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1.  Inhaled birch pollen extract induces airway hyperresponsiveness via oxidative stress but independently of pollen-intrinsic NADPH oxidase activity, or the Toll-like receptor 4-TRIF pathway 
Oxidative stress in allergic asthma may result from oxidase activity or pro-inflammatory molecules in pollens. Signaling via TLR4 and its adaptor TRIF has been implicated in reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated acute lung injury and in T helper 2 immune responses. We investigated the contributions of oxidative stress and TLR4/TRIF signaling to experimental asthma induced by birch pollen exposure exclusively via the airways. Mice were exposed to native or heat-inactivated white birch pollen extract (BPEx) intratracheally and injected with the antioxidants, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) or dimethylthiourea (DMTU) prior to sensitization, challenge, or all allergen exposures, to assess the role of oxidative stress and pollen-intrinsic NADPH oxidase activity in allergic sensitization, inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). Additionally, TLR4 signaling was antagonized concomitantly with allergen exposure, or the development of allergic airway disease was evaluated in TLR4 or TRIF knockout mice. NAC inhibited BPEx-induced eosinophilic airway inflammation and AHR except when given exclusively during sensitization, whereas DMTU was inhibitory even when administered with the sensitization alone. Heat-inactivation of BPEx had no effect on the development of allergic airway disease. Oxidative stress-mediated AHR was also TLR4- and TRIF-independent, however, TLR4 deficiency decreased, while TRIF deficiency increased BPEx-induced airway inflammation. In conclusion, oxidative stress plays a significant role in allergic sensitization to pollen via the airway mucosa, but the pollen-intrinsic NADPH oxidase activity and TLR4 or TRIF signaling are unnecessary for the induction of allergic airway disease and AHR. Pollen extract does, however, activate TLR4, thereby enhancing airway inflammation which is restrained by the TRIF-dependent pathway.
PMCID: PMC3983962  PMID: 23776177
2.  AEOL10150: A Novel Therapeutic for Rescue Treatment Following Toxic Gas Lung Injury1 
Free radical biology & medicine  2010;50(5):602-608.
New therapeutics designed as rescue treatments following toxic gas injury such as chlorine (Cl2) are an emerging area of interest. We tested the effects of the metalloporphyrin catalytic antioxidant AEOL10150, a compound that scavenges peroxynitrite, inhibits lipid peroxidation, and has SOD and catalase-like activities, on Cl2-induced airway injury.
Balb/C mice received 100 ppm Cl2 gas for five minutes. Four groups were studied; Cl2 only, Cl2 followed by AEOL10150 one and nine hours after exposure, AEOL10150 only, and control. Twenty-four hours following Cl2 gas exposure airway responsiveness to aerosolized methacholine (6.25–50 mg/mL) was measured using a small animal ventilator. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed to assess airway inflammation and protein. Whole lung tissue was assayed for 4-hydroxynonenal. In separate groups, lungs were collected at 72 hours following Cl2 injury to evaluate epithelial cell proliferation.
Mice exposed to Cl2 showed a significantly higher airway resistance than control, Cl2/AEOL10150, or AEOL10150-only treated animals in response to methacholine challenge. Eosinophils, neutrophils and macrophages were elevated in BAL of Cl2-exposed mice. AEOL10150 attenuated the increases in neutrophils and macrophages. AEOL10150 prevented Cl2-induced increase in BAL fluid protein. Chlorine induced an increase in number of proliferating airway epithelial cells, an effect AEOL10150 attenuated. 4-hydroxynonenal levels in the lung were increased following Cl2 and this effect was prevented with AEOL10150.
AEOL10150 is an effective rescue treatment for Cl2-induced airway hyperresponsiveness, airway inflammation, injury-induced airway epithelial cell regeneration and oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC4026011  PMID: 21156205
3.  Concomitant Exposure to Ovalbumin and Endotoxin Augments Airway Inflammation but Not Airway Hyperresponsiveness in a Murine Model of Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98648.
