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1.  Regulated Mucin Secretion from Airway Epithelial Cells 
Secretory epithelial cells of the proximal airways synthesize and secrete gel-forming polymeric mucins. The secreted mucins adsorb water to form mucus that is propelled by neighboring ciliated cells, providing a mobile barrier which removes inhaled particles and pathogens from the lungs. Several features of the intracellular trafficking of mucins make the airway secretory cell an interesting comparator for the cell biology of regulated exocytosis. Polymeric mucins are exceedingly large molecules (up to 3 × 106 Da per monomer) whose folding and initial polymerization in the ER requires the protein disulfide isomerase Agr2. In the Golgi, mucins further polymerize to form chains and possibly branched networks comprising more than 20 monomers. The large size of mucin polymers imposes constraints on their packaging into transport vesicles along the secretory pathway. Sugar side chains account for >70% of the mass of mucins, and their attachment to the protein core by O-glycosylation occurs in the Golgi. Mature polymeric mucins are stored in large secretory granules ∼1 μm in diameter. These are translocated to the apical membrane to be positioned for exocytosis by cooperative interactions among myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate, cysteine string protein, heat shock protein 70, and the cytoskeleton. Mucin granules undergo exocytic fusion with the plasma membrane at a low basal rate and a high stimulated rate. Both rates are mediated by a regulated exocytic mechanism as indicated by phenotypes in both basal and stimulated secretion in mice lacking Munc13-2, a sensor of the second messengers calcium and diacylglycerol (DAG). Basal secretion is induced by low levels of activation of P2Y2 purinergic and A3 adenosine receptors by extracellular ATP released in paracrine fashion and its metabolite adenosine. Stimulated secretion is induced by high levels of the same ligands, and possibly by inflammatory mediators as well. Activated receptors are coupled to phospholipase C by Gq, resulting in the generation of DAG and of IP3 that releases calcium from apical ER. Stimulated secretion requires activation of the low affinity calcium sensor Synaptotagmin-2, while a corresponding high affinity calcium sensor in basal secretion is not known. The core exocytic machinery is comprised of the SNARE proteins VAMP8, SNAP23, and an unknown Syntaxin protein, together with the scaffolding protein Munc18b. Common and distinct features of this exocytic system in comparison to neuroendocrine cells and neurons are highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3776272  PMID: 24065956
secretion; exocytosis; mucin; mucus; MARCKS; Munc18; Munc13; synaptotagmin
2.  Safety, tolerability, and biomarkers of the treatment of mice with aerosolized Toll-like receptor ligands 
We have previously discovered a synergistically therapeutic combination of two Toll-like receptor ligands, an oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) and Pam2CSK4. Aerosolization of these ligands stimulates innate immunity within the lungs to prevent pneumonia from bacterial and viral pathogens. Here we examined the safety and tolerability of this treatment in mice, and characterized the expression of biomarkers of innate immune activation. We found that neutrophils appeared in lung lavage fluid 4 h after treatment, reached a peak at 48 h, and resolved by 7 days. The peak of neutrophil influx was accompanied by a small increase in lung permeability. Despite the abundance of neutrophils in lung lavage fluid, only rare neutrophils were visible histopathologically in the interstitium surrounding bronchi and veins and none were visible in alveolar airspaces. The cytokines interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor, and Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 2 rose several hundred-fold in lung lavage fluid 4 h after treatment in a dose-dependent and synergistic manner, providing useful biomarkers of lung activation. IL-6 rose fivefold in serum with delayed kinetics compared to its rise in lavage fluid, and might serve as a systemic biomarker of immune activation of the lungs. The dose–response relationship of lavage fluid cytokines was preserved in mice that underwent myeloablative treatment with cytosine arabinoside to model the treatment of hematologic malignancy. There were no overt signs of distress in mice treated with ODN/Pam2CSK4 in doses up to eightfold the therapeutic dose, and no changes in temperature, respiratory rate, or behavioral signs of sickness including sugar water preference, food disappearance, cage exploration or social interaction, though there was a small degree of transient weight loss. We conclude that treatment with aerosolized ODN/Pam2CSK4 is well tolerated in mice, and that innate immune activation of the lungs can be monitored by the measurement of inflammatory cytokines in lung lavage fluid and serum.
