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2.  Lipoxin Signaling in Murine Lung Host Responses to Cryptococcus neoformans Infection 
Lipoxins (LX) are proresolving mediators that augment host defense against bacterial infection. Here, we investigated roles for LX in lung clearance of the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans (Cne). After intranasal inoculation of 5,000 CFU Cne, C57BL/6 and C.B-17 mice exhibited strain-dependent differences in Cne clearance, immunologic responses, and lipoxin A4 (LXA4) formation and receptor (ALX/FPR2) expression. Compared with C.B-17 mice, C57BL/6 lungs had increased and persistent Cne infection 14 days after inoculation, increased eosinophils, and distinct profiles of inflammatory cytokines. Relative to C.B-17 mice, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid levels of LXA4 were increased before and after infection in C57BL/6. The kinetics for 15-epi-LXA4 production were similar in both strains. Lung basal expression of the LX biosynthetic enzyme Alox12/15 (12/15-lipoxygenase) was increased in C57BL/6 mice and further increased after Cne infection. In contrast, lung basal expression of the LXA4 receptor Alx/Fpr2 was higher in C.B-17 relative to C57BL/6 mice, and after Cne infection, Alx/Fpr2 expression was significantly increased in only C.B-17 mice. Heat-killed Cne initiated lung cell generation of IFN-γ and IL-17 and was further increased in C.B-17 mice by 15-epi-LXA4. A trend toward reduced Cne clearance and IFN-γ production was observed upon in vivo administration of an ALX/FPR2 antagonist. Together, these findings provide the first evidence that alterations in cellular immunity against Cne are associated with differences in LXA4 production and receptor expression, suggesting an important role for ALX/FPR2 signaling in the regulation of pathogen-mediated inflammation and antifungal lung host defense.
PMCID: PMC4742922  PMID: 26039320
lipoxin A4; ALX/FPR2; Cryptococcus neoformans; pneumonia; resolution
3.  Role of Matrix Metalloproteinases-1 and -2 in Interleukin-13–Suppressed Elastin in Airway Fibroblasts in Asthma 
Elastin synthesis and degradation in the airway and lung parenchyma contribute to airway mechanics, including airway patency and elastic recoil. IL-13 mediates many features of asthma pathobiology, including airway remodeling, but the effects of IL-13 on elastin architecture in the airway wall are not known. We hypothesized that IL-13 modulates elastin expression in airway fibroblasts from subjects with allergic asthma. Twenty-five subjects with mild asthma (FEV1, 89 ± 3% predicted) and 30 normal control subjects (FEV1, 102 ± 2% predicted) underwent bronchoscopy with endobronchial biopsy. Elastic fibers were visualized in airway biopsy specimens using Weigert’s resorcin-fuchsin elastic stain. Airway fibroblasts were exposed to IL-13; a pan-matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitor (GM6001); specific inhibitors to MMP-1, -2, -3, and -8; and combinations of IL-13 with MMP inhibitors in separate conditions in serum-free media for 48 hours. Elastin (ELN) expression as well as MMP secretion and activity were quantified. Results of this study show that elastic fiber staining of airway biopsy tissue was significantly associated with methacholine PC20 (i.e., the provocative concentration of methacholine resulting in a 20% fall in FEV1 levels) in patients with asthma. IL-13 significantly suppressed ELN expression in asthmatic airway fibroblasts as compared with normal control fibroblasts. The effect of IL-13 on ELN expression was significantly correlated with postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC in patients with asthma. MMP inhibition significantly stimulated ELN expression in patients with asthma as compared with normal control subjects. Specific inhibition of MMP-1 and MMP-2, but not MMP-3 or MMP-8, reversed the IL-13–induced suppression of ELN expression. In asthma, MMP-1 and MMP-2 mediate IL-13–induced suppression of ELN expression in airway fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC4742923  PMID: 26074138
asthma; fibroblast; interleukin-13; elastin; matrix metalloproteinase
4.  Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor γ and microRNA 98 in Hypoxia-Induced Endothelin-1 Signaling 
Endothelin-1 (ET-1) plays a critical role in endothelial dysfunction and contributes to the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH). We hypothesized that peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ) stimulates microRNAs that inhibit ET-1 and pulmonary artery endothelial cell (PAEC) proliferation. The objective of this study was to clarify molecular mechanisms by which PPARγ regulates ET-1 expression in vitro and in vivo. In PAECs isolated from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, microRNA (miR)-98 expression was reduced, and ET-1 protein levels and proliferation were increased. Similarly, hypoxia reduced miR-98 and increased ET-1 levels and PAEC proliferation in vitro. In vivo, hypoxia reduced miR-98 expression and increased ET-1 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) levels in mouse lung, derangements that were aggravated by treatment with the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor antagonist Sugen5416. Reporter assays confirmed that miR-98 binds directly to the ET-1 3′-untranslated region. Compared with littermate control mice, miR-98 levels were reduced and ET-1 and PCNA expression were increased in lungs from endothelial-targeted PPARγ knockout mice, whereas miR-98 levels were increased and ET-1 and PCNA expression was reduced in lungs from endothelial-targeted PPARγ–overexpression mice. Gain or loss of PPARγ function in PAECs in vitro confirmed that alterations in PPARγ were sufficient to regulate miR-98, ET-1, and PCNA expression. Finally, PPARγ activation with rosiglitazone regimens that attenuated hypoxia-induced PH in vivo and human PAEC proliferation in vitro restored miR-98 levels. The results of this study show that PPARγ regulates miR-98 to modulate ET-1 expression and PAEC proliferation. These results further clarify molecular mechanisms by which PPARγ participates in PH pathogenesis and therapy.
