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author:("keino, Marina")
1.  Barrier Disrupting Effects of Alternaria Alternata Extract on Bronchial Epithelium from Asthmatic Donors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71278.
Sensitization and exposure to the allergenic fungus Alternaria alternata has been associated with increased risk of asthma and asthma exacerbations. The first cells to encounter inhaled allergens are epithelial cells at the airway mucosal surface. Epithelial barrier function has previously been reported to be defective in asthma. This study investigated the contribution of proteases from Alternaria alternata on epithelial barrier function and inflammatory responses and compared responses of in vitro cultures of differentiated bronchial epithelial cells derived from severely asthmatic donors with those from non-asthmatic controls. Polarised 16HBE cells or air-liquid interface (ALI) bronchial epithelial cultures from non-asthmatic or severe asthmatic donors were challenged apically with extracts of Alternaria and changes in inflammatory cytokine release and transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) were measured. Protease activity in Alternaria extracts was characterised and the effect of selectively inhibiting protease activity on epithelial responses was examined using protease inhibitors and heat-treatment. In 16HBE cells, Alternaria extracts stimulated release of IL-8 and TNFα, with concomitant reduction in TER; these effects were prevented by heat-treatment of the extracts. Examination of the effects of protease inhibitors suggested that serine proteases were the predominant class of proteases mediating these effects. ALI cultures from asthmatic donors exhibited a reduced IL-8 response to Alternaria relative to those from healthy controls, while neither responded with increased thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) release. Only cultures from asthmatic donors were susceptible to the barrier-weakening effects of Alternaria. Therefore, the bronchial epithelium of severely asthmatic individuals may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of Alternaria.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071278
PMCID: PMC3751915  PMID: 24009658
2.  Attenuated expression of tenascin-c in ovalbumin-challenged STAT4-/- mice 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):2.
Background
Asthma leads to structural changes in the airways, including the modification of extracellular matrix proteins such as tenascin-C. The role of tenascin-C is unclear, but it might act as an early initiator of airway wall remodelling, as its expression is increased in the mouse and human airways during allergic inflammation. In this study, we examined whether Th1 or Th2 cells are important regulators of tenascin-C in experimental allergic asthma utilizing mice with impaired Th1 (STAT4-/-) or Th2 (STAT6-/-) immunity.
Methods
Balb/c wildtype (WT), STAT4-/- and STAT6-/- mice were sensitized with intraperitoneally injected ovalbumin (OVA) followed by OVA or PBS airway challenge. Airway hyperreactivity (AHR) was measured and samples were collected. Real time PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to study cytokines and differences in the expression of tenascin-C. Tenascin-C expression was measured in human fibroblasts after treatment with TNF-α and IFN-γ in vitro.
Results
OVA-challenged WT mice showed allergic inflammation and AHR in the airways along with increased expression of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-4 and tenascin-C in the lungs. OVA-challenged STAT4-/- mice exhibited elevated AHR and pulmonary eosinophilia. The mRNA expression of TNF-α and IFN-γ was low, but the expression of IL-4 was significantly elevated in these mice. OVA-challenged STAT6-/- mice had neither AHR nor pulmonary eosinophilia, but had increased expression of mRNA for TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL-4. The expression of tenascin-C in the lungs of OVA-challenged STAT4-/- mice was weaker than in those of OVA-challenged WT and STAT6-/- mice suggesting that TNF-α and IFN-γ may regulate tenascin-C expression in vivo. The stimulation of human fibroblasts with TNF-α and IFN-γ induced the expression of tenascin-C confirming our in vivo findings.
Conclusions
Expression of tenascin-C is significantly attenuated in the airways of STAT4-/- mice, which may be due to the impaired secretion of TNF-α and IFN-γ in these mice.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-2
PMCID: PMC3024219  PMID: 21205293
3.  Smad3 -signalling and Th2 cytokines in normal mouse airways and in a mouse model of asthma 
This study investigates the role of Smad3 signalling for the T-helper2 (Th2) cytokine homeostasis in normal lungs and in a mouse model of asthma.
We used mice deficient for Smad3, a central part of the major signal transduction pathway for TGF-β and other related cytokines, and a mouse model for allergic asthma with ovalbumin (OVA) as the antigen.
Compared to wild type mice, naive (unmanipulated) Smad3-/- mice exhibited significantly increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines and IL-4 as well as the Th2 associated transcription factor GATA-3 in the lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). In the asthma model, mucin secretion and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) after allergen exposure was significantly increased in the Smad3-/- mice as compared to wild type (WT) mice. IL-4 levels in Smad3-/- were similar to those encountered in WT mice but IL-13 levels were decreased in the airways of OVA sensitized Smad3-/- mice compared to corresponding WT mice.
The results indicate that a lack of Smad3 dependent signalling in the normal state will lead to an increase in the GATA-3 levels and as a result of this the levels of IL-4 increase. However, the lack of Smad3 also seems to inhibit expression of some cytokines, especially IL-13. Our results also indicate that in the inflammatory state TGF-β or related cytokines functions to counterbalance the effects of IL-4 rather than to critically regulate its expression.
PMCID: PMC2096738  PMID: 18071588
Smad3; TGF-β; Asthma.

Results 1-3 (3)