PMCID: PMC3915096  PMID: 24567720
pneumonia; innate immunity; Toll-like receptor; oligodeoxynucleotide; lipopeptide; aerosol; myeloablation
3.  β2-Adrenoceptor Agonists Are Required for Development of the Asthma Phenotype in a Murine Model 
β2-Adrenoceptor (β2AR) agonists are the most effective class of bronchodilators and a mainstay of asthma management. The first potent β2AR agonist discovered and widely used in reversing the airway constriction associated with asthma exacerbation was the endogenous activator of the β2AR, epinephrine. In this study, we demonstrate that activation of the β2AR by epinephrine is paradoxically required for development of the asthma phenotype. In an antigen-driven model, mice sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin showed marked elevations in three cardinal features of the asthma phenotype: inflammatory cells in their bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, mucin over production, and airway hyperresponsiveness. However, genetic depletion of epinephrine using mice lacking the enzyme to synthesize epinephrine, phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase, or mice that had undergone pharmacological sympathectomy with reserpine to deplete epinephrine, had complete attenuation of these three cardinal features of the asthma phenotype. Furthermore, administration of the long-acting β2AR agonist, formoterol, a drug currently used in asthma treatment, to phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase–null mice restored the asthma phenotype. We conclude that β2AR agonist–induced activation is needed for pathogenesis of the asthma phenotype. These findings also rule out constitutive signaling by the β2AR as sufficient to drive the asthma phenotype, and may help explain why chronic administration of β2AR agonists, such as formoterol, have been associated with adverse outcomes in asthma. These data further support the hypothesis that chronic asthma management may be better served by treatment with certain “β-blockers.”
PMCID: PMC3604060  PMID: 23204390
β2-adrenoceptor agonists; formoterol; epinephrine; murine model; asthma
4.  Promoting effect of neutrophils on lung tumorigenesis is mediated by CXCR2 and neutrophil elastase 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:154.
Tumor cells produce various cytokines and chemokines that attract leukocytes. Leukocytes can amplify parenchymal innate immune responses, and have been shown to contribute to tumor promotion. Neutrophils are among the first cells to arrive at sites of inflammation, and the increased number of tumor-associated neutrophils is linked to poorer outcome in patients with lung cancer.
We have previously shown that COPD-like airway inflammation promotes lung cancer in a K-ras mutant mouse model of lung cancer (CC-LR). This was associated with severe lung neutrophilic influx due to the increased level of neutrophil chemoattractant, KC. To further study the role of neutrophils in lung tumorigenesis, we depleted neutrophils in CC-LR mice using an anti-neutrophil antibody. This resulted in a significant reduction in lung tumor number. We further selectively inhibited the main receptor for neutrophil chemo-attractant KC, CXCR2. Similarly, this resulted in suppression of neutrophil recruitment into the lung of CC-LR mice followed by significant tumor reduction. Neutrophil elastase (NE) is a potent elastolytic enzyme produced by neutrophils at the site of inflammation. We crossed the CC-LR mice with NE knock-out mice, and found that lack of NE significantly inhibits lung cancer development. These were associated with significant reduction in tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis.
We conclude that lung cancer promotion by inflammation is partly mediated by activation of the IL-8/CXCR2 pathway and subsequent recruitment of neutrophils and release of neutrophil elastase. This provides a baseline for future clinical trials using the IL-8/CXCR2 pathway or NE inhibitors in patients with lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3923587  PMID: 24321240
Neutrophil; Elastase; Lung cancer; Inflammation; CXCR2; K-ras
5.  Mucus hypersecretion in asthma: causes and effects 
Purpose of review
Airway mucus plugging has long been recognized as a principal cause of death in asthma. However, molecular mechanisms of mucin overproduction and secretion have not been understood until recently. These mechanisms are reviewed together with ongoing investigations relating them to lung pathophysiology.
Recent findings
Of the five secreted gel-forming mucins in mammals, only MUC5AC and MUC5B are produced in significant quantities in intrapulmonary airways. MUC5B is the principal gel-forming mucin at baseline in small airways of humans and mice, and therefore likely performs most homeostatic clearance functions. MUC5AC is the principal gel-forming mucin upregulated in airway inflammation and is under negative control by forkhead box a2 and positive control by hypoxia inducible factor-1. Mucin secretion is regulated separately from production, principally by extracellular triphosphate nucleotides that bind P2Y2 receptors on the lumenal surface of airway secretory cells, generating intracellular second messengers that activate the exocytic proteins, Munc13-2 and synaptotagmin-2.
Markedly upregulated production of MUC5AC together with stimulated secretion leads to airflow obstruction in asthma. As MUC5B appears to mediate homeostatic functions, it may be possible to selectively inhibit MUC5AC production without impairing airway function. The precise roles of mucin hypersecretion in asthma symptoms such as dyspnea and cough and in physiologic phenomena such as airway hyperresponsiveness remain to be defined.
PMCID: PMC2709596  PMID: 19077699
airway; asthma; mucin; mucous; mucus
6.  Assessment of Intracellular Mucin Content In Vivo 
Airway mucus presents a first line of defense against inhaled materials. It also, however, is a significant pathological contributor to chronic lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thus, gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of mucus production and secretion is an important goal for improving respiratory health. Mucins, the chief glycoprotein components of airway mucus, are very large polymeric glycoproteins, and measuring their production and secretion in experimental animals present significant technical challenges. Over the past several years, we have developed assays for accurately quantifying mucin production and secretion using histological and biochemical assays. These methods are described here.