Varying concentrations of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in ovalbumin (OVA) may influence the airway response to allergic sensitization and challenge. We assessed the contribution of LPS to allergic airway inflammatory responses following challenge with LPS-rich and LPS-free commercial OVA. BALB/c mice were sensitized with LPS-rich OVA and alum and then underwent challenge with the same OVA (10 µg intranasally) or an LPS-free OVA. Following challenge, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), airway responsiveness to methacholine and the lung regulatory T cell population (Treg) were assessed. Both OVA preparations induced BAL eosinophilia but LPS-rich OVA also evoked BAL neutrophilia. LPS-free OVA increased interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4 and IL-5 whereas LPS-rich OVA additionally increased IL-1β, IL-12, IFN-γ, TNF-α and KC. Both OVA-challenged groups developed airway hyperresponsiveness. TLR4-deficient mice challenged with either OVA preparation showed eosinophilia but not neutrophilia and had increased IL-5. Only LPS-rich OVA challenged mice had increased lung Tregs and LPS-rich OVA also induced in vitro Treg differentiation. LPS-rich OVA also induced a Th1 cytokine response in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.We conclude that LPS-rich OVA evokes mixed Th1, Th2 and innate immune responses through the TLR-4 pathway, whereas LPS-free OVA evokes only a Th2 response. Contaminating LPS is not required for induction of airway hyperresponsiveness but amplifies the Th2 inflammatory response and is a critical mediator of the neutrophil, Th1 and T regulatory cell responses to OVA.
PMCID: PMC4072597  PMID: 24968337
4.  Sphingosine 1-Phosphate (S1P) Induced Interleukin-8 (IL-8) Release Is Mediated by S1P Receptor 2 and Nuclear Factor κB in BEAS-2B Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95566.
The airway epithelium may release pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the asthmatic airway. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a bioactive lipid, increased in the airways of asthmatics, that may trigger the release of the potent neutrophil chemoattractant Interleukin-8 (IL-8) by epithelial cells. S1P is a ligand for 5 G protein-coupled receptors, S1PR1-5. We wished to explore the mechanisms of S1P induced IL-8 secretion with regard to the receptor(s) and downstream signaling events involved. Our results indicate that S1P induced IL-8 release is mediated by S1PR2 and the transcription factor NF-κB. Since the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in IL-8 release in response to activation of other G protein-coupled receptors, we examined their importance in S1P induced IL-8 release and established that they are not involved. This study reveals S1PR2 and NF-κB as potential therapeutic targets in neutrophilic airway diseases such as severe asthma.
PMCID: PMC3990666  PMID: 24743449
5.  IL-22 contributes to TGF-β1-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition in asthmatic bronchial epithelial cells 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):118.
Allergic asthma is characterized by airway inflammation in response to antigen exposure, leading to airway remodeling and lung dysfunction. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) may play a role in airway remodeling through the acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype in airway epithelial cells. TGF-β1 is known to promote EMT; however, other cytokines expressed in severe asthma with extensive remodeling, such as IL-22, may also contribute to this process. In this study, we evaluated the contribution of IL-22 to EMT in primary bronchial epithelial cells from healthy and asthmatic subjects.
Primary bronchial epithelial cells were isolated from healthy subjects, mild asthmatics and severe asthmatics (n=5 patients per group). The mRNA and protein expression of epithelial and mesenchymal cell markers and EMT-associated transcription factors was evaluated following stimulation with TGF-β1, IL-22 and TGF-β1+IL-22.
Primary bronchial epithelial cells stimulated with TGF-β1 underwent EMT, demonstrated by decreased expression of epithelial markers (E-cadherin and MUC5AC) and increased expression of mesenchymal markers (N-cadherin and vimentin) and EMT-associated transcription factors. IL-22 alone had no effect on epithelial or mesenchymal gene expression. However, IL-22+TGF-β1 promoted the expression of some EMT transcription factors (Snail1 and Zeb1) and led to a more profound cadherin shift, but only in cells obtained from severe asthmatics.