PMCID: PMC4742924  PMID: 26098770
PPARγ; ET-1; pulmonary hypertension; hypoxia; miR-98
5.  Novel Mechanisms for the Antifibrotic Action of Nintedanib 
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease with relentless course and limited therapeutic options. Nintedanib (BIBF-1120) is a multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitor recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of IPF. The precise antifibrotic mechanism(s) of action of nintedanib, however, is not known. Therefore, we studied the effects of nintedanib on fibroblasts isolated from the lungs of patients with IPF. Protein and gene expression of profibrotic markers were assessed by Western immunoblotting and real-time PCR. Autophagy markers and signaling events were monitored by biochemical assays, Western immunoblotting, microscopy, and immunofluorescence staining. Silencing of autophagy effector proteins was achieved with small interfering RNAs. Nintedanib down-regulated protein and mRNA expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, fibronectin, and collagen 1a1 while inhibiting transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1–induced myofibroblast differentiation. Nintedanib also induced beclin-1–dependent, ATG7-independent autophagy. Nintedanib’s ECM-suppressive actions were not mediated by canonical autophagy. Nintedanib inhibited early events in TGF-β signaling, specifically tyrosine phosphorylation of the type II TGF-β receptor, activation of SMAD3, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Nintedanib down-regulates ECM production and induces noncanonical autophagy in IPF fibroblasts while inhibiting TGF-β signaling. These mechanisms appear to be uncoupled and function independently to mediate its putative antifibrotic effects.
PMCID: PMC4742925  PMID: 26072676
fibrosis; nintedanib; fibroblasts; autophagy; transforming growth factor-β
6.  Reversal of the Transcriptome by Prostaglandin E2 during Myofibroblast Dedifferentiation 
Myofibroblasts, the major effector cells in pathologic fibrosis, derive from the differentiation of fibroblasts driven by mediators such as transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and biomechanical signals. Although the myofibroblast has traditionally been considered a terminally differentiated cell, the lipid mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has been shown to not only prevent but also reverse myofibroblast differentiation, as characterized by the ability of PGE2 to diminish expression of collagen I and α-smooth muscle actin in established myofibroblasts. Here, we use microarrays to examine the extent of transcriptomic changes that occur during TGF-β1–induced differentiation and PGE2-induced dedifferentiation of myofibroblasts. Normal primary human adult lung fibroblasts were cultured for 24 hours with or without TGF-β1 and treated for 48 hours with PGE2. Gene expression levels were assessed from total RNA on the Affymetrix U219 microarray. TGF-β1 up-regulated 588 genes and down-regulated 689 genes compared with control cells. PGE2 reversed the expression of 363 (62%) of the TGF-β1–up-regulated genes and 345 (50%) of the TGF-β1–down-regulated genes. Genes up-regulated by TGF-β1 and reversed by PGE2 were enriched in annotations for Cell Adhesion, Contractile Fiber, and Actin Binding, whereas genes down-regulated by TGF-β1 but subsequently reversed by PGE2 were enriched in annotations for Glycoprotein, Polysaccharide Binding, and Regulation of Cell Migration. Surprisingly, the genes whose expression was affected by PGE2 differed between TGF-β1–induced myofibroblasts and undifferentiated fibroblasts. These data demonstrate the capacity of PGE2 to effect marked global alterations in the transcriptomic program of differentiated myofibroblasts and emphasize the considerable plasticity of these cells.
