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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.  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 1-2 (2)