PMCID: PMC3751172  PMID: 22259143
airways; asthma; cystic fibrosis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; goblet cell; lungs; mouse; mucin; mucous; mucus
7.  Synergistic interactions of TLR2/6 and TLR9 induce a high level of resistance to lung infection in mice 
Infectious pneumonias exact an unacceptable mortality burden worldwide. Efforts to protect populations from pneumonia have historically focused on antibiotic development and vaccine-enhanced adaptive immunity. However, we have recently reported that the lungs’ innate defenses can be therapeutically induced by inhalation of a bacterial lysate that protects mice against otherwise lethal pneumonia. Here, we tested in mice the hypothesis that Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are required for this antimicrobial phenomenon, and found that resistance could not be induced in the absence of the TLR signaling adaptor protein MyD88. We then attempted to recapitulate the protection afforded by the bacterial lysate by stimulating the lung epithelium with aerosolized synthetic TLR ligands. While most single or combination treatments yielded no protection, simultaneous treatment with ligands for TLR2/6 and TLR9 conferred robust, synergistic protection against virulent Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens. Protection was associated with rapid pathogen killing in the lungs, and pathogen killing could be induced from lung epithelial cells in isolation. Taken together, these data demonstrate the requirement for TLRs in inducible resistance against pneumonia, reveal a remarkable, unanticipated synergistic interaction of TLR2/6 and TLR9, reinforce the emerging evidence supporting the antimicrobial capacity of the lung epithelium, and may provide the basis for a novel clinical therapeutic that can protect patients against pneumonia during periods of peak vulnerability.
PMCID: PMC3654378  PMID: 21482737
8.  Performance of a Standardized Bronchoalveolar Lavage Protocol in a Comprehensive Cancer Center 
Cancer  2011;117(15):3424-3433.
Flexible bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is performed widely for the diagnosis of pulmonary infections in patients with cancer, but there is no consensus regarding the technical parameters of the lavage procedure in this setting.
The authors evaluated the mechanics (instilled and recovered volumes), diagnostic yield, and safety of a standardized BAL protocol in 284 patients with cancer who underwent bronchoscopy for the evaluation of new radiologic infiltrates.
Physician adherence to the BAL protocol was > 90%. The most common protocol deviations were reductions in the saline volume instilled because of actual or anticipated oxyhemoglobin desaturation during the procedure. The mean volume instilled was 121.5 ± 13.9 mL, the mean volume recovered was 68.7 ± 18.1 mL, and the mean ratio of volume instilled to that recovered was 56.7% ± 14.5%. The overall diagnostic yield of BAL was 33.8% and was higher in the nonhematologic malignancy group (42.3% vs 29.4%; P = .021). The diagnostic yield in neutropenic patients was significantly higher than in nonneutropenic patients (41.5% vs 24.6%; P = .019). No major complications were encountered.
In summary, the diagnostic performance of a standardized BAL protocol was comparable to that of nonprotocolized BAL reported in the literature with few complications. Adherence to a standardized BAL protocol may improve clinical and laboratory comparisons between studies, potentially facilitating research into the diagnosis and management of pneumonia in patients with cancer.
PMCID: PMC3457647  PMID: 21246537
pneumonia; bronchoalveolar lavage; immunocompromise; cancer; diagnosis
9.  Munc18b is an essential gene in mice whose expression is limiting for secretion by airway epithelial and mast cells 
Biochemical Journal  2012;446(Pt 3):383-394.
Airway mucin secretion and MC (mast cell) degranulation must be tightly controlled for homoeostasis of the lungs and immune system respectively. We found the exocytic protein Munc18b to be highly expressed in mouse airway epithelial cells and MCs, and localized to the apical pole of airway secretory cells. To address its functions, we created a mouse with a severely hypomorphic Munc18b allele such that protein expression in heterozygotes was reduced by ~50%. Homozygous mutant mice were not viable, but heterozygotes showed a ~50% reduction in stimulated release of mucin from epithelial cells and granule contents from MCs. The defect in MCs affected only regulated secretion and not constitutive or transporter-mediated secretion. The severity of passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was also reduced by ~50%, showing that reduction of Munc18b expression results in an attenuation of physiological responses dependent on MC degranulation. The Munc18b promoter is controlled by INR (initiator), Sp1 (specificity protein 1), Ets, CRE (cAMP-response element), GRE (glucocorticoid-response element), GATA and E-box elements in airway epithelial cells; however, protein levels did not change during mucous metaplasia induced by allergic inflammation. Taken together, the results of the present study identify Munc18b as an essential gene that is a limiting component of the exocytic machinery of epithelial cells and MCs.