PMCID: PMC4742926  PMID: 26098591
pulmonary fibrosis; microarray; fibroblasts; transforming growth factor β1; prostaglandin E2
7.  Impaired E Prostanoid2 Expression and Resistance to Prostaglandin E2 in Nasal Polyp Fibroblasts from Subjects with Aspirin-Exacerbated Respiratory Disease 
Recurrent, rapidly growing nasal polyps are hallmarks of aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), although the mechanisms of polyp growth have not been identified. Fibroblasts are intimately involved in tissue remodeling, and the growth of fibroblasts is suppressed by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which elicits antiproliferative effects mediated through the E prostanoid (EP)2 receptor. We now report that cultured fibroblasts from the nasal polyps of subjects with AERD resist this antiproliferative effect. Fibroblasts from polyps of subjects with AERD resisted the antiproliferative actions of PGE2 and a selective EP2 agonist (P < 0.0001 at 1 μM) compared with nasal fibroblasts from aspirin-tolerant control subjects undergoing polypectomy or from healthy control subjects undergoing concha bullosa resections. Cell surface expression of the EP2 receptor protein was lower in fibroblasts from subjects with AERD than in fibroblasts from healthy control subjects and aspirin-tolerant subjects (P < 0.01 for both). Treatment of the fibroblasts with trichostatin A, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, significantly increased EP2 receptor mRNA in fibroblasts from AERD and aspirin-tolerant subjects but had no effect on cyclooxygenase-2, EP4, and microsomal PGE synthase 1 (mPGES-1) mRNA levels. Histone acetylation (H3K27ac) at the EP2 promoter correlated strongly with baseline EP2 mRNA (r = 0.80; P < 0.01). These studies suggest that the EP2 promotor is under epigenetic control, and one explanation for PGE2 resistance in AERD is an epigenetically mediated reduction of EP2 receptor expression, which could contribute to the refractory nasal polyposis typically observed in this syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4742927  PMID: 26051534
aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease; prostaglandin E2; E prostanoid type 2 receptor; histone acetylation; DNA methylation
8.  Facilitation of Allergic Sensitization and Allergic Airway Inflammation by Pollen-Induced Innate Neutrophil Recruitment 
Neutrophil recruitment is a hallmark of rapid innate immune responses. Exposure of airways of naive mice to pollens rapidly induces neutrophil recruitment. The innate mechanisms that regulate pollen-induced neutrophil recruitment and the contribution of this neutrophilic response to subsequent induction of allergic sensitization and inflammation need to be elucidated. Here we show that ragweed pollen extract (RWPE) challenge in naive mice induces C-X-C motif ligand (CXCL) chemokine synthesis, which stimulates chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 2 (CXCR2)-dependent recruitment of neutrophils into the airways. Deletion of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) abolishes CXCL chemokine secretion and neutrophil recruitment induced by a single RWPE challenge and inhibits induction of allergic sensitization and airway inflammation after repeated exposures to RWPE. Forced induction of CXCL chemokine secretion and neutrophil recruitment in mice lacking TLR4 also reconstitutes the ability of multiple challenges of RWPE to induce allergic airway inflammation. Blocking RWPE-induced neutrophil recruitment in wild-type mice by administration of a CXCR2 inhibitor inhibits the ability of repeated exposures to RWPE to stimulate allergic sensitization and airway inflammation. Administration of neutrophils derived from naive donor mice into the airways of Tlr4 knockout recipient mice after each repeated RWPE challenge reconstitutes allergic sensitization and inflammation in these mice. Together these observations indicate that pollen-induced recruitment of neutrophils is TLR4 and CXCR2 dependent and that recruitment of neutrophils is a critical rate-limiting event that stimulates induction of allergic sensitization and airway inflammation. Inhibiting pollen-induced recruitment of neutrophils, such as by administration of CXCR2 antagonists, may be a novel strategy to prevent initiation of pollen-induced allergic airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4742928  PMID: 26086549
neutrophil; allergic inflammation; CXCR2; reactive oxygen species; Toll-like receptor 4
9.  Role of Aspergillus fumigatus in Triggering Protease-Activated Receptor-2 in Airway Epithelial Cells and Skewing the Cells toward a T-helper 2 Bias 
Aspergillus fumigatus (AF) infection and sensitization are common and promote Th2 disease in individuals with asthma. Innate immune responses of bronchial epithelial cells are now known to play a key role in determination of T cell responses upon encounter with inhaled pathogens. We have recently shown that extracts of AF suppress JAK-STAT signaling in epithelial cells and thus may promote Th2 bias. To elucidate the impact of AF on human bronchial epithelial cells, we tested the hypothesis that AF can modulate the response of airway epithelial cells to favor a Th2 response and explored the molecular mechanism of the effect. Primary normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells were treated with AF extract or fractionated AF extract before stimulation with poly I:C or infection with human rhinovirus serotype 16 (HRV16). Expression of CXCL10 mRNA (real-time RT-PCR) and protein (ELISA) were measured as markers of IFN-mediated epithelial Th1–biased responses. Western blot was performed to evaluate expression of IFN regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3), NF-κB, and tyrosine-protein phosphatase nonreceptor type 11 (PTPN11), which are other markers of Th1 skewing. Knockdown experiments for protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) and PTPN11 were performed to analyze the role of PAR-2 in the mechanism of suppression by AF. AF and a high-molecular-weight fraction of AF extract (HMW-AF; > 50 kD) profoundly suppressed poly I:C– and HRV16-induced expression of both CXCL10 mRNA and protein from NHBE cells via a mechanism that relied upon PAR-2 activation. Both AF extract and a specific PAR-2 activator (AC-55541) suppressed the poly I:C activation of phospho–IRF-3 without affecting activation of NF-κB. Furthermore, HMW-AF extract enhanced the expression of PTPN11, a phosphatase known to inhibit IFN signaling, and concurrently suppressed poly I:C–induced expression of both CXCL10 mRNA and protein from NHBE cells. These results show that exposure of bronchial epithelial cells to AF extract suppressed poly I:C and HRV16 signaling via a mechanism shown to involve activation of PAR-2 and PTPN11. This action of AF may promote viral disease exacerbations and may skew epithelial cells to promote Th2 inflammation in allergic airway disorders mediated or exacerbated by AF, such as asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis.