The impact of IL-22 on airway epithelial cells depends on the cytokine milieu and the clinical phenotype of the patient. Further studies are required to determine the molecular mechanism of IL-22 and TGF-β1 cooperativity in driving EMT in primary human bronchial epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC4176096  PMID: 24283210
6.  Differential Roles of CXCL2 and CXCL3 and Their Receptors in Regulating Normal and Asthmatic Airway Smooth Muscle Cell Migration 
Structural cell migration plays a central role in the pathophysiology of several diseases, including asthma. Previously, we established that IL-17–induced (CXCL1, CXCL2, and CXCL3) production promoted airway smooth muscle cell (ASMC) migration, and consequently we sought to investigate the molecular mechanism of CXC-induced ASMC migration. Recombinant human CXCL1, CXCL2, and CXCL3 were used to assess migration of human primary ASMCs from normal and asthmatic subjects using a modified Boyden chamber. Neutralizing Abs or small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown and pharmacological inhibitors of PI3K, ERK1/2, and p38 MAPK pathways were used to investigate the receptors and the signaling pathways involved in CXC-induced ASMC migration, respectively. We established the ability of CXCL2 and CXCL3, but not CXCL1, to induce ASMC migration at the tested concentrations using normal ASMCs. We found CXCL2-induced ASMC migration to be dependent on p38 MAPK and CXCR2, whereas CXCL3-induced migration was dependent on p38 and ERK1/2 MAPK pathways via CXCR1 and CXCR2. While investigating the effect of CXCL2 and CXCL3 on asthmatic ASMC migration, we found that they induced greater migration of asthmatic ASMCs compared with normal ones. Interestingly, unlike normal ASMCs, CXCL2- and CXCL3-induced asthmatic ASMC migration was mainly mediated by the PI3K pathway through CXCR1. In conclusion, our results establish a new role of CXCR1 in ASMC migration and demonstrate the diverse mechanisms by which CXCL2 and CXCL3 mediate normal and asthmatic ASMC migration, suggesting that they may play a role in the pathogenesis of airway remodeling in asthma.
PMCID: PMC3748335  PMID: 23904157
7.  Genetic and histological evidence for autophagy in asthma pathogenesis 
PMCID: PMC3268897  PMID: 22040902
asthma pathogenesis; autophagy; lung function; polymorphism; SNP; ATG5; autophagosome
8.  Effects of a short course of inhaled corticosteroids in noneosinophilic asthmatic subjects 
Noneosinophilic asthma has been regarded as a distinct phenotype characterized by a poor response to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS).
To determine whether noneosinophilic, steroid-naive asthmatic subjects show an improvement in asthma control, asthma symptoms and spirometry after four weeks of treatment with ICS, and whether they further benefit from the addition of a long-acting beta-2 agonists to ICS.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study comparing the efficacy of placebo versus inhaled fluticasone propionate 250 μg twice daily for four weeks in mildly uncontrolled, steroid-naive asthmatic subjects with a sputum eosinophil count ≤2%. This was followed by an open-label, four-week treatment period with fluticasone propionate 250 μg/salmeterol 50 μg, twice daily for all subjects.
After four weeks of double-blind treatment, there was a statistically significant and clinically relevant improvement in the mean (± SD) Asthma Control Questionnaire score in the ICS-treated group (n=6) (decrease of 1.0±0.5) compared with the placebo group (n=6) (decrease of 0.09±0.4) (P=0.008). Forced expiratory volume in 1 s declined in the placebo group (−0.2±0.2 L) and did not change in the ICS group (0.04±0.1 L) after four weeks of treatment (P=0.02). The open-label treatment with fluticasone propionate 250 μg/salmeterol 50 μg did not produce additional improvements in those who were previously treated for four weeks with inhaled fluticasone alone.
A clinically important and statistically significant response to ICS was observed in mildly uncontrolled noneosinophilic asthmatic subjects.
PMCID: PMC3267606  PMID: 21969930
Asthma; Asthma Control Questionnaire; Eosinophils; Sputum cell counts
9.  Bacteriophages ϕMR299-2 and ϕNH-4 Can Eliminate Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the Murine Lung and on Cystic Fibrosis Lung Airway Cells 
mBio  2012;3(2):e00029-12.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common cause of infection in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). In addition, biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance of Pseudomonas are major problems that can complicate antibiotic therapy. We evaluated the efficacy of using bacteriophages to kill the pathogen in both biofilms and in the murine lung. We isolated and characterized two phages from a local wastewater treatment plant, a myovirus (ϕNH-4) and a podovirus (ϕMR299-2). Both phages were active against clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa. Together, the two phages killed all 9 clinical isolate strains tested, including both mucoid and nonmucoid strains. An equal mixture of the two phages was effective in killing P. aeruginosa NH57388A (mucoid) and P. aeruginosa MR299 (nonmucoid) strains when growing as a biofilm on a cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial CFBE41o- cell line. Phage titers increased almost 100-fold over a 24-h period, confirming replication of the phage. Furthermore, the phage mix was also effective in killing the pathogen in murine lungs containing 1 × 107 to 2 × 107 P. aeruginosa. Pseudomonas was effectively cleared (reduced by a magnitude of at least 3 to 4 log units) from murine lungs in 6 h. Our study demonstrates the efficacy of these two phages in killing clinical Pseudomonas isolates in the murine lung or as a biofilm on a pulmonary cell line and supports the growing interest in using phage therapy for the control and treatment of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas lung infections in CF patients.