PMCID: PMC3430001  PMID: 22694344
exocytosis; mast cell; mucin; mucus; Munc18; secretion; AB-PAS, Alcian Blue/periodic acid/Schiff reagent; bHLH, basic helix–loop–helix; CCSP, Clara cell secretory protein; Clca3, chloride channel, calcium-activated, family member 3; CRE, cAMP-response element; DNP, 2,4-dinitrophenol; FBS, fetal bovine serum; FcϵRIα, high-affinity IgE receptor, α subunit; FRT, flippase recognition target; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GRE, glucocorticoid-response element; HA, haemagglutinin; HSA, human serum albumin; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; IL-3, interleukin-3; INR, initiator; ISH, in situ hybridization; MC, mast cell; mBMMC, mouse bone-marrow-derived MC; mClca3, mouse Clca3; MFI, mean fluorescent intensity; mtCC, mouse transformed Clara cell; NK, natural killer; OCT, optimal cutting temperature compound; PAFS, periodic acid/fluorescent Schiff reagent; PBST, PBS containing 0.05% Tween 20; PGD2, prostaglandin D2; PGK, phosphoglucokinase; SCF, stem cell factor; SM, Sec1/Munc18; SNAP, soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor-attachment protein; SNARE, SNAP receptor; Stxbp2, syntaxin-binding protein 2; TK, thymidine kinase; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α; WT, wild-type; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein
10.  Synergistic TLR2/6 and TLR9 Activation Protects Mice against Lethal Influenza Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30596.
Lower respiratory tract infections caused by influenza A continue to exact unacceptable worldwide mortality, and recent epidemics have emphasized the importance of preventative and containment strategies. We have previously reported that induction of the lungs' intrinsic defenses by aerosolized treatments can protect mice against otherwise lethal challenges with influenza A virus. More recently, we identified a combination of Toll like receptor (TLR) agonists that can be aerosolized to protect mice against bacterial pneumonia. Here, we tested whether this combination of synthetic TLR agonists could enhance the survival of mice infected with influenza A/HK/8/68 (H3N2) or A/California/04/2009 (H1N1) influenza A viruses. We report that the TLR treatment enhanced survival whether given before or after the infectious challenge, and that protection tended to correlate with reductions in viral titer 4 d after infection. Surprisingly, protection was not associated with induction of interferon gene expression. Together, these studies suggest that synergistic TLR interactions can protect against influenza virus infections by mechanisms that may provide the basis for novel therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3267724  PMID: 22299046
11.  Enhancement of lung tumorigenesis in a Gprc5a Knockout mouse by chronic extrinsic airway inflammation 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:4.
Although cigarette smoking is the principal cause of lung carcinogenesis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lung, has been identified as an independent risk factor for lung cancer. Bacterial colonization, particularly with non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), has been implicated as a cause of airway inflammation in COPD besides cigarette smoke. Accordingly, we hypothesized that lung cancer promotion may occur in a chronic inflammatory environment in the absence of concurrent carcinogen exposure.
Herein, we investigated the effects of bacterial-induced COPD-like inflammation and tobacco carcinogen-enhanced tumorigenesis/inflammation in the retinoic acid inducible G protein coupled receptor knock out mouse model (Gprc5a-/- mouse) characterized by late-onset, low multiplicity tumor formation. Three-month-old Gprc5a-/- mice received 4 intraperitoneal injections of the tobacco-specific carcinogen, NNK, followed by weekly exposure to aerosolized NTHi lysate for 6 months. The numbers of inflammatory cells in the lungs and levels of several inflammatory mediators were increased in Gprc5a-/- mice treated with NTHi alone, and even more so in mice pretreated with NNK followed by NTHi. The incidence of spontaneous lung lesions in the Gprc5a-/- mice was low, but NTHi exposure led to enhanced development of hyperplastic lesions. Gprc5a-/- mice exposed to NNK alone developed multiple lung tumors, while NTHi exposure increased the number of hyperplastic foci 6-fold and the tumor multiplicity 2-fold. This was associated with increased microvessel density and HIF-1α expression.
We conclude that chronic extrinsic lung inflammation induced by bacteria alone or in combination with NNK enhances lung tumorigenesis in Gprc5a-/- mice.
PMCID: PMC3281775  PMID: 22239913
lung cancer; inflammation; COPD; Gpcr5a; NTHi
12.  Interleukin 6 But Not T Helper 2 Cytokines Promotes Lung Carcinogenesis 
Several epidemiologic studies have found that smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lung, have an increased risk of lung cancer compared to smokers without COPD. We have shown a causal role for COPD-like airway inflammation in lung cancer promotion in the CCSPCre/LSL–K-rasG12D mouse model (CC-LR). In contrast, existing epidemiologic data do not suggest any definite association between allergic airway inflammation and lung cancer. To test this, CC-LR mice were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) then challenged with an OVA aerosol weekly for eight weeks. This resulted in eosinophilic lung inflammation associated with increased levels of T helper 2 cytokines and mucous metaplasia of airway epithelium, similar to what is seen in asthma patients. However, this type of inflammation did not result in a significant difference in lung surface tumor number (49 ± 9 in OVA vs 52 ± 5 in control), in contrast to a 3.2-fold increase with COPD-like inflammation. Gene expression analysis of NTHi-treated lungs showed up-regulation of a different profile of inflammatory genes, including interleukin 6 (IL-6), compared to OVA-treated lungs. Therefore, to determine the causal role of cytokines that mediate COPD-like inflammation in lung carcinogenesis, we genetically ablated IL-6 in CC-LR mice. This not only inhibited intrinsic lung cancer development (1.7-fold), but also inhibited the promoting effect of extrinsic COPD-like airway inflammation (2.6-fold). We conclude that there is a clear specificity for the nature of inflammation in lung cancer promotion, and IL-6 has an essential role in lung cancer promotion.
