The editors of Respiratory Research would like to thank all of our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 13 (2012).
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors may offer novel approaches in the treatment of asthma. We postulate that trichostatin A (TSA), a Class 1 and 2 inhibitor of HDAC, inhibits airway hyperresponsiveness in antigen-challenged mice. Mice were sensitized and challenged with Aspergillus fumigatus antigen (AF) and treated with TSA, dexamethasone, or vehicle. Lung resistance (RL) and dynamic compliance were measured, and bronchial alveolar lavage fluid (BALF) was analyzed for numbers of leukocytes and concentrations of cytokines. Human precision-cut lung slices (PCLS) were treated with TSA and their agonist-induced bronchoconstriction was measured, and TSA-treated human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells were evaluated for the agonist-induced activation of Rho and intracellular release of Ca2+. The activity of HDAC in murine lungs was enhanced by antigen and abrogated by TSA. TSA also inhibited methacholine (Mch)-induced increases in RL and decreases in dynamic compliance in naive control mice and in AF-sensitized and -challenged mice. Total cell counts, concentrations of IL-4, and numbers of eosinophils in BALF were unchanged in mice treated with TSA or vehicle, whereas dexamethasone inhibited the numbers of eosinophils in BALF and concentrations of IL-4. TSA inhibited the carbachol-induced contraction of PCLS. Treatment with TSA inhibited the intracellular release of Ca2+ in ASM cells in response to histamine, without affecting the activation of Rho. The inhibition of HDAC abrogates airway hyperresponsiveness to Mch in both naive and antigen-challenged mice. TSA inhibits the agonist-induced contraction of PCLS and mobilization of Ca2+ in ASM cells. Thus, HDAC inhibitors demonstrate a mechanism of action distinct from that of anti-inflammatory agents such as steroids, and represent a promising therapeutic agent for airway disease.
HDAC; asthma; allergen; mice; trichostatin A
Leukotrienes are bioactive signaling molecules derived from arachidonic acid that initiate and amplify innate immunity. A single structure, the leukotriene synthetic complex, on the nuclear membrane of neutrophils integrates and transduces extracellular signals to generate the chemotactic lipid LTB4.
Leukotrienes (LTs) are lipid-signaling molecules derived from arachidonic acid (AA) that initiate and amplify inflammation. To initiate LT formation, the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) enzyme translocates to nuclear membranes, where it associates with its scaffold protein, 5-lipoxygenase–activating protein (FLAP), to form the core of the multiprotein LT synthetic complex. FLAP is considered to function by binding free AA and facilitating its use as a substrate by 5-LO to form the initial LT, LTA4. We used a combination of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, cell biology, and biochemistry to identify discrete AA-dependent and AA-independent steps that occur on nuclear membranes to control the assembly of the LT synthetic complex in polymorphonuclear leukocytes. The association of AA with FLAP changes the configuration of the scaffold protein, enhances recruitment of membrane-associated 5-LO to form complexes with FLAP, and controls the closeness of this association. Granulocyte monocyte colony–stimulating factor provides a second AA-independent signal that controls the closeness of 5-LO and FLAP within complexes but not the number of complexes that are assembled. Our results demonstrate that the LT synthetic complex is a signal integrator that transduces extracellular signals to modulate the interaction of 5-LO and FLAP.
Severe asthma manifests as airway remodeling and irreversible airway obstruction, in part because of the proliferation and migration of human airway smooth muscle (HASM) cells. We previously reported that cyclic adenosine monophosphate–mobilizing agents, including β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR) agonists, which are mainstay of asthma therapy, and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), inhibit the migration of HASM cells, although the mechanism for this migration remains unknown. Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP), an anticapping protein, modulates the formation of actin stress fibers during cell motility, and is negatively regulated by protein kinase A (PKA)–specific inhibitory phosphorylation at serine 157 (Ser157). Here, we show that treatment with β2AR agonists and PGE2 induces the PKA-dependent phosphorylation of VASP and inhibits the migration of HASM cells. The stable expression of PKA inhibitory peptide and the small interfering (si) RNA-induced depletion of VASP abolish the inhibitory effects of albuterol and PGE2 on the migration of HASM cells. Importantly, prolonged treatment with albuterol prevents the agonist-induced phosphorylation of VASP at Ser157, and reverses the inhibitory effects of albuterol and formoterol, but not PGE2, on the basal and PDGF-induced migration of HASM cells. Collectively, our data demonstrate that β2AR agonists selectively inhibit the migration of HASM cells via a β2AR/PKA/VASP signaling pathway, and that prolonged treatment with albuterol abolishes the inhibitory effect of β-agonists on the phosphorylation of VASP and migration of HASM cells because of β2AR desensitization.