Given the rise in antibiotic resistance, nonantibiotic therapies are required for the treatment of infection. This is particularly true for the treatment of Pseudomonas infection in patients with cystic fibrosis. We have identified two bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) that can kill Pseudomonas growing on human lung cells and in an animal model of lung infection. The use of bacteriophages is particularly appropriate because the killing agent can replicate on the target cell, generating fresh copies of the bacteriophage. Thus, in the presence of a target, the killing agent multiplies. By using two bacteriophages we can reduce the risk of resistant colonies developing at the site of infection. Bacteriophage therapy is an exciting field, and this study represents an important demonstration of efficacy in validated infection models.
PMCID: PMC3302570  PMID: 22396480
10.  Site of Allergic Airway Narrowing and the Influence of Exogenous Surfactant in the Brown Norway Rat 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29381.
The parameters RN (Newtonian resistance), G (tissue damping), and H (tissue elastance) of the constant phase model of respiratory mechanics provide information concerning the site of altered mechanical properties of the lung. The aims of this study were to compare the site of allergic airway narrowing implied from respiratory mechanics to a direct assessment by morphometry and to evaluate the effects of exogenous surfactant administration on the site and magnitude of airway narrowing.
We induced airway narrowing by ovalbumin sensitization and challenge and we tested the effects of a natural surfactant lacking surfactant proteins A and D (Infasurf®) on airway responses. Sensitized, mechanically ventilated Brown Norway rats underwent an aerosol challenge with 5% ovalbumin or vehicle. Other animals received nebulized surfactant prior to challenge. Three or 20 minutes after ovalbumin challenge, airway luminal areas were assessed on snap-frozen lungs by morphometry.
At 3 minutes, RN and G detected large airway narrowing whereas at 20 minutes G and H detected small airway narrowing. Surfactant inhibited RN at the peak of the early allergic response and ovalbumin-induced increase in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cysteinyl leukotrienes and amphiregulin but not IgE-induced mast cell activation in vitro.
Allergen challenge triggers the rapid onset of large airway narrowing, detected by RN and G, and subsequent peripheral airway narrowing detected by G and H. Surfactant inhibits airway narrowing and reduces mast cell-derived mediators.
PMCID: PMC3261862  PMID: 22276110
11.  Genetic Influences on Asthma Susceptibility in the Developing Lung 
Asthma is the leading serious pediatric chronic illness in the United States, affecting 7.1 million children. The prevalence of asthma in children under 4 years of age has increased dramatically in the last 2 decades. Existing evidence suggests that this increase in prevalence derives from early environmental exposures acting on a pre-existing asthma-susceptible genotype. We studied the origins of asthma susceptibility in developing lung in rat strains that model the distinct phenotypes of airway hyperresponsiveness (Fisher rats) and atopy (brown Norway [BN] rats). Postnatal BN rat lungs showed increased epithelial proliferation and tracheal goblet cell hyperplasia. Fisher pups showed increased lung resistance at age 2 weeks, with elevated neutrophils throughout the postnatal period. Diverse transcriptomic signatures characterized the distinct respiratory phenotypes of developing lung in both rat models. Linear regression across age and strain identified developmental variation in expression of 1,376 genes, and confirmed both strain and temporal regulation of lung gene expression. Biological processes that were heavily represented included growth and development (including the T Box 1 transcription factor [Tbx5], the epidermal growth factor receptor [Egfr], the transforming growth factor beta-1-induced transcript 1 [Tgfbr1i1]), extracellular matrix and cell adhesion (including collagen and integrin genes), and immune function (including lymphocyte antigen 6 (Ly6) subunits, IL-17b, Toll-interacting protein, and Ficolin B). Genes validated by quantitative RT-PCR and protein analysis included collagen III alpha 1 Col3a1, Ly6b, glucocorticoid receptor and Importin-13 (specific to the BN rat lung), and Serpina1 and Ficolin B (specific to the Fisher lung). Innate differences in patterns of gene expression in developing lung that contribute to individual variation in respiratory phenotype are likely to contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3159089  PMID: 20118217
