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1.  Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal (BET) proteins suppress nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) -mediated antioxidant gene expression 
Oxidative stress, a pathogenetic factor in many conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) arises due to accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and defective antioxidant defences in the lungs. The latter is due, at least in part, to impaired activation of nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a transcription factor involved in the activation of antioxidant and cytoprotective genes. The bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) proteins, Brd2, Brd3, Brd4 and BrdT, bind to acetylated lysine residues on histone or non-histone proteins recruiting transcriptional regulators and thus activating or repressing gene transcription. We investigated whether BET proteins modulate the regulation of Nrf2-dependent gene expression in primary human airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs) and the human monocytic cell line, THP-1. Inhibition of BET protein bromodomains using the inhibitor JQ1+, or attenuation of Brd2 and Brd4 expression using siRNA led to activation of Nrf2-dependent transcription and expression of the antioxidant proteins heme oxygenase (HO)-1, NADPH quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) and glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit (GCLC). Also, JQ1+ prevented hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced intracellular ROS production. By co-immunoprecipitation, BET proteins were found to be complexed with Nrf2, whilst chromatin-immunoprecipitation studies indicated recruitment of Brd2 and Brd4 to Nrf2-binding sites on the promoters of HO-1 and NQO1. BET proteins, particularly Brd2 and Brd4, may play a key role in the regulation of Nrf2-dependent antioxidant gene transcription and are hence an important target for augmenting antioxidant responses in oxidative stress-mediated diseases.
PMCID: PMC4011694  PMID: 24733848
2.  Interaction of Pattern Recognition Receptors with Mycobacterium Tuberculosis 
Tuberculosis (TB) is considered a major worldwide health problem with 10 million new cases diagnosed each year. Our understanding of TB immunology has become greater and more refined since the identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) as an etiologic agent and the recognition of new signaling pathways modulating infection. Understanding the mechanisms through which the cells of the immune system recognize MTB can be an important step in designing novel therapeutic approaches, as well as improving the limited success of current vaccination strategies. A great challenge in chronic disease is to understand the complexities, mechanisms, and consequences of host interactions with pathogens. Innate immune responses along with the involvement of distinct inflammatory mediators and cells play an important role in the host defense against the MTB. Several classes of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) are involved in the recognition of MTB including Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs), C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) and Nod-like receptors (NLRs) linked to inflammasome activation. Among the TLR family, TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9 and their down-stream signaling proteins play critical roles in the initiation of the immune response in the pathogenesis of TB. The inflammasome pathway is associated with the coordinated release of cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-18 which also play a role in the pathogenesis of TB. Understanding the cross-talk between these signaling pathways will impact on the design of novel therapeutic strategies and in the development of vaccines and immunotherapy regimes. Abnormalities in PRR signaling pathways regulated by TB will affect disease pathogenesis and need to be elucidated. In this review we provide an update on PRR signaling during M. tuberculosis infection and indicate how greater knowledge of these pathways may lead to new therapeutic opportunities.
PMCID: PMC4306732  PMID: 25312698
Tuberculosis; TLRs; inflammasome
3.  Decreased percentage of CD4+Foxp3+TGF-β+ and increased percentage of CD4+IL-17+ cells in bronchoalveolar lavage of asthmatics 
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways with the proven role of Th2 cells in its pathogenesis. The role and characteristic of different subsets of CD4+ cells is much less known.
The aim of the study was to analyze the incidence of different subsets of CD4+ T cells, in particular different subsets of CD4+ cells with the co-expression of different cytokines.
Twenty five stable asthmatic and twelve age-matched control subjects were recruited to the study. Bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were performed in all study subjects. CD4+ T cells were isolated from BAL fluid by positive magnetic selection. After stimulation simultaneous expression of TGF-β, FoxP3, CD25, IFN-γ, IL-4, TNF-α (set 1); IL-10, FoxP3, CD25, IFN-γ, IL-4, MIP-1β (set 2); IL-17A, IL-8, IFN-γ, IL-4, MIP-1β (set 3) were measured by flow cytometry.