airway hyperresponsiveness; β2-adrenergic receptor desensitization; protein kinase A; albuterol; formoterol
γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system, and exerts its actions via both ionotropic (GABAA) and metabotropic (GABAB) receptors. Although the functional expression of GABAB receptors coupled to the Gi protein was reported for airway smooth muscle, the role of GABAB receptors in airway responsiveness remains unclear. We investigated whether Gi-coupled GABAB receptors cross-regulate phospholipase C (PLC), an enzyme classically regulated by Gq-coupled receptors in human airway smooth muscle cells. Both the GABAB-selective agonist baclofen and the endogenous ligand GABA significantly increased the synthesis of inositol phosphate, whereas GABAA receptor agonists, muscimol, and 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol exerted no effect. The baclofen-induced synthesis of inositol phosphate and transient increases in [Ca2+]i were blocked by CGP35348 and CGP55845 (selective GABAB antagonists), pertussis toxin (PTX, which inactivates the Gi protein), gallein (a Gβγ signaling inhibitor), U73122 (an inhibitor of PLC-β), and xestospongin C, an inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor blocker. Baclofen also potentiated the bradykinin-induced synthesis of inositol phosphate and transient increases in [Ca2+]i, which were blocked by CGP35348 or PTX. Moreover, baclofen potentiated the substance P–induced contraction of airway smooth muscle in isolated guinea pig tracheal rings. In conclusion, the stimulation of GABAB receptors in human airway smooth muscle cells rapidly mobilizes intracellular Ca2+ stores by the synthesis of inositol phosphate via the activation of PLC-β, which is stimulated by Gβγ protein liberated from Gi proteins coupled to GABAB receptors. Furthermore, crosstalk between GABAB receptors and Gq-coupled receptors potentiates the synthesis of inositol phosphate, transient increases in [Ca2+]i, and smooth muscle contraction through Gi proteins.
Gi protein; Gβγ; inositol phosphate; phospholipase C; airway smooth muscle
Severe asthma is associated with fixed airway obstruction attributable to inflammation, copious luminal mucus, and increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. Paradoxically, studies demonstrated that the hypertrophic and hyperplastic ASM characteristic of severe asthma has reduced contractile capacity. We compared the G-protein–coupled receptor (GPCR)–induced Ca2+ mobilization and expression of GPCRs and signaling proteins related to procontractile signaling in ASM derived postmortem from subjects who died of nonrespiratory causes, with cells from subjects who died of asthma. Despite the increased or comparable expression of contraction-promoting GPCRs (bradykinin B2 or histamine H1 and protease-activated receptor 1, respectively) in asthmatic ASM cells relative to cells from healthy donors, asthmatic ASM cells exhibited reduced histamine-induced Ca2+ mobilization and comparable responses to bradykinin and thrombin, suggesting a postreceptor signaling defect. Accordingly, the expression of regulator of G-protein signaling–5 (RGS5), an inhibitor of ASM contraction, was increased in cultured, asthmatic ASM cells and in bronchial smooth muscle bundles of both human subjects with asthma and allergen-challenged mice, relative to those of healthy human subjects or naive mice. The overexpression of RGS5 impaired the release of Ca2+ to thrombin, histamine, and carbachol, and reduced the contraction of precision-cut lung slices to carbachol. These results suggest that increased RGS5 expression contributes to decreased myocyte shortening in severe and fatal asthma.