PMCID: PMC4742929  PMID: 26072921
asthma; CRS; Aspergillus fumigatus; virus; bronchial epithelial cells
10.  Flow Cytometric Analysis of Myeloid Cells in Human Blood, Bronchoalveolar Lavage, and Lung Tissues 
Clear identification of specific cell populations by flow cytometry is important to understand functional roles. A well-defined flow cytometry panel for myeloid cells in human bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and lung tissue is currently lacking. The objective of this study was to develop a flow cytometry–based panel for human BAL and lung tissue. We obtained and performed flow cytometry/sorting on human BAL cells and lung tissue. Confocal images were obtained from lung tissue using antibodies for cluster of differentiation (CD)206, CD169, and E cadherin. We defined a multicolor flow panel for human BAL and lung tissue that identifies major leukocyte populations. These include macrophage (CD206+) subsets and other CD206− leukocytes. The CD206− cells include: (1) three monocyte (CD14+) subsets, (2) CD11c+ dendritic cells (CD14−, CD11c+, HLA-DR+), (3) plasmacytoid dendritic cells (CD14−, CD11c−, HLA-DR+, CD123+), and (4) other granulocytes (neutrophils, mast cells, eosinophils, and basophils). Using this panel on human lung tissue, we defined two populations of pulmonary macrophages: CD169+ and CD169− macrophages. In lung tissue, CD169− macrophages were a prominent cell type. Using confocal microscopy, CD169+ macrophages were located in the alveolar space/airway, defining them as alveolar macrophages. In contrast, CD169− macrophages were associated with airway/alveolar epithelium, consistent with interstitial-associated macrophages. We defined a flow cytometry panel in human BAL and lung tissue that allows identification of multiple immune cell types and delineates alveolar from interstitial-associated macrophages. This study has important implications for defining myeloid cells in human lung samples.
PMCID: PMC4742930  PMID: 26267148
alveolar macrophages; interstitial-associated macrophages; interstitial macrophages; interstitial lung disease
12.  Role of Chitinase 3–Like-1 in Interleukin-18–Induced Pulmonary Type 1, Type 2, and Type 17 Inflammation; Alveolar Destruction; and Airway Fibrosis in the Murine Lung 
Chitinase 3–like 1 (Chi3l1), which is also called YKL-40 in humans and BRP-39 in mice, is the prototypic chitinase-like protein. Recent studies have highlighted its impressive ability to regulate the nature of tissue inflammation and the magnitude of tissue injury and fibroproliferative repair. This can be appreciated in studies that highlight its induction after cigarette smoke exposure, during which it inhibits alveolar destruction and the genesis of pulmonary emphysema. IL-18 is also known to be induced and activated by cigarette smoke, and, in murine models, the IL-18 pathway has been shown to be necessary and sufficient to generate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease–like inflammation, fibrosis, and tissue destruction. However, the relationship between Chi3l1 and IL-18 has not been defined. To address this issue we characterized the expression of Chi3l1/BRP-39 in control and lung-targeted IL-18 transgenic mice. We also characterized the effects of transgenic IL-18 in mice with wild-type and null Chi3l1 loci. The former studies demonstrated that IL-18 is a potent stimulator of Chi3l1/BRP-39 and that this stimulation is mediated via IFN-γ–, IL-13–, and IL-17A–dependent mechanisms. The latter studies demonstrated that, in the absence of Chi3l1/BRP-39, IL-18 induced type 2 and type 17 inflammation and fibrotic airway remodeling were significantly ameliorated, whereas type 1 inflammation, emphysematous alveolar destruction, and the expression of cytotoxic T lymphocyte perforin, granzyme, and retinoic acid early transcript 1 expression were enhanced. These studies demonstrate that IL-18 is a potent stimulator of Chi3l1 and that Chi3l1 is an important mediator of IL-18–induced inflammatory, fibrotic, alveolar remodeling, and cytotoxic responses.