The percentage of CD4+ cells co-expressing Foxp3 and TGF-β (CD4+Foxp3+TGF-β+ cells) was significantly lower (P = 0.03), whereas the percentage of CD4+IL-17+ cells (P = 0.008), CD4+IL-17+ IFN-γ+ cells (P = 0.047) and CD4+IL-4+ cells (P = 0.01) were significantly increased in asthmatics compared with that seen in healthy subjects. A significantly higher percentage of CD4+Foxp3+ cells from asthma patients expressed IFN-γ (P = 0.01), IL-4 (P = 0.004) and CD25 (P = 0.04), whereas the percentage of CD4+IL-10+ cells expressing Foxp3 was significantly decreased in asthmatics (P = 0.03). FEV1% predicted correlated negatively with the percentage of CD4+IL-17+ cells (r = -0.33; P = 0.046) and positively with CD4+Foxp3+TGF-β+ cells (r = 0.43; P = 0.01).
Our results suggest that in the airways of chronic asthma patients there is an imbalance between increased numbers of CD4+IL-17+ cells and Th2 cells and decreased number of CD4+Foxp3+TGF-β+.
PMCID: PMC4133956  PMID: 25132806
Asthma; BAL; CD4+IL-17+ cells; CD4+Foxp3+TGF-β+ cells
4.  Elevated CXCL-8 expression in bronchoalveolar lavage correlates with disease severity in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting from tuberculosis 
Tuberculosis (TB) is a rare but known cause of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The role of inflammatory cytokines in the progression of ARDS in TB patients is unknown.
In this study we investigated the possible link between the levels of inflammatory cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) in patients with TB or ARDS alone or in patients with TB-induced ARDS (ARDS + TB).
90 patients were studied: 30 with TB alone, 30 with ARDS alone and 30 with ARDS + TB. BAL was collected by fiberoptic bronchoscopy and the concentrations of interleukin(IL)-6, CXCL8, TNF-α and IL-1β and the amounts of total protein were measured by ELISA and bicinchoninic acid assay (BCA) methods respectively. The correlation between disease severity measured by Murray scores, SOFA and APACHE II analysis and BAL mediators and cells was also determined.
CXCL8 levels in BAL were significantly higher in the ARDS + TB group compared to TB and ARDS alone groups. Disease severity in the ARDS + TB group as determined by Murray score correlated with BAL CXCL8 and neutrophils but not with IL-6, IL-1β and TNF-α concentrations. In addition, CXCL8 levels and neutrophils were increased in non-miliary TB versus miliary TB. This difference in CXCL8 was lost in the presence of ARDS.
BAL CXCL8 levels were significantly higher in patients with ARDS induced by TB and could suggest an important role of CXCL8 in the pathogenesis of this form of ARDS. This further suggests that CXCL8 inhibitors or blockers may be useful to control the onset and/or development of these combined diseases.
PMCID: PMC4126912  PMID: 25110464
ARDS; TB; CXCL8 and neutrophils
5.  Airway Smooth Muscle Hyperproliferation Is Regulated by MicroRNA-221 in Severe Asthma 
Increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass is a feature of asthmatic airways, and could result from augmented proliferation. We determined whether proliferation and IL-6 release are abnormal in ASM cells (ASMCs) from patients with severe asthma, and whether these features could be mediated by microRNA-221 and microRNA-222, through modulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21WAF1 and p27kip1. ASMCs cultured from bronchial biopsies of healthy subjects and patients with nonsevere or severe asthma were studied. Proliferation was measured by the incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine and IL-6 by ELISA. FCS and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β caused greater proliferation and IL-6 release in patients with severe compared with nonsevere asthma and normal subjects. FCS + TGF-β inhibited p21WAF1 and p27kip1 expression, and increased microRNA-221 (miR-221) expression in ASMCs from individuals with severe asthma. miR-221, and not miR-222, mimics the increased proliferation and IL-6 release induced by FCS + TGF in healthy ASM, whereas in patients with severe asthma, the inhibition of miR-221, but not miR-222, inhibited proliferation and IL-6 release. miR-221 inhibition led to the increased expression of FCS + TGF-β–induced p21WAF1 and p27kip1. Dexamethasone suppressed proliferation in healthy subjects, but not in subjects with asthma. IL-6 was less suppressible by dexamethasone in patients with nonsevere and severe asthma, compared with healthy subjects. miR-221 did not influence the effects of dexamethasone. ASM from patients with severe asthma shows greater proliferation and IL-6 release than in patients with nonsevere asthma, but both groups show corticosteroid insensitivity. miR-221 regulates p21WAF1 and p27kip1 expression levels. Furthermore, miR-221 regulates the hyperproliferation and IL-6 release of ASMCs from patients with severe asthma, but does not regulate corticosteroid insensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3930931  PMID: 23944957
microRNA; ASM; proliferation; IL-6; steroid insensitivity
6.  How Variability in Clinical Phenotypes Should Guide Research into Disease Mechanisms in Asthma 
Annals of the American Thoracic Society  2013;10(Suppl):S109-S117.