asthma; bronchial smooth muscle; signal transduction; G-protein–coupled receptors
CD38 is a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed in airway smooth muscle cells. The enzymatic activity of CD38 generates cyclic ADP-ribose from β-NAD. Cyclic ADP-ribose mobilizes intracellular calcium during activation of airway smooth muscle cells by G-protein-coupled receptors through activation of ryanodine receptor channels in the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Inflammatory cytokines that are implicated in asthma upregulate CD38 expression and increase the calcium responses to contractile agonists in airway smooth muscle cells. The augmented intracellular calcium responses following cytokine exposure of airway smooth muscle cells are inhibited by an antagonist of cyclic ADP-ribose. Airway smooth muscle cells from CD38 knockout mice exhibit attenuated intracellular calcium responses to agonists, and these mice have reduced airway response to inhaled methacholine. CD38 also contributes to airway hyperresponsiveness as shown in mouse models of allergen or cytokine-induced inflammatory airway disease. In airway smooth muscle cells obtained from asthmatics, the cytokine-induced CD38 expression is significantly enhanced compared to expression in cells from nonasthmatics. This differential induction of CD38 expression in asthmatic airway smooth muscle cells stems from increased activation of MAP kinases and transcription through NF-κB, and altered post-transcriptional regulation through microRNAs. We propose that increased capacity for CD38 signaling in airway smooth muscle in asthma contributes to airway hyperresponsiveness.
Incomplete combustion produces a pollutant mixture that includes polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Previous work by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) and others linked exposure to PAH with symptoms of asthma and other adverse health effects in young children. Inhaled β2-adrenergic agonists are mainstays in the treatment of reactive airway diseases. These exogenous catecholamines engage membrane-bound β2-adrenergic receptors (β2AR) on airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells to cause airway dilation. We hypothesized that exposure to PAH might similarly interfere with the function of β2AR in airway epithelial or smooth muscle cells, reducing the efficacy of a medication important for the treatment of asthma symptoms. A PAH mixture was devised, based on ambient levels measured prenatally among a cohort of pregnant women participating at the CCCEH. Primary airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells were exposed to varying concentrations of the PAH mixture, and expression, function, and signaling of β2AR were assessed. Murine tracheal epithelial cells and human airway smooth muscle cells, after exposure to a PAH mixture, exhibited reduced expression and function of β2AR. These findings support our hypothesis that environmentally relevant PAHs can impede β2AR-mediated airway relaxation, and suggest a new paradigm where air pollutants not only contribute to the pathogenesis of childhood asthma, but also diminish responsiveness to standard therapy.
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; β2-adrenergic receptors
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) manifests a hyper-responsive phenotype in airway disorders such as asthma. ASM also modulates immune responses by secreting mediators and expressing cell-surface molecules that promote recruitment of inflammatory cells to the lungs. The aim of the current article is to highlight therapeutics that may modulate ASM responses in airway disorders and exacerbations.
antibody therapy; asthma; bronchial thermoplasty; exacerbation; remodeling
Measurement of biomarkers has been incorporated within clinical research studies of asthma to characterize the population and associate the disease with environmental and therapeutic effects.
National Institutes of Health institutes and federal agencies convened an expert group to propose which biomarkers should be assessed as standardized asthma outcomes in future clinical research studies.
We conducted a comprehensive search of the literature to identify studies that developed and/or tested asthma biomarkers. We identified biomarkers relevant to the underlying disease process progression and response to treatment. We classified the biomarkers as either core (required in future studies), supplemental (used according to study aims and standardized), or emerging (requiring validation and standardization). This work was discussed at an National Institutes of Health–organized workshop convened in March 2010 and finalized in September 2011.
Ten measures were identified; only 1, multiallergen screening to define atopy, is recommended as a core asthma outcome. Complete blood counts to measure total eosinophils, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (Feno), sputum eosinophils, urinary leukotrienes, and total and allergen-specific IgE are recommended as supplemental measures. Measurement of sputum polymorphonuclear leukocytes and other analytes, cortisol measures, airway imaging, breath markers, and system-wide studies (eg, genomics, proteomics) are considered as emerging outcome measures.
The working group participants propose the use of multiallergen screening in all asthma clinical trials to characterize study populations with respect to atopic status. Blood, sputum, and urine specimens should be stored in biobanks, and standard procedures should be developed to harmonize sample collection for clinical trial biorepositories.