PMCID: PMC3058282  PMID: 21098042
lung cancer; inflammation; COPD; asthma; IL-6
13.  Muc5ac: a critical component mediating the rejection of enteric nematodes 
The mucin Muc5ac is essential for the expulsion of Trichuris muris and other gut-dwelling nematodes.
De novo expression of Muc5ac, a mucin not normally expressed in the intestinal tract, is induced in the cecum of mice resistant to Trichuris muris infection. In this study, we investigated the role of Muc5ac, which is detected shortly before worm expulsion and is associated with the production of interleukin-13 (IL-13), in resistance to this nematode. Muc5ac-deficient mice were incapable of expelling T. muris from the intestine and harbored long-term chronic infections, despite developing strong TH2 responses. Muc5ac-deficient mice had elevated levels of IL-13 and, surprisingly, an increase in the TH1 cytokine IFN-γ. Because TH1 inflammation is thought to favor chronic nematode infection, IFN-γ was neutralized in vivo, resulting in an even stronger TH2-type immune response. Nevertheless, despite a more robust TH2 effector response, the Muc5ac-deficient mice remained highly susceptible to chronic T. muris infection. Importantly, human MUC5AC had a direct detrimental effect on nematode vitality. Moreover, the absence of Muc5ac caused a significant delay in the expulsion of two other gut-dwelling nematodes (Trichinella spiralis and Nippostrongylus brasiliensis). Thus, for the first time, we identify a single mucin, Muc5ac, as a direct and critical mediator of resistance during intestinal nematode infection.
PMCID: PMC3092342  PMID: 21502330
14.  β-Adrenoceptor Inverse Agonists in Asthma 
Current opinion in pharmacology  2010;10(3):254-259.
β2-adrenoceptor agonists are very effective bronchodilators and play a major role in every stage of asthma management. However, their chronic, regular use is associated with detrimental effects including an increase in asthma-related deaths. Conversely, recent data suggest that certain β-blockers, specifically β-adrenoceptor inverse agonists, may be useful in the chronic treatment of asthma. Here we review the data for this observation and the signaling pathways that may be involved. The data suggest that β2-adrenoceptor signaling is required to produce maximal airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness, and the signaling pathway responsible for these effects is likely the non-canonical β-arrestin-2 pathway. Therefore, β-adrenoceptor inverse agonists may produce their beneficial chronic effects by inhibiting constitutive or ligand-induced activation of this pathway. Both lung parenchymal and hematopoietic cells appear to be involved in mediating the beneficial effects of β-adrenoceptor inverse agonists.
PMCID: PMC2905467  PMID: 20399707
asthma; β-adrenoceptor agonist; airway inflammation; β-blocker; β-adrenoceptor inverse agonist
15.  Helicobacter pylori Bacteremia with Sepsis Syndrome ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(12):4661-4663.
A 65-year-old woman with a history of gastric bleeding, breast cancer, antineoplastic chemotherapy, and prednisone use presented with a fever, chest pain, a dry cough, hypotension, and prominent pulmonary bronchovascular markings. She was treated with piperacillin-tazobactam and azithromycin and rapidly improved. Six days later, the blood culture grew a pleomorphic Gram-negative bacillus. Initial subculture failed, but the organism was identified as Helicobacter pylori by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene. The bacterium eventually grew on brucella agar upon extended incubation.
PMCID: PMC3008481  PMID: 20861342
16.  Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is predicted to become the third leading cause of death in the world by 2020. It is characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is usually progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles and gases, most commonly cigarette smoke. Among smokers with COPD, even following withdrawal of cigarette smoke, inflammation persists and lung function continues to deteriorate. One possible explanation is that bacterial colonization of smoke-damaged airways, most commonly with nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), perpetuates airway injury and inflammation. Furthermore, COPD has also been identified as an independent risk factor for lung cancer irrespective of concomitant cigarette smoke exposure. In this article, we review the role of NTHi in airway inflammation that may lead to COPD progression and lung cancer promotion.