Asthma is increasingly being considered as a collection of different phenotypes that present with intermittent wheezing. Unbiased approaches to classifying asthma have led to the identification of distinct phenotypes based on age of onset of disease, atopic state, disease severity or activity, degree of chronic airflow obstruction, and sputum eosinophilia. Linking phenotypes to known disease mechanism is likely to be more fruitful in determining the potential targets necessary for successful therapies of specific endotypes. A “Th2-high expression” signature from the epithelium of patients with asthma identifies a subset of patients with high eosinophilia and good therapeutic responsiveness to corticosteroids. Other characteristic traits of asthma include noneosinophilic asthma, corticosteroid insensitivity, obesity-associated, and exacerbation-prone. Further progress into asthma mechanisms will be driven by unbiased data integration of multiscale data sets from omics technologies with those phenotypic characteristics and by using mathematical modeling. This will lead to the discovery of new pathways and their integration into endotypes and also set up further hypothesis-driven research. Continued iteration through experimentation or modeling will be needed to refine the phenotypes that relate to outcomes and also delineate specific treatments for specific phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3960989  PMID: 24313760
8.  Role of non-coding RNAs in maintaining primary airway smooth muscle cells 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):58.
The airway smooth muscle (ASM) cell maintains its own proliferative rate and contributes to the inflammatory response in the airways, effects that are inhibited by corticosteroids, used in the treatment of airways diseases.
We determined the differential expression of mRNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNA species (lncRNAs) in primary ASM cells following treatment with a corticosteroid, dexamethasone, and fetal calf serum (FCS).
mRNA, miRNA and lncRNA expression was measured by microarray and quantitative real-time PCR.
A small number of miRNAs (including miR-150, −371-5p, −718, −940, −1181, −1207-5p, −1915, and −3663-3p) were decreased following exposure to dexamethasone and FCS. The mRNA targets of these miRNAs were increased in expression. The changes in mRNA expression were associated with regulation of ASM actin cytoskeleton. We also observed changes in expression of lncRNAs, including natural antisense, pseudogenes, intronic lncRNAs, and intergenic lncRNAs following dexamethasone and FCS. We confirmed the change in expression of three of these, LINC00882, LINC00883, PVT1, and its transcriptional activator, c-MYC. We propose that four of these lincRNAs (RP11-46A10.4, LINC00883, BCYRN1, and LINC00882) act as miRNA ‘sponges’ for 4 miRNAs (miR-150, −371-5p, −940, −1207-5p).
This in-vitro model of primary ASM cell phenotype was associated with the regulation of several ncRNAs. Their identification allows for in-vitro functional experimentation to establish causality with the primary ASM phenotype, and in airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
PMCID: PMC4039655  PMID: 24886442
Lung disease; Dexamethasone; Transcriptome; Long noncoding RNA; microRNA
9.  Cytokine inhibition in the treatment of COPD 
Cytokines play an important part in many pathobiological processes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including the chronic inflammatory process, emphysema, and altered innate immune response. Proinflammatory cytokines of potential importance include tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon-γ, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-17, IL-18, IL-32, and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), and growth factors such as transforming growth factor-β. The current objectives of COPD treatment are to reduce symptoms, and to prevent and reduce the number of exacerbations. While current treatments achieve these goals to a certain extent, preventing the decline in lung function is not currently achievable. In addition, reversal of corticosteroid insensitivity and control of the fibrotic process while reducing the emphysematous process could also be controlled by specific cytokines. The abnormal pathobiological process of COPD may contribute to these fundamental characteristics of COPD, and therefore targeting cytokines involved may be a fruitful endeavor. Although there has been much work that has implicated various cytokines as potentially playing an important role in COPD, there have been very few studies that have examined the effect of specific cytokine blockade in COPD. The two largest studies that have been reported in the literature involve the use of blocking antibody to TNFα and CXCL8 (IL-8), and neither has provided benefit. Blocking the actions of CXCL8 through its CXCR2 receptor blockade was not successful either. Studies of antibodies against IL-17, IL-18, IL-1β, and TSLP are currently either being undertaken or planned. There is a need to carefully phenotype COPD and discover good biomarkers of drug efficacy for each specific target. Specific groups of COPD patients should be targeted with specific anticytokine therapy if there is evidence of high expression of that cytokine and there are features of the clinical expression of COPD that will respond.