Multiallergen screen; fractional exhaled nitric oxide; sputum eosinophils; total eosinophils; IgE; urinary leukotriene E4
γ−Amino butyric acid (GABA) is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and is classically released by fusion of synaptic vesicles with the plasma membrane or by egress via GABA transporters (GATs). Recently, a GABAergic system comprised of GABAA and GABAB receptors has been identified on airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells that regulate mucus secretion and contractile tone of airway smooth muscle (ASM). In addition, the enzyme that synthesizes GABA, glutamic acid decarboxylase, has been identified in airway epithelial cells; however, the mechanism(s) by which this synthesized GABA is released from epithelial intracellular stores is unknown. We questioned whether any of the four known isoforms of GATs are functionally expressed in ASM or epithelial cells. We detected mRNA and protein expression of GAT2 and -4, and isoforms of glutamic acid decarboxylase in native and cultured human ASM and epithelial cells. In contrast, mRNA encoding vesicular GAT (VGAT), the neuronal GABA transporter, was not detected. Functional inhibition of 3H-GABA uptake was demonstrated using GAT2 and GAT4/betaine–GABA transporter 1 (BGT1) inhibitors in both human ASM and epithelial cells. These results demonstrate that two isoforms of GATs, but not VGAT, are expressed in both airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells. They also provide a mechanism by which locally synthesized GABA can be released from these cells into the airway to activate GABAA channels and GABAB receptors, with subsequent autocrine and/or paracrine signaling effects on airway epithelium and ASM.
vesicular γ–amino butyric acid transporter; 3H–γ–amino butyric acid uptake; immunoblot; RT-PCR
Bronchodilator response (BDR) is an important asthma phenotype that measures reversibility of airway obstruction by comparing lung function (i.e. FEV1) before and after the administration of a short-acting β2-agonist, the most common rescue medications used for the treatment of asthma. BDR also serves as a test of β2-agonist efficacy. BDR is a complex trait that is partly under genetic control. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BDR, quantified as percent change in baseline FEV1 after administration of a β2-agonist, was performed with 1,644 non-Hispanic white asthmatic subjects from six drug clinical trials: CAMP, LOCCS, LODO, a medication trial conducted by Sepracor, CARE, and ACRN. Data for 469,884 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were used to measure the association of SNPs with BDR using a linear regression model, while adjusting for age, sex, and height. Replication of primary P-values was attempted in 501 white subjects from SARP and 550 white subjects from DAG. Experimental evidence supporting the top gene was obtained via siRNA knockdown and Western blotting analyses. The lowest overall combined P-value was 9.7E-07 for SNP rs295137, near the SPATS2L gene. Among subjects in the primary analysis, those with rs295137 TT genotype had a median BDR of 16.0 (IQR = [6.2, 32.4]), while those with CC or TC genotypes had a median BDR of 10.9 (IQR = [5.0, 22.2]). SPATS2L mRNA knockdown resulted in increased β2-adrenergic receptor levels. Our results suggest that SPATS2L may be an important regulator of β2-adrenergic receptor down-regulation and that there is promise in gaining a better understanding of the biological mechanisms of differential response to β2-agonists through GWAS.
Bronchodilator response (BDR) is an important asthma phenotype that measures reversibility of airway obstruction by comparing lung function before and after the administration of short-acting β2-agonists, common medications used for asthma treatment. We performed a genome-wide association study of BDR with 1,644 white asthmatic subjects from six drug clinical trials and attempted to replicate these findings in 1,051 white subjects from two independent cohorts. The most significant associated variant was near the SPATS2L gene. We knocked down SPATS2L mRNA in human airway smooth muscle cells and found that β2-adrenergic receptor levels increased, suggesting that SPATS2L may be a regulator of BDR. Our results highlight the promise of pursuing GWAS results that do not necessarily reach genome-wide significance and are an example of how results from pharmacogenetic GWAS can be studied functionally.