PMCID: PMC4742933  PMID: 25955511
Chi3l1; IL-18; airway fibrosis; alveolar remodeling; COPD
13.  Role of Krev Interaction Trapped-1 in Prostacyclin-Induced Protection against Lung Vascular Permeability Induced by Excessive Mechanical Forces and Thrombin Receptor Activating Peptide 6 
Mechanisms of vascular endothelial cell (EC) barrier regulation during acute lung injury (ALI) or other pathologies associated with increased vascular leakiness are an active area of research. Adaptor protein krev interaction trapped-1 (KRIT1) participates in angiogenesis, lumen formation, and stabilization of EC adherens junctions (AJs) in mature vasculature. We tested a role of KRIT1 in the regulation of Rho-GTPase signaling induced by mechanical stimulation and barrier dysfunction relevant to ventilator-induced lung injury and investigated KRIT1 involvement in EC barrier protection by prostacyclin (PC). PC stimulated Ras-related protein 1 (Rap1)–dependent association of KRIT1 with vascular endothelial cadherin at AJs, with KRIT1-dependent cortical cytoskeletal remodeling leading to EC barrier enhancement. KRIT1 knockdown exacerbated Rho-GTPase activation and EC barrier disruption induced by pathologic 18% cyclic stretch and thrombin receptor activating peptide (TRAP) 6 and attenuated the protective effects of PC. In the two-hit model of ALI caused by high tidal volume (HTV) mechanical ventilation and TRAP6 injection, KRIT1 functional deficiency in KRIT1+/− mice increased basal lung vascular leak and augmented vascular leak and lung injury caused by exposure to HTV and TRAP6. Down-regulation of KRIT1 also diminished the protective effects of PC against TRAP6/HTV-induced lung injury. These results demonstrate a KRIT1-dependent mechanism of vascular EC barrier control in basal conditions and in the two-hit model of ALI caused by excessive mechanical forces and TRAP6 via negative regulation of Rho activity and enhancement of cell junctions. We also conclude that the stimulation of the Rap1-KRIT1 signaling module is a major mechanism of vascular endothelial barrier protection by PC in the injured lung.
PMCID: PMC4742934  PMID: 25923142
cyclic stretch; ventilator-induced lung injury; KRIT1; RhoA; Rap1
14.  Efficacy of Leukadherin-1 in the Prevention of Hyperoxia-Induced Lung Injury in Neonatal Rats 
Lung inflammation plays a key role in the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease of premature infants. The challenge in BPD management is the lack of effective and safe antiinflammatory agents. Leukadherin-1 (LA1) is a novel agonist of the leukocyte surface integrin CD11b/CD18 that enhances leukocyte adhesion to ligands and vascular endothelium and thus reduces leukocyte transendothelial migration and influx to the injury sites. Its functional significance in preventing hyperoxia-induced neonatal lung injury is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that administration of LA1 is beneficial in preventing hyperoxia-induced neonatal lung injury, an experimental model of BPD. Newborn rats were exposed to normoxia (21% O2) or hyperoxia (85% O2) and received twice-daily intraperitoneal injection of LA1 or placebo for 14 days. Hyperoxia exposure in the presence of the placebo resulted in a drastic increase in the influx of neutrophils and macrophages into the alveolar airspaces. This increased leukocyte influx was accompanied by decreased alveolarization and angiogenesis and increased pulmonary vascular remodeling and pulmonary hypertension (PH), the pathological hallmarks of BPD. However, administration of LA1 decreased macrophage infiltration in the lungs during hyperoxia. Furthermore, treatment with LA1 improved alveolarization and angiogenesis and decreased pulmonary vascular remodeling and PH. These data indicate that leukocyte recruitment plays an important role in the experimental model of BPD induced by hyperoxia. Targeting leukocyte trafficking using LA1, an integrin agonist, is beneficial in preventing lung inflammation and protecting alveolar and vascular structures during hyperoxia. Thus, targeting integrin-mediated leukocyte recruitment and inflammation may provide a novel strategy in preventing and treating BPD in preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC4742935  PMID: 25909334
LA1; integrin; hyperoxia; BPD; inflammation
15.  Regulation of Retinoic Acid Receptor Beta by Interleukin-15 in the Lung during Cigarette Smoking and Influenza Virus Infection 
Virus-induced exacerbations often lead to further impairment of lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. IL-15 is critical in antiviral immune responses. Retinoic acid (RA) signaling plays an important role in tissue maintenance and repair, particularly in the lung. We studied RA signaling and its relation to IL-15 in the lung during cigarette smoke (CS) exposure and influenza virus infection. In vivo studies show that RA signaling is diminished by long-term CS exposure or influenza virus infection alone, which is further attenuated during infection after CS exposure. RA receptor β (RARβ) is specifically decreased in the lung of IL-15 transgenic (overexpression; IL-15Tg) mice, and a greater reduction in RARβ is found in these mice compared with wild-type (WT) mice after infection. RARβ is increased in IL-15 knockout (IL-15KO) mice compared with WT mice after infection, and the additive effect of CS and virus on RARβ down-regulation is diminished in IL-15KO mice. IL-15 receptor α (IL-15Rα) is increased and RARβ is significantly decreased in lung interstitial macrophages from IL-15Tg mice compared with WT mice. In vitro studies show that IL-15 down-regulates RARβ in macrophages via IL-15Rα signaling during influenza virus infection. These studies suggest that RA signaling is significantly diminished in the lung by CS exposure and influenza virus infection. IL-15 specifically down-regulates RARβ expression, and RARβ may play a protective role in lung injury caused by CS exposure and viral infections.