PMCID: PMC4010626  PMID: 24812504
airway inflammation; COPD; exacerbations; new drugs; cytokine blockers
10.  Brd4 Is Essential for IL-1β-Induced Inflammation in Human Airway Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95051.
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are key features of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Oxidative stress enhances COPD inflammation under the control of the pro-inflammatory redox-sensitive transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB). Histone acetylation plays a critical role in chronic inflammation and bromodomain and extra terminal (BET) proteins act as “readers” of acetylated histones. Therefore, we examined the role of BET proteins in particular Brd2 and Brd4 and their inhibitors (JQ1 and PFI-1) in oxidative stress- enhanced inflammation in human bronchial epithelial cells.
Human primary epithelial (NHBE) cells and BEAS-2B cell lines were stimulated with IL-1β (inflammatory stimulus) in the presence or absence of H2O2 (oxidative stress) and the effect of pre-treatment with bromodomain inhibitors (JQ1 and PFI-1) was investigated. Pro-inflammatory mediators (CXCL8 and IL-6) were measured by ELISA and transcripts by RT-PCR. H3 and H4 acetylation and recruitment of p65 and Brd4 to the native IL-8 and IL-6 promoters was investigated using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). The impact of Brd2 and Brd4 siRNA knockdown on inflammatory mediators was also investigated.
H2O2 enhanced IL1β-induced IL-6 and CXCL8 expression in NHBE and BEAS-2B cells whereas H2O2 alone did not have any affect. H3 acetylation at the IL-6 and IL-8 promoters was associated with recruitment of p65 and Brd4 proteins. Although p65 acetylation was increased this was not directly targeted by Brd4. The BET inhibitors JQ1 and PFI-1 significantly reduced IL-6 and CXCL8 expression whereas no effect was seen with the inactive enantiomer JQ1(-). Brd4, but not Brd2, knockdown markedly reduced IL-6 and CXCL8 release. JQ1 also inhibited p65 and Brd4 recruitment to the IL-6 and IL-8 promoters.
Oxidative stress enhanced IL1β-induced IL-6 and CXCL8 expression was significantly reduced by Brd4 inhibition. Brd4 plays an important role in the regulation of inflammatory genes and provides a potential novel anti-inflammatory target.
PMCID: PMC3997389  PMID: 24759736
11.  Sputum myeloperoxidase in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Airway inflammation, especially neutrophilic airway inflammation, is a cardinal pathophysiologic feature in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. The ideal biomarkers characterizing the inflammation might have important potential clinical applications in disease assessment and therapeutic intervention. Sputum myeloperoxidase (MPO) is recognized as a marker of neutrophil activity. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to determine whether sputum MPO levels could reflect disease status or be regulated by regular medications for COPD.
Studies were identified by searching PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Database, CINAHL and for relevant reports published before September 2012. Observational studies comparing sputum MPO in COPD patients and healthy subjects or asthmatics, or within the COPD group, and studies comparing sputum MPO before and after treatment were all included. Data were independently extracted by two investigators and analyzed using STATA 10.0 software.
A total of 24 studies were included in the meta-analysis. Sputum MPO levels were increased in stable COPD patients when compared with normal controls, and this increase was especially pronounced during exacerbations as compared with MPO levels during the stable state. Theophylline treatment was able to reduce MPO levels in COPD patients, while glucocorticoid treatment failed to achieve the same result.
Sputum MPO might be a promising biomarker for guiding COPD management; however, further investigations are needed to confirm this.
PMCID: PMC4016613  PMID: 24588870
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Myeloperoxidase; Sputum; Biomarker
12.  Tumour Necrosis Factor-α Regulates Human Eosinophil Apoptosis via Ligation of TNF-Receptor 1 and Balance between NF-κB and AP-1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90298.