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells have been reported to contribute to the inflammation of asthma. Because the thiazolidinediones (TZDs) exert anti-inflammatory effects, we examined the effects of troglitazone and rosiglitazone on the release of inflammatory moieties from cultured human ASM cells. Troglitazone dose-dependently reduced the IL-1β–induced release of IL-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor, the TNF-α–induced release of eotaxin and regulated on activation, normal T expressed and secreted (RANTES), and the IL-4–induced release of eotaxin. Rosiglitazone also inhibited the TNF-α–stimulated release of RANTES. Although TZDs are known to activate peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ (PPARγ), these anti-inflammatory effects were not affected by a specific PPARγ inhibitor (GW 9662) or by the knockdown of PPARγ using short hairpin RNA. Troglitazone and rosiglitazone each caused the activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), as detected by Western blotting using a phospho-AMPK antibody. The anti-inflammatory effects of TZDs were largely mimicked by the AMPK activators, 5-amino-4-imidazolecarboxamide ribose (AICAR) and metformin. However, the AMPK inhibitors, Ara A and Compound C, were not effective in preventing the anti-inflammatory effects of troglitazone or rosiglitzone, suggesting that the effects of these TZDs are likely not mediated through the activation of AMPK. These data indicate that TZDs inhibit the release of a variety of inflammatory mediators from human ASM cells, suggesting that they may be useful in the treatment of asthma, and the data also indicate that the effects of TZDs are not mediated by PPARγ or AMPK.
shRNA; anti-inflammatory; PPARγ; IL-1β; TNF-α
In severe asthma, bronchodilator- and steroid-insensitive airflow obstruction develops through unknown mechanisms characterized by increased lung airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and stiffness. We explored the role of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling protein (RGS4) in the ASM hyperplasia and reduced contractile capacity characteristic of advanced asthma. Using immunocytochemical staining, ASM expression of RGS4 was determined in endobronchial biopsies from healthy subjects and those from subjects with mild, moderate and severe asthma. Cell proliferation assays, agonist-induced calcium mobilization and bronchoconstriction were determined in cultured human ASM cells and in human precision cut lung slices. Using gain- and loss-of-function approaches, the precise role of RGS proteins was determined in stimulating human ASM proliferation and inhibiting bronchoconstriction. RGS4 expression was restricted to a subpopulation of ASM and was specifically upregulated by mitogens, which induced a hyperproliferative and hypocontractile ASM phenotype similar to that observed in recalcitrant asthma. RGS4 expression was markedly increased in bronchial smooth muscle of patients with severe asthma, and expression correlated significantly with reduced pulmonary function. Whereas RGS4 inhibited G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated bronchoconstriction, unexpectedly RGS4 was required for PDGF-induced proliferation and sustained activation of PI3K, a mitogenic signaling molecule that regulates ASM proliferation. These studies indicate that increased RGS4 expression promotes a phenotypic switch of ASM, evoking irreversible airway obstruction in subjects with severe asthma.
Bronchodilators provide the mainstay of pharmacologic therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and anticholinergic bronchodilators, in particular, appear to be the most effective. There are currently two anticholinergic agents available in the US for the treatment of COPD (ipratropium bromide and tiotropium bromide), but several others are in various stages of development. Aclidinium bromide, a novel, long-acting, anticholinergic bronchodilator, is currently in Phase III trials for the management of COPD. Available evidence suggests that aclidinium is a safe and well tolerated drug with a relatively rapid onset and a sufficient duration of action to provide once-daily dosing. This article will provide a pharmacologic profile of aclidinium bromide and review the preclinical and clinical studies evaluating its safety and efficacy in the treatment of COPD.
aclidinium bromide; bronchodilators; pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; muscarinic antagonists; pharmacokinetics; pharmacology
Psychosocial stress alters susceptibility to infectious and systemic illnesses and may enhance airway inflammation in asthma by modulating immune cell function through neural and hormonal pathways. Stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Release of endogenous glucocorticoids, as a consequence, may play a prominent role in altering the airway immune homeostasis. Despite substantial corticosteroid and catecholamine plasma levels, chronic psychosocial stress evokes asthma exacerbations.
Animal studies suggest that social stress induces corticosteroid insensitivity that in part may be due to impaired glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression and/or function. Such mechanisms likely promote and amplify airway inflammation in response to infections, allergen or irritant exposure. This review discusses evidence of an altered corticosteroid responsive state as a consequence of chronic psychosocial stress. Elucidation of the mechanisms of stress-induced impairment of glucocorticoid responsiveness and immune homeostasis may identify novel therapeutic targets that could improve asthma management.