PMCID: PMC4742936  PMID: 25923039
IL-15; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; retinoic acid receptor; cigarette smoke; influenza
16.  Attenuated Airway Epithelial Cell Interleukin-22R1 Expression in the Infant Nonhuman Primate Lung 
Respiratory tract infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children under 5 years of age. Increased susceptibility to infection is associated with deficiencies in immunity during early childhood. Airway epithelium represents the first line of mucosal defense against inhaled pathogens. However, little is known about epithelial immune mechanisms in the maturing lung. IL-22 and its receptor IL-22R1 are important in host defense and repair of epithelial barriers. The objective of this study was to determine whether a quantitative difference in IL-22R1 exists between infant and adult airways using the rhesus macaque monkey as a model of childhood lung development. Immunofluorescence staining of tracheal tissue revealed minimal expression of IL-22R1 in epithelium at 1 month of age, with a progressive increase in fluorescence-positive basal cells through 1 year of age. Western blot analysis of tracheal lysates confirmed significant age-dependent differences in IL-22R1 protein content. Further, primary tracheobronchial epithelial cell cultures established from infant and adult monkeys showed differential IL-22R1 mRNA and protein expression in vitro. To begin to assess the regulation of age-dependent IL-22R1 expression in airway epithelium, the effect of histone deacetylase and DNA methyltransferase inhibitors was evaluated. IL-22R1 mRNA in adult cultures was not altered by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine or trichostatin A. IL-22R1 mRNA in infant cultures showed no change with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine but was significantly increased after trichostatin A treatment; however, IL-22R1 protein did not increase concurrently. These data suggest that IL-22R1 in airway epithelium is regulated, in part, by epigenetic mechanisms that are dependent on chronologic age.
PMCID: PMC4742937  PMID: 26309027
respiratory development; primate; epigenetic; innate immunity; trichostatin A
17.  Role of Exchange Protein Activated by cAMP 1 in Regulating Rates of Microtubule Formation in Cystic Fibrosis Epithelial Cells 
The regulation of microtubule dynamics in cystic fibrosis (CF) epithelial cells and the consequences of reduced rates of microtubule polymerization on downstream CF cellular events, such as cholesterol accumulation, a marker of impaired intracellular transport, are explored here. It is identified that microtubules in both CF cell models and in primary CF nasal epithelial cells repolymerize at a slower rate compared with respective controls. Previous studies suggest a role for cAMP in modulating organelle transport in CF cells, implicating a role for exchange protein activated by cAMP (EPAC) 1, a regulator of microtubule elongation, as a potential mechanism. EPAC1 activity is reduced in CF cell models and in Cftr−/− mouse lung compared with respective non-CF controls. Stimulation of EPAC1 activity with the selective EPAC1 agonist, 8-cpt-2-O-Me-cAMP, stimulates microtubule repolymerization to wild-type rates in CF cells. EPAC1 activation also alleviates cholesterol accumulation in CF cells, suggesting a direct link between microtubule regulation and intracellular transport. To verify the relationship between transport and microtubule regulation, expression of the protein, tubulin polymerization–promoting protein, was knocked down in non-CF human tracheal (9/HTEo−) cells to mimic the microtubule dysregulation in CF cells. Transduced cells with short hairpin RNA targeting tubulin polymerization–promoting protein exhibit CF-like perinuclear cholesterol accumulation and other cellular manifestations of CF cells, thus supporting a role for microtubule regulation as a mechanism linking CFTR function to downstream cellular manifestation.
PMCID: PMC4742938  PMID: 25955407
exchange protein activated by cAMP 1; cystic fibrosis; Rap1; microtubules; cholesterol
18.  Disruption of Sirtuin 1–Mediated Control of Circadian Molecular Clock and Inflammation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth most common cause of death, and it is characterized by abnormal inflammation and lung function decline. Although the circadian molecular clock regulates inflammatory responses, there is no information available regarding the impact of COPD on lung molecular clock function and its regulation by sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). We hypothesize that the molecular clock in the lungs is disrupted, leading to increased inflammatory responses in smokers and patients with COPD and its regulation by SIRT1. Lung tissues, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and sputum cells were obtained from nonsmokers, smokers, and patients with COPD for measurement of core molecular clock proteins (BMAL1, CLOCK, PER1, PER2, and CRY1), clock-associated nuclear receptors (REV-ERBα, REV-ERBβ, and RORα), and SIRT1 by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and immunoblot. PBMCs were treated with the SIRT1 activator SRT1720 followed by LPS treatment, and supernatant was collected at 6-hour intervals. Levels of IL-8, IL-6, and TNF-α released from PBMCs were determined by ELISA. Expression of BMAL1, PER2, CRY1, and REV-ERBα was reduced in PBMCs, sputum cells, and lung tissues from smokers and patients with COPD when compared with nonsmokers. SRT1720 treatment attenuated LPS-mediated reduction of BMAL1 and REV-ERBα in PBMCs from nonsmokers. Additionally, LPS differentially affected the timing and amplitude of cytokine (IL-8, IL-6, and TNF-α) release from PBMCs in nonsmokers, smokers, and patients with COPD. Moreover, SRT1720 was able to inhibit LPS-induced cytokine release from cultured PBMCs. In conclusion, disruption of the molecular clock due to SIRT1 reduction contributes to abnormal inflammatory response in smokers and patients with COPD.
