight, mycoplasma antibody titer, and lung mycoplasma burden and histopathology at intervals after infection. The results reveal that infected KitW-sh/KitW-sh mice, compared with other groups, lose more weight and are more likely to die. Live mycoplasma burden is greater in KitW-sh/KitW-sh than in wild-type mice at early time points. Four days after infection, the difference is 162-fold. Titers of mycoplasma-specific IgM and IgA appear earlier and rise higher in KitW-sh/KitW-sh mice, but antibody responses to heat-killed mycoplasma are not different compared with wild-type mice. Infected KitW-sh/KitW-sh mice develop larger bronchial lymph nodes and progressive pneumonia and airway occlusion with neutrophil-rich exudates, accompanied by angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. In wild-type mice, pneumonia and exudates are less severe, quicker to resolve, and are not associated with increased angiogenesis.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that mast cells are important for innate immune containment of and recovery from respiratory mycoplasma infection.
PMCID: PMC2662990  PMID: 16210667
angiogenesis; bronchitis; innate immunity; lymphangiogenesis; pneumonia
11.  Pathogenesis of persistent lymphatic vessel hyperplasia in chronic airway inflammation 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(2):247-257.
Edema occurs in asthma and other inflammatory diseases when the rate of plasma leakage from blood vessels exceeds the drainage through lymphatic vessels and other routes. It is unclear to what extent lymphatic vessels grow to compensate for increased leakage during inflammation and what drives the lymphangiogenesis that does occur. We addressed these issues in mouse models of (a) chronic respiratory tract infection with Mycoplasma pulmonis and (b) adenoviral transduction of airway epithelium with VEGF family growth factors. Blood vessel remodeling and lymphangiogenesis were both robust in infected airways. Inhibition of VEGFR-3 signaling completely prevented the growth of lymphatic vessels but not blood vessels. Lack of lymphatic growth exaggerated mucosal edema and reduced the hypertrophy of draining lymph nodes. Airway dendritic cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and epithelial cells expressed the VEGFR-3 ligands VEGF-C or VEGF-D. Adenoviral delivery of either VEGF-C or VEGF-D evoked lymphangiogenesis without angiogenesis, whereas adenoviral VEGF had the opposite effect. After antibiotic treatment of the infection, inflammation and remodeling of blood vessels quickly subsided, but lymphatic vessels persisted. Together, these findings suggest that when lymphangiogenesis is impaired, airway inflammation may lead to bronchial lymphedema and exaggerated airflow obstruction. Correction of defective lymphangiogenesis may benefit the treatment of asthma and other inflammatory airway diseases.
PMCID: PMC544601  PMID: 15668734
12.  Phosphorylation of VE-cadherin is modulated by haemodynamic forces and contributes to the regulation of vascular permeability in vivo 
Nature Communications  2012;3:1208-.
Endothelial adherens junctions maintain vascular integrity. Arteries and veins differ in their permeability but whether organization and strength of their adherens junctions vary has not been demonstrated in vivo. Here we report that vascular endothelial cadherin, an endothelial specific adhesion protein located at adherens junctions, is phosphorylated in Y658 and Y685 in vivo in veins but not in arteries under resting conditions. This difference is due to shear stress-induced junctional Src activation in veins. Phosphorylated vascular endothelial-cadherin is internalized and ubiquitinated in response to permeability-increasing agents such as bradykinin and histamine. Inhibition of Src blocks vascular endothelial cadherin phosphorylation and bradykinin-induced permeability. Point mutation of Y658F and Y685F prevents vascular endothelial cadherin internalization, ubiquitination and an increase in permeability by bradykinin in vitro. Thus, phosphorylation of vascular endothelial cadherin contributes to a dynamic state of adherens junctions, but is not sufficient to increase vascular permeability in the absence of inflammatory agents.
Vascular endothelial-cadherin is a junctional protein implicated in the control of vascular permeability. Orsenigo et al. find that vascular endothelial-cadherin is phosphorylated in veins but not in arteries of mice, and that this sensitizes vessels to rapid changes in permeability in response to inflammatory mediators.
PMCID: PMC3514492  PMID: 23169049

Results 1-12 (12)