Airway inflammation; psychosocial stress; corticosteroids; innate immune system
In this study, we demonstrate that protein kinase C (PKC) activators, including phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA), 1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol (DOG), and platelet-derived growth factor α are potent inducers of angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4) expression in several normal lung cell types and carcinoma cell lines. In human airway smooth muscle (HASM) cells induction of ANGPTL4 expression is observed as early as 2 h after the addition of PMA. PMA also increases the level of ANGPTL4 protein released in the medium. PKC inhibitors Ro31-8820 and Gö6983 greatly inhibit the induction of ANGPTL4 mRNA by PMA suggesting that this up-regulation involves activation of PKC. Knockdown of several PKCs by corresponding siRNAs suggest a role for PKCα. PMA does not activate MAPK p38 and p38 inhibitors have little effect on the induction of ANGPTL4 indicating that p38 is not involved in the regulation of ANGPTL4 by PMA. In contrast, treatment of HASM by PMA induces phosphorylation and activation of Ra, MEK1/2, ERK1/2, JNK, Elk-1, and c-Jun. The Ras inhibitor manumycin A, the MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126, and the JNK inhibitor SP600125, greatly reduce the increase in ANGPTL4 expression by PMA. Knock-down of MEK1/2 and JNK1/2 expression by corresponding siRNAs inhibit the induction of ANGPTL4. Our observations suggest that the induction of ANGPTL4 by PMA in HASM involves the activation of PKC, ERK, and JNK pathways. This induction may play a role in tissue remodeling during lung injury and be implicated in several lung pathologies.
ANGPTL4; PKC; smooth muscle cells; tissue remodeling; lung; PMA; MAPK
Glucocorticoid (GC) insensitivity represents a profound challenge in managing patients with asthma. The mutual inhibition of transcriptional activity between GC receptor (GR) and other regulators is one of the mechanisms contributing to GC resistance in asthma. We recently reported that interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1 is a novel transcription factor that promotes GC insensitivity in human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells by interfering with GR signaling (Tliba et al., Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008;38:463–472). Here, we sought to determine whether the inhibition of GR function by IRF-1 involves its interaction with the transcriptional co-regulator GR-interacting protein 1 (GRIP-1), a known GR transcriptional co-activator. We here found that siRNA-mediated GRIP-1 depletion attenuated IRF-1–dependent transcription of the luciferase reporter construct and the mRNA expression of an IRF-1–dependent gene, CD38. In parallel experiments, GRIP-1 silencing significantly reduced GR-mediated transactivation activities. Co-immunoprecipitation and GST pull-down assays showed that GRIP-1, through its repression domain, physically interacts with IRF-1 identifying GRIP-1 as a bona fide transcriptional co-activator for IRF-1. Interestingly, the previously reported inhibition of GR-mediated transactivation activities by either TNF-α and IFN-γ treatment or IRF-1 overexpression was fully reversed by increasing cellular levels of GRIP-1. Together, these data suggest that the cellular accumulation of IRF-1 may represent a potential molecular mechanism mediating altered cellular response to GC through the depletion of GRIP-1 from the GR transcriptional regulatory complexes.
glucocorticoid; cytokine; airway smooth muscle; IRF-1; GRIP-1
Although pivotal in regulating bronchomotor tone in asthma, airway smooth muscle (ASM) also modulates airway inflammation in asthma. ASM myocytes secrete or express a wide array of immunomodulatory mediators in response to extracellular stimuli, and in chronic severe asthma, increases in ASM mass may also render the airway irreversibly obstructed. Although the mechanisms by which ASM secretes cytokines and chemokines are shared with those regulating immune cells, there exist unique ASM signaling pathways that may provide novel therapeutic targets. This review provides an overview of our current understanding of the proliferative as well as synthetic properties of ASM.