PMCID: PMC3048087  PMID: 21407824
COPD; NTHi; inflammation
17.  Clinical Implications of the Intrinsic Efficacy of Beta-Adrenoceptor Drugs in Asthma: Full, Partial and Inverse Agonism 
Purpose of the Review
β2-adrenoceptor (AR) agonists are the most effective bronchodilators known, and play important roles in every step of asthma therapy. The intrinsic efficacy is an important pharmacological property that differentiates the clinical effects and safety profile of ß2AR agonists. We review the role of ß2-AR agonist intrinsic efficacy in asthma treatment focusing on recent literature.
Recent Findings
In acute asthma, a full agonist (high intrinsic efficacy) offers a clinical advantage over a partial agonist (low intrinsic efficacy) but with the potential of inducing dose-dependent adverse effects. The chronic use of ß2-AR agonists may be associated with several adverse outcomes including loss of asthma control and even increased mortality. Recently, the role of βAR inverse agonists (beta-blockers) which have a negative intrinsic efficacy was studied. While contraindicated in acute asthma, preliminary data suggest that the chronic use of these agents may be associated with attenuation of airway hyperresponsiveness in patients with mild asthma. Studies in a murine model of asthma suggest that such effects may be related to decreased airway inflammation and mucous metaplasia.
Rational choice among β2AR agonists in acute and chronic asthma should be influenced by differences in intrinsic efficacy among these agents. In acute severe asthma, a full agonist offers a clinical advantage over a partial agonist. While the use of inverse agonists in the treatment of asthma is still experimental and needs further exploration in future trials, preliminary studies suggest that their chronic use is safe and is associated with decreased airway hyperresponsiveness.
PMCID: PMC2855430  PMID: 19887938
asthma; ß-blocker; ß-adrenoceptor inverse agonist; ß2-adrenoceptor agonist; chronic
18.  Curcumin inhibits COPD-like airway inflammation and lung cancer progression in mice 
Carcinogenesis  2009;30(11):1949-1956.
Recent studies have demonstrated that K-ras mutations in lung epithelial cells elicit inflammation that promotes carcinogenesis in mice (intrinsic inflammation). The finding that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lung, have an increased risk of lung cancer after controlling for smoking suggests a further link between lung cancer and extrinsic inflammation. Besides exposure to cigarette smoke, it is thought that airway inflammation in COPD is caused by bacterial colonization, particularly with non-typeable Hemophilus influenzae (NTHi). Previously, we have shown that NTHi-induced COPD-like airway inflammation promotes lung cancer in an airway conditional K-ras-induced mouse model. To further test the role of inflammation in cancer promotion, we administered the natural anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin, 1% in diet before and during weekly NTHi exposure. This significantly reduced the number of visible lung tumors in the absence of NTHi exposure by 85% and in the presence of NTHi exposures by 53%. Mechanistically, curcumin markedly suppressed NTHi-induced increased levels of the neutrophil chemoattractant keratinocyte-derived chemokine by 80% and neutrophils by 87% in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. In vitro studies of murine K-ras-induced lung adenocarcinoma cell lines (LKR-10 and LKR-13) indicated direct anti-tumoral effects of curcumin by reducing cell viability, colony formation and inducing apoptosis. We conclude that curcumin suppresses the progression of K-ras-induced lung cancer in mice by inhibiting intrinsic and extrinsic inflammation and by direct anti-tumoral effects. These findings suggest that curcumin could be used to protract the premalignant phase and inhibit lung cancer progression in high-risk COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC2783007  PMID: 19793800
19.  Host lung gene expression patterns predict infectious etiology in a mouse model of pneumonia 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):101.
Lower respiratory tract infections continue to exact unacceptable worldwide mortality, often because the infecting pathogen cannot be identified. The respiratory epithelia provide protection from pneumonias through organism-specific generation of antimicrobial products, offering potential insight into the identity of infecting pathogens. This study assesses the capacity of the host gene expression response to infection to predict the presence and identity of lower respiratory pathogens without reliance on culture data.
Mice were inhalationally challenged with S. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa, A. fumigatus or saline prior to whole genome gene expression microarray analysis of their pulmonary parenchyma. Characteristic gene expression patterns for each condition were identified, allowing the derivation of prediction rules for each pathogen. After confirming the predictive capacity of gene expression data in blinded challenges, a computerized algorithm was devised to predict the infectious conditions of subsequent subjects.
We observed robust, pathogen-specific gene expression patterns as early as 2 h after infection. Use of an algorithmic decision tree revealed 94.4% diagnostic accuracy when discerning the presence of bacterial infection. The model subsequently differentiated between bacterial pathogens with 71.4% accuracy and between non-bacterial conditions with 70.0% accuracy, both far exceeding the expected diagnostic yield of standard culture-based bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage.