Eosinophils play a central role in asthma. The present study was performed to investigate the effect of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on longevity of isolated human eosinophils. In contrast to Fas, TNF-α inhibited eosinophil apoptosis as evidenced by a combination of flow cytometry, DNA fragmentation assay and morphological analyses. The effect of TNF-α on eosinophil apoptosis was reversed by a TNF-α neutralising antibody. The anti-apoptotic effect of TNF-α was not due to autocrine release of known survival-prolonging cytokines interleukins 3 and 5 or granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating factor as their neutralisation did not affect the effect of TNF-α. The anti-apoptotic signal was mediated mainly by the TNF-receptor 1. TNF-α induced phosphorylation and degradation of IκB and an increase in NF-κB DNA-binding activity. The survival-prolonging effect of TNF-α was reversed by inhibitors of NF-κB pyrrolidinedithiocarbamate and gliotoxin and by an inhibitor of IκB kinase, BMS-345541. TNF-α induced also an increase in AP-1 DNA-binding activity and the antiapoptotic effect of TNF-α was potentiated by inhibitors of AP-1, SR 11302 and tanshinone IIA and by an inhibitor of c-jun-N-terminal kinase, SP600125, which is an upstream kinase activating AP-1. Our results thus suggest that TNF-α delays human eosinophil apoptosis via TNF-receptor 1 and the resulting changes in longevity depend on yin-yang balance between activation of NF-κB and AP-1.
PMCID: PMC3938678  PMID: 24587316
13.  Profile of fluticasone furoate/vilanterol dry powder inhaler combination therapy as a potential treatment for COPD 
Currently, there is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The limited efficacy of current therapies for COPD indicates a pressing need to develop new treatments to prevent the progression of the disease, which consumes a significant amount of health care resources and is an important cause of mortality worldwide. Current national and international guidelines for the management of stable COPD patients recommend the use of inhaled long-acting bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, and their combination for maintenance treatment of moderate to severe stable COPD. Once-daily fluticasone furoate/vilanterol dry powder inhaler combination therapy has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency as a new regular treatment for patients with stable COPD. Fluticasone furoate/vilanterol dry powder inhaler combination therapy has been shown to be effective in many controlled clinical trials involving thousands of patients in the regular treatment of stable COPD. This is the first once-daily combination of ultra-long-acting inhaled β2-agonists and inhaled glucocorticoids that is available for the treatment of stable COPD and has great potential to improve compliance to long-term regular inhaled therapy and hence to improve the natural history and prognosis of COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3940640  PMID: 24596460
COPD; LABA; ULABA; ICS; bronchodilator; new drugs
14.  Epigenetics and Chromatin Remodeling Play a Role in Lung Disease 
Tanaffos  2011;10(4):7-16.
Epigenetics is defined as heritable changes that affect gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is facilitated through different mechanisms such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and RNA-associated silencing by small non-coding RNAs. All these mechanisms are crucial for normal development, differentiation and tissue-specific gene expression. These three systems interact and stabilize one another and can initiate and sustain epigenetic silencing, thus determining heritable changes in gene expression. Histone acetylation regulates diverse cellular functions including inflammatory gene expression, DNA repair and cell proliferation. Transcriptional coactivators possess intrinsic histone acetyltransferase activity and this activity drives inflammatory gene expression. Eleven classical histone deacetylases (HDACs) act to regulate the expression of distinct subsets of inflammatory/immune genes. Thus, loss of HDAC activity or the presence of HDAC inhibitors can further enhance inflammatory gene expression by producing a gene-specific change in HAT activity. For example, HDAC2 expression and activity are reduced in lung macrophages, biopsy specimens, and blood cells from patients with severe asthma and smoking asthmatics, as well as in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This may account, at least in part, for the enhanced inflammation and reduced steroid responsiveness seen in these patients. Other proteins, particularly transcription factors, are also acetylated and are targets for deacetylation by HDACs and sirtuins, a related family of 7 predominantly protein deacetylases. Thus the acetylation/deacetylation status of NF-κB and the glucocorticoid receptor can also affect the overall expression pattern of inflammatory genes and regulate the inflammatory response. Understanding and targeting specific enzymes involved in this process might lead to new therapeutic agents, particularly in situations in which current anti-inflammatory therapies are suboptimal.
PMCID: PMC4153170  PMID: 25191382
HDAC; Inflammatory cells; COPD; Asthma
15.  Correction: Cigarette Smoke Induced Airway Inflammation Is Independent of NF-κB Signalling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):10.1371/annotation/754d7b19-2dac-479b-a23c-db9fed0431be.
PMCID: PMC3806935
16.  Nuclear Factor κ-B Is Activated in the Pulmonary Vessels of Patients with End-Stage Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75415.
To assess activation of the inflammatory transcription factor NF-kappa B (NF-κB) in human idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
Idiopathic PAH is a severe progressive disease characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling and excessive proliferation of vascular cells. Increasing evidence indicates that inflammation is important in disease pathophysiology.