Synthetic function; airway remodeling; mesenchymal cells; airway hyperresponsiveness; hyperplasia; hypertrophy
Communication between the airway epithelium and stroma is evident during embryogenesis, and both epithelial shedding and increased smooth muscle proliferation are features of airway remodeling. Hence, we hypothesized that after injury the airway epithelium could modulate airway smooth muscle proliferation. Fully differentiated primary normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells at an air–liquid interface were co-cultured with serum-deprived normal primary human airway smooth muscle cells (HASM) using commercially available Transwells. In some co-cultures, the NHBE were repeatedly (×4) scrape-injured. An in vivo model of tracheal injury consisted of gently denuding the tracheal epithelium (×3) of a rabbit over 5 days and then examining the trachea by histology 3 days after the last injury. Our results show that HASM cell number increases 2.5-fold in the presence of NHBE, and 4.3-fold in the presence of injured NHBE compared with HASM alone after 8 days of in vitro co-culture. In addition, IL-6, IL-8, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 and, more markedly, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 concentration increased in co-culture correlating with enhanced HASM growth. Inhibiting MMP-9 release significantly attenuated the NHBE-dependent HASM proliferation in co-culture. In vivo, the injured rabbit trachea demonstrated proliferation in the smooth muscle (trachealis) region and significant MMP-9 staining, which was absent in the uninjured control. The airway epithelium modulates smooth muscle cell proliferation via a mechanism that involves secretion of soluble mediators including potential smooth muscle mitogens such as IL-6, IL-8, and MCP-1, but also through a novel MMP-9–dependent mechanism.
remodeling; NHBE; injury; MMP-9; HASM
During pregnancy asthma may remain stable, improve or worsen. The factors underlying the deleterious effect of pregnancy on asthma remain unknown. Oxytocin is a neurohypophyseal protein that regulates a number of central and peripheral responses such as uterine contractions and milk ejection. Additional evidence suggests that oxytocin regulates inflammatory processes in other tissues given the ubiquitous expression of the oxytocin receptor. The purpose of this study was to define the role of oxytocin in modulating human airway smooth muscle (HASMCs) function in the presence and absence of IL-13 and TNFα, cytokines known to be important in asthma.
Expression of oxytocin receptor in cultured HASMCs was performed by real time PCR and flow cytomery assays. Responses to oxytocin was assessed by fluorimetry to detect calcium signals while isolated tracheal rings and precision cut lung slices (PCLS) were used to measure contractile responses. Finally, ELISA was used to compare oxytocin levels in the bronchoalveloar lavage (BAL) samples from healthy subjects and those with asthma.
PCR analysis demonstrates that OXTR is expressed in HASMCs under basal conditions and that both interleukin (IL)-13 and tumor necrosis factor (TNFα) stimulate a time-dependent increase in OXTR expression at 6 and 18 hr. Additionally, oxytocin increases cytosolic calcium levels in fura-2-loaded HASMCs that were enhanced in cells treated for 24 hr with IL-13. Interestingly, TNFα had little effect on oxytocin-induced calcium response despite increasing receptor expression. Using isolated murine tracheal rings and PCLS, oxytocin also promoted force generation and airway narrowing. Further, oxytocin levels are detectable in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid derived from healthy subjects as well as from those with asthma.
Taken together, we show that cytokines modulate the expression of functional oxytocin receptors in HASMCs suggesting a potential role for inflammation-induced changes in oxytocin receptor signaling in the regulation of airway hyper-responsiveness in asthma.
Chronic psychosocial stress exacerbates asthma but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that psychosocial stress aggravates allergic airway inflammation by altering innate immune cell function. The effects of stress on airway inflammation, lung function and glucocorticoid responsiveness were studied in a novel in vivo murine model of combined social disruption stress and allergic sensitization. The effects of corticosterone were assessed on cytokine profile and glucocorticoid receptor activation in LPS-stimulated spleen cell cultures in vitro.
Airway inflammation resolved 48 hours after a single allergen provocation in sensitized control mice but not in animals that were repeatedly exposed to stress prior to allergen challenge. The enhanced eosinophilic airway inflammation 48 hours after allergen challenge in these mice was associated with increased levels of IL-5, GM-CSF, IgG1, TARC, TNF-α and IL-6 in the airways and a diminished inhibition of these mediators by corticosterone in LPS-stimulated splenocyte cultures in vitro. Stress-induced reduction of the corticosteroid effects paralleled increased p65 expression and a decreased DNA binding capability of the glucocorticoid receptor in vitro. Further, glucocorticoid receptor mRNA and protein expression in the lungs of mice exposed to both stress and allergen was markedly reduced in comparison with that in either condition alone or in naïve mice. Thus, exposure to repeated social stress prior to allergen inhalation enhances and prolongs airway inflammation and alters corticosterone responsiveness. We speculate that these effects were mediated at least in part by impaired glucocorticoid receptor expression and function.