asthma susceptibility; lung development; developmental gene expression
12.  Chlorine Gas Inhalation 
Humans can come into contact with chlorine gas during short-term, high-level exposures due to traffic or rail accidents, spills, or other disasters. By contrast, workplace and public (swimming pools, etc.) exposures are more frequently long-term, low-level exposures, occasionally punctuated by unintentional transient increases. Acute exposures can result in symptoms of acute airway obstruction including wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and/or dyspnea. These findings are fairly nonspecific, and might be present after exposures to a number of inhaled chemical irritants. Clinical signs, including hypoxemia, wheezes, rales, and/or abnormal chest radiographs may be present. More severely affected individuals may suffer acute lung injury (ALI) and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Up to 1% of exposed individuals die. Humidified oxygen and inhaled β-adrenergic agents are appropriate therapies for victims with respiratory symptoms while assessments are underway. Inhaled bicarbonate and systemic or inhaled glucocorticoids also have been reported anecdotally to be beneficial. Chronic sequelae may include increased airways reactivity, which tends to diminish over time. Airways hyperreactivity may be more of a problem among those survivors that are older, have smoked, and/or have pre-existing chronic lung disease. Individuals suffering from irritant-induced asthma (IIA) due to workplace exposures to chlorine also tend to have similar characteristics, such as airways hyperresponsiveness to methacholine, and to be older and to have smoked. Other workplace studies, however, have indicated that workers exposed to chlorine dioxide/sulfur dioxide have tended to have increased risk for chronic bronchitis and/or recurrent wheezing attacks (one or more episodes) but not asthma, while those exposed to ozone have a greater incidence of asthma. Specific biomarkers for acute and chronic exposures to chlorine gas are currently lacking. Animal models for chlorine gas inhalation have demonstrated evidence of oxidative injury and inflammation. Early epithelial injury, airways hyperresponsiveness, and airway remodeling, likely diminishing over time, have been shown. As in humans, ALI/ARDS can occur, becoming more likely when the upper airways are bypassed. Inhalation models of chlorine toxicity provide unique opportunities for testing potential pharmacologic rescue agents.
PMCID: PMC3136961  PMID: 20601629
chlorine; human; lung; toxicity; oxidant; antioxidant
13.  Dimethylthiourea protects against chlorine induced changes in airway function in a murine model of irritant induced asthma 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):138.
Exposure to chlorine (Cl2) causes airway injury, characterized by oxidative damage, an influx of inflammatory cells and airway hyperresponsiveness. We hypothesized that Cl2-induced airway injury may be attenuated by antioxidant treatment, even after the initial injury.
Balb/C mice were exposed to Cl2 gas (100 ppm) for 5 mins, an exposure that was established to alter airway function with minimal histological disruption of the epithelium. Twenty-four hours after exposure to Cl2, airway responsiveness to aerosolized methacholine (MCh) was measured. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed to determine inflammatory cell profiles, total protein, and glutathione levels. Dimethylthiourea (DMTU;100 mg/kg) was administered one hour before or one hour following Cl2 exposure.
Mice exposed to Cl2 had airway hyperresponsiveness to MCh compared to control animals pre-treated and post-treated with DMTU. Total cell counts in BAL fluid were elevated by Cl2 exposure and were not affected by DMTU treatment. However, DMTU-treated mice had lower protein levels in the BAL than the Cl2-only treated animals. 4-Hydroxynonenal analysis showed that DMTU given pre- or post-Cl2 prevented lipid peroxidation in the lung. Following Cl2 exposure glutathione (GSH) was elevated immediately following exposure both in BAL cells and in fluid and this change was prevented by DMTU. GSSG was depleted in Cl2 exposed mice at later time points. However, the GSH/GSSG ratio remained high in chlorine exposed mice, an effect attenuated by DMTU.