NF-κB-p65 and CD68, CD20 and CD45 were measured by immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy on lung specimens from patients with idiopathic PAH (n = 12) and controls undergoing lung surgery (n = 14). Clinical data were recorded for all patients including invasive pulmonary hemodynamics for the PAH patients. Immunohistochemical images were analyzed by blinded observers to include standard pulmonary vascular morphometry; absolute macrophage counts/mm2 and p65-positivity (p65+) using composite images and image-analysis software; and cytoplasmic:nuclear p65+ of individual pulmonary arterial endothelial and smooth muscle cells (PASMC) in 10–20 pulmonary arteries or arterioles per subject. The expression of ET-1 and CCL5 (RANTES) in whole lung was determined by RT-qPCR.
Macrophage numbers were increased in idiopathic PAH versus controls (49.0±4.5 vs. 7.95±1.9 macrophages/100 mm2, p<0.0001): these macrophages demonstrated more nuclear p65+ than in macrophages from controls (16.9±2.49 vs. 3.5±1.25%, p<0.001). An increase in p65+ was also seen in perivascular lymphocytes in patients with PAH. Furthermore, NF-κB activation was increased in pulmonary arterial endothelial cells (62.3±2.9 vs. 14.4±3.8, p<0.0001) and PASMC (22.6±2.3 vs. 11.2±2.0, p<0.001) in patients with PAH versus controls, with similar findings in arterioles. Gene expression of both ET-1 mRNA ((0.213±0.069 vs. 1.06±0.23, p<0.01) and CCL5 (RANTES) (0.16±0.045 vs. 0.26±0.039, p<0.05) was increased in whole lung homogenates from patients with PAH.
NF-κB is activated in pulmonary macrophages, lymphocytes, endothelial and PASMC in patients with end-stage idiopathic PAH. Future research should determine whether NF-κB activation is a driver or bystander of pulmonary vascular inflammation and if the former, its potential role as a therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3790752  PMID: 24124488
17.  Rhinovirus Infection Induces Degradation of Antimicrobial Peptides and Secondary Bacterial Infection in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations are associated with virus (mostly rhinovirus) and bacterial infections, but it is not known whether rhinovirus infections precipitate secondary bacterial infections.
Objectives: To investigate relationships between rhinovirus infection and bacterial infection and the role of antimicrobial peptides in COPD exacerbations.
Methods: We infected subjects with moderate COPD and smokers and nonsmokers with normal lung function with rhinovirus. Induced sputum was collected before and repeatedly after rhinovirus infection and virus and bacterial loads measured with quantitative polymerase chain reaction and culture. The antimicrobial peptides secretory leukoprotease inhibitor (SLPI), elafin, pentraxin, LL-37, α-defensins and β-defensin-2, and the protease neutrophil elastase were measured in sputum supernatants.
Measurements and Main Results: After rhinovirus infection, secondary bacterial infection was detected in 60% of subjects with COPD, 9.5% of smokers, and 10% of nonsmokers (P < 0.001). Sputum virus load peaked on Days 5–9 and bacterial load on Day 15. Sputum neutrophil elastase was significantly increased and SLPI and elafin significantly reduced after rhinovirus infection exclusively in subjects with COPD with secondary bacterial infections, and SLPI and elafin levels correlated inversely with bacterial load.
Conclusions: Rhinovirus infections are frequently followed by secondary bacterial infections in COPD and cleavage of the antimicrobial peptides SLPI and elafin by virus-induced neutrophil elastase may precipitate these secondary bacterial infections. Therapy targeting neutrophil elastase or enhancing innate immunity may be useful novel therapies for prevention of secondary bacterial infections in virus-induced COPD exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC3530206  PMID: 23024024
rhinovirus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; disease exacerbation; bacteria