Rodent; Allergy; Lung; Inflammation; Th1/Th2 Cells
Ozone, a pollutant known to induce airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), increases morbidity and mortality in patients with obstructive airway diseases and asthma. We postulate oxidized lipids mediate in vivo ozone-induced AHR in murine airways.
Male BALB/c mice were exposed to ozone (3 or 6 ppm) or filtered air (controls) for 2 h. Precision cut lung slices (PCLS; 250 µm thickness) containing an intrapulmonary airway (∼0.01 mm2 lumen area) were prepared immediately after exposure or 16 h later. After 24 h, airways were contracted to carbachol (CCh). Log EC50 and Emax values were then calculated by measuring the airway lumen area with respect to baseline. In parallel studies, dexamethasone (2.5 mg/kg), or 1-aminobenzotriazol (ABT) (50 mg/kg) were given intraperitoneal injection to naïve mice 18 h prior to ozone exposure. Indomethacin (10 mg/kg) was administered 2 h prior. Cell counts, cytokine levels and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) for lipid analysis were assessed in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from ozone exposed and control mice. Ozone acutely induced AHR to CCh. Dexamethasone or indomethacin had little effect on the ozone-induced AHR; while, ABT, a cytochrome P450 inhibitor, markedly attenuated airway sensitivity. BAL fluid from ozone exposed animals, which did not contain an increase in neutrophils or interleukin (IL)-6 levels, increased airway sensitivity following in vitro incubation with a naïve PCLS. In parallel, significant increases in oxidized lipids were also identified using LC-MS with increases of 20-HETE that were decreased following ABT treatment.
These data show that ozone acutely induces AHR to CCh independent of inflammation and is insensitive to steroid treatment or cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition. BAL fluid from ozone exposed mice mimicked the effects of in vivo ozone exposure that were associated with marked increases in oxidized lipids. 20-HETE plays a pivotal role in mediating acute ozone-induced AHR.
Paracrine signaling from lung epithelium to the surrounding mesenchyme is important for lung SMC development and function and is a contributing factor in an array of pulmonary diseases such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pulmonary hypertension, and asthma. Wnt7b, which is exclusively expressed in the lung epithelium, is important for lung vascular smooth muscle integrity, but the underlying mechanism by which Wnt signaling regulates lung SMC development is unclear. In this report, we have demonstrated that Wnt7b regulates a program of mesenchymal differentiation in the mouse lung that is essential for SMC development. Genetic loss-of-function studies showed that Wnt7b and β-catenin were required for expression of Pdgfrα and Pdgfrβ and proliferation in pulmonary SMC precursors. In contrast, gain-of-function studies showed that activation of Wnt signaling increased the expression of both Pdgfrα and Pdgfrβ as well as the proliferation of SMC precursors. We further showed that the effect on Pdgfr expression was, in part, mediated by direct transcriptional regulation of the ECM protein tenascin C (Tnc), which was necessary and sufficient for Pdgfrα/β expression in lung explants. Moreover, this pathway was highly upregulated in a mouse model of asthma and in lung tissue from patients with pulmonary hypertension. Together, these data define a Wnt/Tnc/Pdgfr signaling axis that is critical for smooth muscle development and disease progression in the lung.
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) plays a pivotal role in modulating bronchomotor tone but also orchestrates and perpetuates airway inflammation and remodeling. Despite substantial research, there remain important unanswered questions. In 2006, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sponsored a workshop to define new directions in ASM biology. Important questions concerning the key functions of ASM include the following: Does developmental dysregulation of ASM function promote airway disease, what key signaling pathways in ASM evoke airway hyperresponsiveness in vivo, do alterations in ASM mass affect excitation–contraction coupling, and can ASM modulate airway inflammation and remodeling in a physiologically relevant manner? This workshop identified critical issues in ASM biology to delineate areas for scientific investigation in the identification of new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis.
myocyte; signal transduction; force generation; migration; remodeling