Our data show that the anti-oxidant DMTU is effective in attenuating Cl2 induced increase in airway responsiveness, inflammation and biomarkers of oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC2965137  PMID: 20925946
14.  Combined forced oscillation and forced expiration measurements in mice for the assessment of airway hyperresponsiveness 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):82.
Pulmonary function has been reported in mice using negative pressure-driven forced expiratory manoeuvres (NPFE) and the forced oscillation technique (FOT). However, both techniques have always been studied using separate cohorts of animals or systems. The objective of this study was to obtain NPFE and FOT measurements at baseline and following bronchoconstriction from a single cohort of mice using a combined system in order to assess both techniques through a refined approach.
Groups of allergen- or sham-challenged ovalbumin-sensitized mice that were either vehicle (saline) or drug (dexamethasone 1 mg/kg ip)-treated were studied. Surgically prepared animals were connected to an extended flexiVent system (SCIREQ Inc., Montreal, Canada) permitting NPFE and FOT measurements. Lung function was assessed concomitantly by both techniques at baseline and following doubling concentrations of aerosolized methacholine (MCh; 31.25 - 250 mg/ml). The effect of the NPFE manoeuvre on respiratory mechanics was also studied.
The expected exaggerated MCh airway response of allergic mice and its inhibition by dexamethasone were detected by both techniques. We observed significant changes in FOT parameters at either the highest (Ers, H) or the two highest (Rrs, RN, G) MCh concentrations. The flow-volume (F-V) curves obtained following NPFE manoeuvres demonstrated similar MCh concentration-dependent changes. A dexamethasone-sensitive decrease in the area under the flow-volume curve at the highest MCh concentration was observed in the allergic mice. Two of the four NPFE parameters calculated from the F-V curves, FEV0.1 and FEF50, also captured the expected changes but only at the highest MCh concentration. Normalization to baseline improved the sensitivity of NPFE parameters at detecting the exaggerated MCh airway response of allergic mice but had minimal impact on FOT responses. Finally, the combination with FOT allowed us to demonstrate that NPFE induced persistent airway closure that was reversible by deep lung inflation.
We conclude that FOT and NPFE can be concurrently assessed in the same cohort of animals to determine airway mechanics and expiratory flow limitation during methacholine responses, and that the combination of the two techniques offers a refined control and an improved reproducibility of the NPFE.
PMCID: PMC2904286  PMID: 20565957
15.  Marketing data: Has the rise of impact factor led to the fall of objective language in the scientific article? 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):35.
The language of science should be objective and detached and should place data in the appropriate context. The aim of this commentary was to explore the notion that recent trends in the use of language have led to a loss of objectivity in the presentation of scientific data. The relationship between the value-laden vocabulary and impact factor among fundamental biomedical research and clinical journals has been explored. It appears that fundamental research journals of high impact factors have experienced a rise in value-laden terms in the past 25 years.
PMCID: PMC2685417  PMID: 19432970
16.  IFN-γ, IL-4 and IL-13 modulate responsiveness of human airway smooth muscle cells to IL-13 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):84.
IL-13 is a critical mediator of allergic asthma and associated airway hyperresponsiveness. IL-13 acts through a receptor complex comprised of IL-13Rα1 and IL-4Rα subunits with subsequent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6). The IL-13Rα2 receptor may act as a decoy receptor. In human airway smooth muscle (HASM) cells, IL-13 enhances cellular proliferation, calcium responses to agonists and induces eotaxin production. We investigated the effects of pre-treatment with IL-4, IL-13 and IFN-γ on the responses of HASM cells to IL-13.
Cultured HASM were examined for expression of IL-13 receptor subunits using polymerase chain reaction, immunofluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Effects of cytokine pre-treatment on IL-13-induced cell responses were assessed by looking at STAT6 phosphorylation using Western blot, eotaxin secretion and calcium responses to histamine.