PMCID: PMC4742939  PMID: 25905433
circadian rhythm; SIRT1; REV-ERBα; BMAL1; smokers
19.  Genetic Variation along the Histamine Pathway in Children with Allergic versus Nonallergic Asthma 
Histamine is an important mediator in the pathogenesis of asthma. Variation in genes along the histamine production, response, and degradation pathway may be important in predicting response to antihistamines. We hypothesize that differences exist among single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes of the histamine pathway between children with allergic versus nonallergic asthma. Children (7–18 yr of age; n = 202) with asthma were classified as allergic or nonallergic based on allergy skin testing. Genotyping was performed to detect known SNPs (n = 10) among genes (HDC, HNMT, ABP1, HRH1, and HRH4) within the histamine pathway. Chi square tests and Cochran-Armitage Trend were used to identify associations between genetic variants and allergic or nonallergic asthma. Significance was determined by P < 0.05 and false-positive report probability. After correction for race differences in genotype were observed, HRH1-17 TT (6% allergic versus 0% nonallergic; P = 0.04), HNMT-464 TT (41% allergic versus 29% nonallergic; P = 0.04), and HNMT-1639 TT (30% allergic versus 20% nonallergic; P = 0.04) were overrepresented among children with allergic asthma. Genotype differences specifically among the African-American children were also observed: HRH1-17 TT (13% allergic versus 0% nonallergic; P = 0.04) and HNMT-1639 TT (23% allergic versus 3% nonallergic; P = 0.03) genotypes were overrepresented among African-American children with allergic asthma. Our study suggests that genetic variation within the histamine pathway may be associated with an allergic versus nonallergic asthma phenotype. Further studies are needed to determine the functional significance of identified SNPs and their impact on antihistamine response in patients with asthma and allergic disease.
PMCID: PMC4742940  PMID: 25909280
asthma; genetics; histamine
20.  Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor γ–Mediated Inhibition on Hypoxia-Triggered Store-Operated Calcium Entry. A Caveolin-1–Dependent Mechanism 
Our previous publication demonstrated that peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ) inhibits the pathogenesis of chronic hypoxia (CH)–induced pulmonary hypertension by targeting store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) in rat distal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). In this study, we aim to determine the role of a membrane scaffolding protein, caveolin-1, during the suppressive process of PPARγ on SOCE. Adult (6–8 weeks) male Wistar rats (200–250 g) were exposed to CH (10% O2) for 21 days to establish CH-induced pulmonary hypertension. Primary cultured rat distal PASMCs were applied for the molecular biological experiments. First, hypoxic exposure led to 2.5-fold and 1-fold increases of caveolin-1 protein expression in the distal pulmonary arteries and PASMCs, respectively. Second, effective knockdown of caveolin-1 significantly reduced hypoxia-induced SOCE for 58.2% and 41.5%, measured by Mn2+ quenching and extracellular Ca2+ restoration experiments, respectively. These results suggested that caveolin-1 acts as a crucial regulator of SOCE, and hypoxia–up-regulated caveolin-1 largely accounts for hypoxia-elevated SOCE in PASMCs. Then, by using a high-potency PPARγ agonist, GW1929, we detected that PPARγ activation inhibited SOCE and caveolin-1 protein for 62.5% and 59.8% under hypoxia, respectively, suggesting that caveolin-1 also acts as a key target during the suppressive process of PPARγ on SOCE in PASMCs. Moreover, by using effective small interfering RNAs against PPARγ and caveolin-1, and PPARγ antagonist, T0070907, we observed that PPARγ plays an inhibitory role on caveolin-1 protein by promoting its lysosomal degradation, without affecting the messenger RNA level. PPARγ inhibits SOCE, at least partially, by suppressing cellular caveolin-1 protein in PASMCs.
PMCID: PMC4742941  PMID: 26020612
pulmonary hypertension; peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ; caveolin-1; store-operated calcium entry; pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells
21.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Expression in Asthma. Association with Severity and Type 2 Inflammatory Processes 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family, exists in several isoforms, which differentially impacts neuronal and immune cell survival and differentiation. The role of BDNF and its isoforms in asthma remains unclear. The objectives of this study were to compare the BDNF protein isoforms and specific splice variant expression in sputum and bronchoscopic samples from healthy control subjects and participants with asthma, and to relate these changes to findings in IL-13–stimulated human airway epithelial cells. Sputum and bronchoscopic samples from healthy control subjects and participants with asthma were evaluated for BDNF protein (ELISA and Western blot) and BDNF mRNA (gel and quantitative real-time PCR) in relation to asthma severity and type 2 inflammatory processes. BDNF mRNA was measured in cultured primary human airway epithelial cells after IL-13 stimulation. Total BDNF protein differed among the groups, and its mature isoform was significantly higher in sputum from subjects with severe asthma compared with healthy control subjects (overall P = 0.008, P = 0.027, respectively). Total BDNF was higher in those with elevated fractional exhaled nitric oxide and sputum eosinophilia. In vitro, IL-13 increased BDNF exon VIb splice variant and the ratio to BDNF common exon IX mRNA (P < 0.001, P = 0.003, respectively). Epithelial brushing exon VIb mRNA and total BDNF protein differed among the groups and were higher in subjects with severe asthma than in healthy control subjects (overall P = 0.01, P = 0.02, respectively). The mature BDNF isoform and the exon VIb splice variant are increased in human asthmatic airways. The in vitro increase in response to IL-13 suggests that type 2 cytokines regulate BDNF levels and activity in asthma.