18.  Probiotics in the Management of Lung Diseases 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:751068.
The physiology and pathology of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts are closely related. This similarity between the two organs may underlie why dysfunction in one organ may induce illness in the other. For example, smoking is a major risk factor for COPD and IBD and increases the risk of developing Crohn's disease. Probiotics have been defined as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits on the host.” In model systems probiotics regulate innate and inflammatory immune responses. Commonly used probiotics include lactic acid bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces, and these are often used as dietary supplements to provide a health benefit in gastrointestinal diseases including infections, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. In this respect, probiotics probably act as immunomodulatory agents and activators of host defence pathways which suggest that they could influence disease severity and incidence at sites distal to the gut. There is increasing evidence that orally delivered probiotics are able to regulate immune responses in the respiratory system. This review provides an overview of the possible role of probiotics and their mechanisms of action in the prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3662166  PMID: 23737654
19.  Inhibition of CD73 improves B cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity in a mouse model of melanoma 
CD73 is a cell surface enzyme that suppresses T-cell mediated immune responses, by producing extracellular adenosine. Increasing evidence suggest that targeting CD73 in cancer may be useful for an effective therapeutic outcome. Here, we demonstrate that administration of a specific CD73 inhibitor, APCP, to melanoma-bearing mice induced a significant tumor regression, by promoting the release of Th1- and Th17-associated cytokines in the tumor microenvironment. CD8+T cells were increased in melanoma tissue of APCP-treated mice. Accordingly, in nude mice APCP failed to reduce tumor growth. Importantly, we observed that after APCP administration the presence of B cells into the melanoma tissue was higher than control. This was associated with production of immunoglobulin (Ig)G2b within the melanoma. Depletion of CD20+ B cells partially blocked the anti-tumor effect of APCP and significantly reduced the production of IgG2b induced by APCP, implying a critical role for B cells in the anti-tumor activity of APCP. Our results also suggest that APCP could influence B cells activity to produce IgG, through IL-17A which significantly increased in the tumor tissue of APCP-treated mice. In support of this, we found that in melanoma-bearing mice receiving anti-IL-17A mAb the anti-tumor effect of APCP was ablated. This correlated with a reduced capacity of APCP-treated mice to mount an effective immune response against melanoma since neutralization of this cytokine significantly affected both the CD8+ T cell- and the B cell-mediated responses. In conclusion, we demonstrate that both T-cells and B cells play a pivotal role in the APCP-induced anti-tumor immune response.
PMCID: PMC3442235  PMID: 22826317
APCP; melanoma; Tumor immunity; B cells; IL-17A
21.  Cigarette Smoke Induced Airway Inflammation Is Independent of NF-κB Signalling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54128.
COPD is an inflammatory lung disease largely associated with exposure to cigarette smoke (CS). The mechanism by which CS leads to the pathogenesis of COPD is currently unclear; it is known however that many of the inflammatory mediators present in the COPD lung can be produced via the actions of the transcription factor Nuclear Factor-kappaB (NF-κB) and its upstream signalling kinase, Inhibitor of κB kinase-2 (IKK-2). Therefore the NF-κB/IKK-2 signalling pathway may represent a therapeutic target to attenuate the inflammation associated with COPD.
To use a range of assays, genetically modified animals and pharmacological tools to determine the role of NF-κB in CS-induced airway inflammation.
NF-κB pathway activation was measured in pre-clinical models of CS-induced airway inflammation and in human lung tissue from COPD patients. This data was complemented by employing mice missing a functional NF-κB pathway in specific cell types (epithelial and myeloid cells) and with systemic inhibitors of IKK-2.
We showed in an airway inflammation model known to be NF-κB-dependent that the NF-κB pathway activity assays and modulators were functional in the mouse lung. Then, using the same methods, we demonstrated that the NF-κB pathway appears not to play an important role in the inflammation observed after exposure to CS. Furthermore, assaying human lung tissue revealed that in the clinical samples there was also no increase in NF-κB pathway activation in the COPD lung, suggesting that our pre-clinical data is translational to human disease.
In this study we present compelling evidence that the IKK-2/NF-κB signalling pathway does not play a prominent role in the inflammatory response to CS exposure and that this pathway may not be important in COPD pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3551940  PMID: 23349803
22.  Statins as potential therapeutic drug for asthma? 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):108.
Statins are lipid-lowering agents that also exhibit pleiotropic effects in decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. There have been several published studies reporting the use of statins in the treatment of asthma patients, but their results are not consistent. The aim of this study is to determine whether statins are beneficial for asthma administration, and explore the potential covariables that may affect their clinical effectiveness.
A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials from inception to September 2012. Randomized controlled trials (RCT), retrospective studies and controlled clinical trials which reported the use of statins in the treatment of asthma patients were eligible. Quality evaluation was conducted for RCT using Jadad criteria.
A total of 18 articles were included. In our study, we found no conclusive evidence to demonstrate that statins could enhance the lung function in asthmatics, although, they may reduce airway inflammation. Additionally, the results were not consistent across studies with respect to symptoms, quality of life, maintenance medication, asthma hospitalization/emergency department (ED) visits.