IL-13Rα1, IL-4Rα and IL-13Rα2 subunits were expressed on HASM cells. IL-13 induced phosphorylation of STAT6 which reached a maximum by 30 minutes. Pre-treatment with IL-4, IL-13 and, to a lesser degree, IFN-γ reduced peak STAT6 phosphorylation in response to IL-13. IL-13, but not IFN-γ, pre-treatment abrogated IL-13-induced eotaxin secretion. Pre-treatment with IL-4 or IL-13 abrogated IL-13-induced augmentation of the calcium transient evoked by histamine. Cytokine pre-treatment did not affect expression of IL-13Rα1 and IL-4Rα but increased expression of IL-13Rα2. An anti-IL-13Rα2 neutralizing antibody did not prevent the cytokine pre-treatment effects on STAT6 phosphorylation. Cytokine pre-treatment increased SOCS-1, but not SOCS-3, mRNA expression which was not associated with significant increases in protein expression.
Pre-treatment with IL-4 and IL-13, but not IFN-γ, induced desensitization of the HASM cells to IL-13 as measured by eotaxin secretion and calcium transients to histamine. The mechanism of IL-4 and IL-13 induced desensitization does not appear to involve either downregulation of receptor expression or induction of the IL-13Rα2 or the SOCS proteins.
PMCID: PMC2628656  PMID: 19116009
17.  The effects of interleukin-8 on airway smooth muscle contraction in cystic fibrosis 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):76.
Many cystic fibrosis (CF) patients display airway hyperresponsiveness and have symptoms of asthma such as cough, wheezing and reversible airway obstruction. Chronic airway bacterial colonization, associated with neutrophilic inflammation and high levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8) is also a common occurrence in these patients. The aim of this work was to determine the responsiveness of airway smooth muscle to IL-8 in CF patients compared to non-CF individuals.
Experiments were conducted on cultured ASM cells harvested from subjects with and without CF (control subjects). Cells from the 2nd to 5th passage were studied. Expression of the IL-8 receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 was assessed by flow cytometry. The cell response to IL-8 was determined by measuring intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), cell contraction, migration and proliferation.
The IL-8 receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 were expressed in both non-CF and CF ASM cells to a comparable extent. IL-8 (100 nM) induced a peak Ca2+ release that was higher in control than in CF cells: 228 ± 7 versus 198 ± 10 nM (p < 0.05). IL-8 induced contraction was greater in CF cells compared to control. Furthermore, IL-8 exposure resulted in greater phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC20) in CF than in control cells. In addition, MLC20 expression was also increased in CF cells. Exposure to IL-8 induced migration and proliferation of both groups of ASM cells but was not different between CF and non-CF cells.
ASM cells of CF patients are more contractile to IL-8 than non-CF ASM cells. This enhanced contractility may be due to an increase in the amount of contractile protein MLC20. Higher expression of MLC20 by CF cells could contribute to airway hyperresponsiveness to IL-8 in CF patients.
PMCID: PMC2633308  PMID: 19046427
18.  Time course of airway remodelling after an acute chlorine gas exposure in mice 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):61.
Accidental chlorine (Cl2) gas inhalation is a common cause of acute airway injury. However, little is known about the kinetics of airway injury and repair after Cl2 exposure. We investigated the time course of airway epithelial damage and repair in mice after a single exposure to a high concentration of Cl2 gas. Mice were exposed to 800 ppm Cl2 gas for 5 minutes and studied from 12 hrs to 10 days post-exposure. The acute injury phase after Cl2 exposure (≤ 24 hrs post-exposure) was characterized by airway epithelial cell apoptosis (increased TUNEL staining) and sloughing, elevated protein in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and a modest increase in airway responses to methacholine. The repair phase after Cl2 exposure was characterized by increased airway epithelial cell proliferation, measured by immunoreactive proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), with maximal proliferation occurring 5 days after Cl2 exposure. At 10 days after Cl2 exposure the airway smooth muscle mass was increased relative to controls, suggestive of airway smooth muscle hyperplasia and there was evidence of airway fibrosis. No increase in goblet cells occurred at any time point. We conclude that a single exposure of mice to Cl2 gas causes acute changes in lung function, including pulmonary responsiveness to methacholine challenge, associated with airway damage, followed by subsequent repair and airway remodelling.
PMCID: PMC2531104  PMID: 18702818
19.  The role of γδ T cells in airway epithelial injury and bronchial responsiveness after chlorine gas exposure in mice 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):21.