These data substantiate the specificity of the pulmonary innate immune response and support the feasibility of a gene expression-based clinical tool for pneumonia diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC2914038  PMID: 20653947
20.  Promotion of Lung Carcinogenesis by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease–Like Airway Inflammation in a K-ras–Induced Mouse Model 
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In addition to genetic abnormalities induced by cigarette smoke, several epidemiologic studies have found that smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lungs, have an increased risk of lung cancer (1.3- to 4.9-fold) compared to smokers without COPD. This suggests a link between chronic airway inflammation and lung carcinogenesis, independent of tobacco smoke exposure. We studied this association by assaying the inflammatory impact of products of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, which colonizes the airways of patients with COPD, on lung cancer promotion in mice with an activated K-ras mutation in their airway epithelium. Two new mouse models of lung cancer were generated by crossing mice harboring the LSL–K-rasG12D allele with mice containing Cre recombinase inserted into the Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP) locus, with or without the neomycin cassette excised (CCSPCre and CCSPCre-Neo, respectively). Lung lesions in CCSPCre-Neo/LSL–K-rasG12D and CCSPCre/LSL–K-rasG12D mice appeared at 4 and 1 month of age, respectively, and were classified as epithelial hyperplasia of the bronchioles, adenoma, and adenocarcinoma. Weekly exposure of CCSPCre/LSL–K-rasG12D mice to aerosolized nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae lysate from age 6–14 weeks resulted in neutrophil/macrophage/CD8 T-cell–associated COPD-like airway inflammation, a 3.2-fold increase in lung surface tumor number (156 ± 9 versus 45 ± 7), and an increase in total lung tumor burden. We conclude that COPD-like airway inflammation promotes lung carcinogenesis in a background of a G12D-activated K-ras allele in airway secretory cells.
PMCID: PMC2660561  PMID: 18927348
K-ras; lung cancer; inflammation
21.  Allergic lung inflammation alters neither susceptibility to Streptococcus pneumoniae infection nor inducibility of innate resistance in mice 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):70.
Protective host responses to respiratory pathogens are typically characterized by inflammation. However, lung inflammation is not always protective and it may even become deleterious to the host. We have recently reported substantial protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) pneumonia by induction of a robust inflammatory innate immune response to an inhaled bacterial lysate. Conversely, the allergic inflammation associated with asthma has been proposed to promote susceptibility to pneumococcal disease. This study sought to determine whether preexisting allergic lung inflammation influences the progression of pneumococcal pneumonia or reduces the inducibilty of protective innate immunity against bacteria.
To compare the effect of different inflammatory and secretory stimuli on defense against pneumonia, intraperitoneally ovalbumin-sensitized mice were challenged with inhaled pneumococci following exposure to various inhaled combinations of ovalbumin, ATP, and/or a bacterial lysate. Thus, allergic inflammation, mucin degranulation and/or stimulated innate resistance were induced prior to the infectious challenge. Pathogen killing was evaluated by assessing bacterial CFUs of lung homogenates immediately after infection, the inflammatory response to the different conditions was evaluated by measurement of cell counts of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid 18 hours after challenge, and mouse survival was assessed after seven days.
We found no differences in survival of mice with and without allergic inflammation, nor did the induction of mucin degranulation alter survival. As we have found previously, mice treated with the bacterial lysate demonstrated substantially increased survival at seven days, and this was not altered by the presence of allergic inflammation or mucin degranulation. Allergic inflammation was associated with predominantly eosinophilic infiltration, whereas the lysate-induced response was primarily neutrophilic. The presence of allergic inflammation did not significantly alter the neutrophilic response to the lysate, and did not affect the induced bacterial killing within the lungs.
These results suggest that allergic airway inflammation neither promotes nor inhibits progression of pneumococcal lung infection in mice, nor does it influence the successful induction of stimulated innate resistance to bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2724420  PMID: 19635139
22.  Stimulation of Lung Innate Immunity Protects against Lethal Pneumococcal Pneumonia in Mice 
Rationale: The lungs are a common site of serious infection in both healthy and immunocompromised subjects, and the most likely route of delivery of a bioterror agent. Since the airway epithelium shows great structural plasticity in response to inflammatory stimuli, we hypothesized it might also show functional plasticity.
Objectives: To test the inducibility of lung defenses against bacterial challenge.
Methods: Mice were treated with an aerosolized lysate of ultraviolet-killed nontypeable (unencapsulated) Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), then challenged with a lethal dose of live Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) delivered by aerosol.
Measurements and Main Results: Treatment with the NTHi lysate induced complete protection against challenge with a lethal dose of Spn if treatment preceded challenge by 4 to 24 hours. Lesser levels of protection occurred at shorter (83% at 2 h) and longer (83% at 48–72 h) intervals between treatment and challenge. There was also some protection when treatment was given 2 hours after challenge (survival increased from 14 to 57%), but not 24 hours after challenge. Protection did not depend on recruited neutrophils or resident mast cells and alveolar macrophages. Protection was specific to the airway route of infection, correlated in magnitude and time with rapid bacterial killing within the lungs, and was associated with increases of multiple antimicrobial polypeptides in lung lining fluid.
