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1.  Extra-Cellular Matrix Proteins Induce Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) Activity and Increase Airway Smooth Muscle Contraction in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90565.
Airway remodelling describes the histopathological changes leading to fixed airway obstruction in patients with asthma and includes extra-cellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) is present in remodelled airways but its relationship with ECM proteins and the resulting functional consequences are unknown. We used airway smooth muscle cells (ASM) and bronchial biopsies from control donors and patients with asthma to examine the regulation of MMP-1 by ECM in ASM cells and the effect of MMP-1 on ASM contraction. Collagen-I and tenascin-C induced MMP-1 protein expression, which for tenascin-C, was greater in asthma derived ASM cells. Tenascin-C induced MMP-1 expression was dependent on ERK1/2, JNK and p38 MAPK activation and attenuated by function blocking antibodies against the β1 and β3 integrin subunits. Tenascin-C and MMP-1 were not expressed in normal airways but co-localised in the ASM bundles and reticular basement membrane of patients with asthma. Further, ECM from asthma derived ASM cells stimulated MMP-1 expression to a greater degree than ECM from normal ASM. Bradykinin induced contraction of ASM cells seeded in 3D collagen gels was reduced by the MMP inhibitor ilomastat and by siRNA knockdown of MMP-1. In summary, the induction of MMP-1 in ASM cells by tenascin-C occurs in part via integrin mediated MAPK signalling. MMP-1 and tenascin-C are co-localised in the smooth muscle bundles of patients with asthma where this interaction may contribute to enhanced airway contraction. Our findings suggest that ECM changes in airway remodelling via MMP-1 could contribute to an environment promoting greater airway narrowing in response to broncho-constrictor stimuli and worsening asthma symptoms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090565
PMCID: PMC3938782  PMID: 24587395
2.  Overall asthma control achieved with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy for patients on different treatment steps 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):38.
Background
Adjusting medication for uncontrolled asthma involves selecting one of several options from the same or a higher treatment step outlined in asthma guidelines. We examined the relative benefit of introducing budesonide/formoterol (BUD/FORM) maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort SMART® Turbuhaler®) in patients previously prescribed treatments from Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Steps 2, 3 or 4.
Methods
This is a post hoc analysis of the results of five large clinical trials (>12000 patients) comparing BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy with other treatments categorised by treatment step at study entry. Both current clinical asthma control during the last week of treatment and exacerbations during the study were examined.
Results
At each GINA treatment step, the proportion of patients achieving target levels of current clinical control were similar or higher with BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy compared with the same or a higher fixed maintenance dose of inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA) (plus short-acting β2-agonist [SABA] as reliever), and rates of exacerbations were lower at all treatment steps in BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy versus same maintenance dose ICS/LABA (P < 0.01) and at treatment Step 4 versus higher maintenance dose ICS/LABA (P < 0.001). BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy also achieved significantly higher rates of current clinical control and significantly lower exacerbation rates at most treatment steps compared with a higher maintenance dose ICS + SABA (Steps 2-4 for control and Steps 3 and 4 for exacerbations). With all treatments, the proportion of patients achieving current clinical control was lower with increasing treatment steps.
Conclusions
BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy may be a preferable option for patients on Steps 2 to 4 of asthma guidelines requiring a more effective treatment and, compared with other fixed dose alternatives, is most effective in the higher treatment steps.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-38
PMCID: PMC3082240  PMID: 21463522
3.  The bioavailability and airway clearance of the steroid component of budesonide/formoterol and salmeterol/fluticasone after inhaled administration in patients with COPD and healthy subjects: a randomized controlled trial 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):104.
Background
Airway absorption and bioavailability of inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) may be influenced by differences in pharmacokinetic properties such as lipophilicity and patient characteristics such as lung function. This study aimed to further investigate and clarify the distribution of budesonide and fluticasone in patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by measuring the systemic availability and sputum concentration of budesonide and fluticasone, administered via combination inhalers with the respective long-acting β2-agonists, formoterol and salmeterol.
Methods
This was a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, two-way crossover, multicenter study. Following a run-in period, 28 patients with severe COPD (mean age 65 years, mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] 37.5% predicted normal) and 27 healthy subjects (mean age 31 years, FEV1 103.3% predicted normal) received two single-dose treatments of budesonide/formoterol (400/12 μg) and salmeterol/fluticasone (50/500 μg), separated by a 4–14-day washout period. ICS concentrations were measured over 10 hours post-inhalation in plasma in all subjects, and over 6 hours in spontaneously expectorated sputum in COPD patients. The primary end point was the area under the curve (AUC) of budesonide and fluticasone plasma concentrations in COPD patients relative to healthy subjects.
Results
Mean plasma AUC values were lower in COPD patients versus healthy subjects for budesonide (3.07 μM·hr versus 6.21 μM·hr) and fluticasone (0.84 μM·hr versus 1.50 μM·hr), and the dose-adjusted AUC (geometric mean) ratios in healthy subjects and patients with severe COPD for plasma budesonide and fluticasone were similar (2.02 versus 1.80; primary end point). In COPD patients, the Tmax and the mean residence time in the systemic circulation were shorter for budesonide versus fluticasone (15.5 min versus 50.8 min and 4.41 hrs versus 12.78 hrs, respectively) and Cmax was higher (1.08 μM versus 0.09 μM). The amount of expectorated fluticasone (percentage of estimated lung-deposited dose) in sputum over 6 hours was significantly higher versus budesonide (ratio 5.21; p = 0.006). Both treatments were well tolerated.
Conclusion
The relative systemic availabilities of budesonide and fluticasone between patients with severe COPD and healthy subjects were similar. In patients with COPD, a larger fraction of fluticasone was expectorated in the sputum as compared with budesonide.
Trial registration
Trial registration number NCT00379028
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-10-104
PMCID: PMC2780403  PMID: 19878590

Results 1-3 (3)