Statins may reduce airway inflammation in asthmatics, without having a significant effect on lung function. Further large sample and multicenter clinical trials are needed to confirm this and to see if there are more responsive phenotypes of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3545889  PMID: 23176705
Statins; Asthma; Anti-inflammatory; Lung function
23.  Adoptive Immunotherapy with Cl-IB-MECA-Treated CD8+ T Cells Reduces Melanoma Growth in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45401.
Cl-IB-MECA is a selective A3 adenosine receptor agonist, which plays a crucial role in limiting tumor progression. In mice, Cl-IB-MECA administration enhances the anti-tumor T cell-mediated response. However, little is known about the activity of Cl-IB-MECA on CD8+ T cells. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ex vivo Cl-IB-MECA treatment of CD8+ T cells, adoptively transferred in melanoma-bearing mice. Adoptive transfer of Cl-IB-MECA-treated CD8+ T cells or a single administration of Cl-IB-MECA (20 ng/mouse) inhibited tumor growth compared with the control group and significantly improved mouse survival. This was associated with the release of Th1-type cytokines and a greater influx of mature Langerin+ dendritic cells (LCs) into the tumor microenvironment. CD8+ T cells treated with Cl-IB-MECA released TNF-α which plays a critical role in the therapeutic efficacy of these cells when injected to mice. Indeed, neutralization of TNF-α by a specific monoclonal Ab significantly blocked the anti-tumor activity of Cl-IB-MECA-treated T cells. This was due to the reduction in levels of cytotoxic cytokines and the presence of fewer LCs. In conclusion, these studies reveal that ex vivo treatment with Cl-IB-MECA improves CD8+ T cell adoptive immunotherapy for melanoma in a TNF-α-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC3454429  PMID: 23028986
24.  Oxidative Stress–induced Antibodies to Carbonyl-modified Protein Correlate with Severity of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: There is increasing evidence for the presence of autoantibodies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic oxidative stress is an essential component in COPD pathogenesis and can lead to increased levels of highly reactive carbonyls in the lung, which could result in the formation of highly immunogenic carbonyl adducts on “self” proteins.
Objectives: To determine the presence of autoantibodies to carbonyl-modified protein in patients with COPD and in a murine model of chronic ozone exposure. To assess the extent of activated immune responses toward carbonyl-modified proteins.
Methods: Blood and peripheral lung were taken from patients with COPD, age-matched smokers, and nonsmokers with normal lung function, as well as patients with severe persistent asthma. Mice were exposed to ambient air or ozone for 6 weeks. Antibody titers were measured by ELISA, activated compliment deposition by immunohistochemistry, and cellular activation by ELISA and fluorescence-activated cell sorter.
Measurements and Main Results: Antibody titer against carbonyl-modified self-protein was significantly increased in patients with Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage III COPD compared with control subjects. Antibody levels inversely correlated with disease severity and showed a prevalence toward an IgG1 isotype. Deposition of activated complement in the vessels of COPD lung as well as autoantibodies against endothelial cells were also observed. Ozone-exposed mice similarly exhibited increased antibody titers to carbonyl-modified protein, as well as activated antigen-presenting cells in lung tissue and splenocytes sensitized to activation by carbonyl-modified protein.
Conclusions: Carbonyl-modified proteins, arising as a result of oxidative stress, promote antibody production, providing a link by which oxidative stress could drive an autoimmune response in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3398415  PMID: 21965015
COPD; autoimmunity; oxidative stress; carbonyl
25.  STAT6 expression in T cells, alveolar macrophages and bronchial biopsies of normal and asthmatic subjects 
Asthma is characterised by increased numbers of Th2-like cells in the airways and IgE secretion. Generation of Th2 cells requires interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 acting through their specific receptors and activating the transcription factor, signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6). STAT6 knockout mice fail to produce IgE, airway hyperresponsiveness and bronchoalveolar lavage eosinophilia after allergen sensitisation, suggesting a critical role for STAT6 in allergic responses.
We have investigated the expression of STAT6 in peripheral blood T-lymphocytes, alveolar macrophages and bronchial biopsies from 17 normal subjects and 18 mild-moderate steroid-naïve stable asthmatic patients.
STAT6 expression was variable and was detected in T-lymphocytes, macrophages and bronchial epithelial cells from all subjects with no difference between normal and stable asthmatic subjects.
STAT6 expression in different cells suggests that it may be important in regulating the expression of not only Th2-like cytokines in T cells of man, but may also regulate STAT-inducible genes in alveolar macrophages and airway epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3364916  PMID: 22401596
Airway epithelial cells; Alveolar macrophages; Asthma; STAT6; T-cells; Th2 cells

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