Conclusions: We infer that protection derives from stimulation of local innate immune mechanisms, and that activated lung epithelium is the most likely cellular effector of this response. Augmentation of innate antimicrobial defenses of the lungs might have therapeutic value.
PMCID: PMC2427056  PMID: 18388354
innate immunity; pneumonia; immunocompromised host; lung epithelium
23.  Haemophilus influenzae Lysate Induces Aspects of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Phenotype 
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) commonly colonizes the lower airways of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whether it contributes to COPD progression is unknown. Here, we determined which aspects of the COPD phenotype can be induced by repetitive exposure to NTHi products. Mice were exposed weekly to an aerosolized NTHi lysate, and inflammation was evaluated by measurement of cells and cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and immunohistochemical staining; structural changes were evaluated histochemically by periodic acid fluorescent Schiff's reagent, Masson's trichrome, and Picrosirius red staining; mucin gene expression was measured by quantitative RT-PCR; and the role of TNF-α was examined by transgenic airway overexpression and use of an inhibitory antibody. NTHi lysate induced rapid activation of NF-κB in airway cells and increases of inflammatory cytokines and neutrophils in BALF. Repetitive exposure induced infiltration of macrophages, CD8+ T cells, and B cells around airways and blood vessels, and collagen deposition in airway and alveolar walls, but airway mucin staining and gel-forming mucin transcripts were not increased. Transgenic overexpression of TNF-α caused BALF neutrophilia and inflammatory cell infiltration around airways, but not fibrosis, and TNF-α neutralization did not reduce BALF neutrophilia in response to NTHi lysate. In conclusion, NTHi products elicit airway inflammation in mice with a cellular and cytokine profile similar to that in COPD, and cause airway wall fibrosis but not mucous metaplasia. TNF-α is neither required for inflammatory cell recruitment nor sufficient for airway fibrosis. Colonization by NTHi may contribute to the pathogenesis of small airways disease in patients with COPD.
PMCID: PMC2396243  PMID: 18096867
pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; Haemophilus influenzae; bronchiolitis; inflammation; fibrosis
24.  The BH3-only protein Bik/Blk/Nbk inhibits nuclear translocation of activated ERK1/2 to mediate IFNγ-induced cell death 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;183(3):429-439.
IFNγ induces cell death in epithelial cells, but the mediator for this death pathway has not been identified. In this study, we find that expression of Bik/Blk/Nbk is increased in human airway epithelial cells (AECs [HAECs]) in response to IFNγ. Expression of Bik but not mutant BikL61G induces and loss of Bik suppresses IFNγ-induced cell death in HAECs. IFNγ treatment and Bik expression increase cathepsin B and D messenger RNA levels and reduce levels of phospho–extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) in the nuclei of bik+/+ compared with bik−/− murine AECs. Bik but not BikL61G interacts with and suppresses nuclear translocation of phospho-ERK1/2, and suppression of ERK1/2 activation inhibits IFNγ- and Bik-induced cell death. Furthermore, after prolonged exposure to allergen, hyperplastic epithelial cells persist longer, and nuclear phospho-ERK is more prevalent in airways of IFNγ−/− or bik−/− compared with wild-type mice. These results demonstrate that IFNγ requires Bik to suppress nuclear localization of phospho-ERK1/2 to channel cell death in AECs.
PMCID: PMC2575785  PMID: 18981230
25.  In Vivo Demonstration and Quantification of Intracellular Bacillus anthracis in Lung Epithelial Cells▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(9):3975-3983.
Inhalational anthrax is initiated by the entry of Bacillus anthracis spores into the lung. A critical early event in the establishment of an infection is the dissemination of spores from the lung. Using in vitro cell culture assays, we previously demonstrated that B. anthracis spores are capable of entering into epithelial cells of the lung and crossing a barrier of lung epithelial cells without apparent disruption of the barrier integrity, suggesting a novel portal for spores to disseminate from the lung. However, in vivo evidence for spore uptake by epithelial cells has been lacking. Here, using a mouse model, we present evidence that B. anthracis spores are taken up by lung epithelial cells in vivo soon after spores are delivered into the lung. Immunofluorescence staining of thin sections of lungs from spore-challenged BALB/c mice revealed that spores were associated with the epithelial surfaces in the airway and the alveoli at 2 and 4 h postinoculation. Confocal analysis further indicated that some of the associated spores were surrounded by F-actin, demonstrating intracellular localization. These observations were further confirmed and substantiated by a quantitative method that first isolated lung cells from spore-challenged mice and then stained these cells with antibodies specific for epithelial cells and spores. The results showed that substantial amounts of spores were taken up by lung epithelial cells in vivo. These data, combined with those in our previous reports, provided powerful evidence that the lung epithelia were directly targeted by B. anthracis spores at early stages of infection.
PMCID: PMC2519418  PMID: 18625737

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