Acute exposure to chlorine (Cl2) gas causes epithelial injury and airway dysfunction. γδ T cells are present in the mucosal surface of the airways and may contribute to the injury/repair response of the epithelium.
C57Bl/6J (wild type) and TCR-δ-/- mice exposed to Cl2 (400 ppm) for 5 minutes underwent measurements of airway responses to i.v. methacholine (MCh) at 1, 3, and 5 days after exposure. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed to determine epithelial and leukocyte counts, and protein content. Tissue repair was assessed by proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) immunoreactivity and by expression of keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) mRNA by real-time PCR.
Wild type mice developed a greater degree of airway hyperresponsiveness to MCh at 1 day post exposure to Cl2 compared with TCR-δ-/- mice. Epithelial cell counts in BAL after Cl2 exposure were greater in TCR-δ-/- mice, but macrophages showed a later peak and granulocyte numbers were lower in TCR-δ-/- than in wild type mice. Both groups had increased levels of total protein content in BAL after Cl2 exposure that resolved after 3 and 5 days, respectively. Epithelial proliferating cell nuclear antigen staining was increased at 1 and 3 days post exposure and was similar in the two groups. KGF mRNA was constitutively expressed in both groups and did not increase significantly after Cl2 but expression was lower in TCR-δ-/- mice.
The severity of airway epithelial injury after Cl2 is greater in TCR-δ-/- mice but the inflammatory response and the change in airway responsiveness to methacholine are reduced. The rates of epithelial regeneration are comparable in both groups.
PMCID: PMC1831470  PMID: 17343743
20.  Antigen-specific CD4+ T cells drive airway smooth muscle remodeling in experimental asthma 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(6):1580-1589.
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) growth contributes to the mechanism of airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. Here we demonstrate that CD4+ T cells, central to chronic airway inflammation, drive ASM remodeling in experimental asthma. Adoptive transfer of CD4+ T cells from sensitized rats induced an increase in proliferation and inhibition of apoptosis of airway myocytes in naive recipients upon repeated antigen challenge, which resulted in an increase in ASM mass. Genetically modified CD4+ T cells expressing enhanced GFP (EGFP) were localized by confocal microscopy in juxtaposition to ASM cells, which suggests that CD4+ T cells may modulate ASM cell function through direct cell-cell interaction in vivo. Coculture of antigen-stimulated CD4+ T cells with cell cycle–arrested ASM cells induced myocyte proliferation, dependent on T cell activation and direct T cell–myocyte contact. Reciprocally, direct cell contact prevented postactivation T cell apoptosis, which suggests receptor-mediated T cell–myocyte crosstalk. Overall, our data demonstrate that activated CD4+ T cells drive ASM remodeling in experimental asthma and suggest that a direct cell-cell interaction participates in CD4+ T cell regulation of myocyte turnover and induction of remodeling.
PMCID: PMC1088014  PMID: 15902312
21.  Surgery for Variceal Bleeding in Cirrhosis: A Review of Our Experience and Present Concepts 
The major cause of portal hypertension in Western countries is nutritional cirrhosis (parenchymal block) related to alcoholism. A third of those patients die of variceal bleeding when increased pressure within the varices precipitates bleeding. Construction of portal systemic shunts is aimed at reducing the pressure within the varices and thereby decreasing the risk of bleeding. However, it increases the incidence of hepatic encephalopathy and hence should be used only in patients who have bled. The remaining function appears to be the main factor that determines survival and the incidence of encephalopathy in obese individuals. Portacaval shunts almost completely eliminate the risk of bleeding. There is a greater incidence of hepatic encephalopathy with this procedure than with other shunts. The splenorenal shunt and the distal splenorenal shunt appear to work well in selected patients. Technically, it is a more difficult procedure. The interposition mesocaval shunt is technically easier and is also helpful in patients with ascites. Its post-shunt encephalopathy rate, however, is higher than the splenorenal shunt or the distal splenorenal shunt, though less than the portacaval shunts. Experience with the newer arterialized portacaval and coronary caval shunts is limited. A non-shunt procedure, such as the one described by Sugiura, with impressive results and follow-up may become more acceptable as experience grows.
PMCID: PMC2537278  PMID: 312948

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