PMCID: PMC4742942  PMID: 25945802
asthma; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; IL-13; epithelial cells; sputum
22.  Epigenetic Regulation of Tolerance to Toll-Like Receptor Ligands in Alveolar Epithelial Cells 
To protect the host against exuberant inflammation and injury responses, cells have the ability to become hyporesponsive or “tolerized” to repeated stimulation by microbial and nonmicrobial insults. The lung airspace is constantly exposed to a variety of exogenous and endogenous Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, yet the ability of alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) to be tolerized has yet to be examined. We hypothesize that type II AECs will develop a tolerance phenotype upon repeated TLR agonist exposure. To test this hypothesis, primary AECs isolated from the lungs of mice and a murine AEC cell line (MLE-12) were stimulated with either a vehicle control or a TLR ligand for 18 hours, washed, then restimulated with either vehicle or TLR ligand for an additional 6 hours. Tolerance was assessed by measurement of TLR ligand–stimulated chemokine production (monocyte chemoattractant protein [MCP]-1/CCL2, keratinocyte chemoattractant [KC]/CXCL1, and macrophage inflammatory protein [MIP]-2/CXCL2). Sequential treatment of primary AECs or MLE-12 cells with TLR agonists resulted in induction of either tolerance or cross-tolerance. The induction of tolerance was not due to expression of specific negative regulators of TLR signaling (interleukin-1 receptor associated kinase [IRAK]-M, Toll-interacting protein [Tollip], single Ig IL-1–related receptor [SIGIRR], or suppressor of cytokine signaling [SOCS]), inhibitory microRNAs (miRs; specifically, miR-155 and miR146a), or secretion of inhibitory or regulatory soluble mediators (prostaglandin E2, IL-10, transforming growth factor-β, or IFN-α/β). Moreover, inhibition of histone demethylation or DNA methylation did not prevent the development of tolerance. However, treatment of AECs with the histone deacetylase inhibitors trichostatin A or suberoylanilide hyrozamine resulted in reversal of the tolerance phenotype. These findings indicate a novel mechanism by which epigenetic modification regulates the induction of tolerance in AECs.
PMCID: PMC4742943  PMID: 25965198
Toll-like receptors; alveolar epithelial cells; endotoxin tolerance; epigenetics
23.  Activation of Transient Receptor Potential Ankyrin-1 by Insoluble Particulate Material and Association with Asthma 
Inhaled irritants activate transient receptor potential ankyrin-1 (TRPA1), resulting in cough, bronchoconstriction, and inflammation/edema. TRPA1 is also implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma. Our hypothesis was that particulate materials activate TRPA1 via a mechanism distinct from chemical agonists and that, in a cohort of children with asthma living in a location prone to high levels of air pollution, expression of uniquely sensitive forms of TRPA1 may correlate with reduced asthma control. Variant forms of TRPA1 were constructed by mutating residues in known functional elements and corresponding to single-nucleotide polymorphisms in functional domains. TRPA1 activity was studied in transfected HEK-293 cells using allyl-isothiocynate, a model soluble electrophilic agonist; 3,5-ditert butylphenol, a soluble nonelectrophilic agonist and a component of diesel exhaust particles; and insoluble coal fly ash (CFA) particles. The N-terminal variants R3C and R58T exhibited greater, but not additive, activity with all three agonists. The ankyrin repeat domain-4 single nucleotide polymorphisms E179K and K186N exhibited decreased response to CFA. The predicted N-linked glycosylation site residues N747A and N753A exhibited decreased responses to CFA, which were not attributable to differences in cellular localization. The pore-loop residue R919Q was comparable to wild-type, whereas N954T was inactive to soluble agonists but not CFA. These data identify roles for ankyrin domain-4, cell surface N-linked glycans, and selected pore-loop domain residues in the activation of TRPA1 by insoluble particles. Furthermore, the R3C and R58T polymorphisms correlated with reduced asthma control for some children, which suggest that TRPA1 activity may modulate asthma, particularly among individuals living in locations prone to high levels of air pollution.
PMCID: PMC4742944  PMID: 26039217
TRPA1; diesel; CFA; lung; SNPs
25.  Regulation of Alveolar Procoagulant Activity and Permeability in Direct Acute Lung Injury by Lung Epithelial Tissue Factor 
Tissue factor (TF) initiates the extrinsic coagulation cascade in response to tissue injury, leading to local fibrin deposition. Low levels of TF in mice are associated with increased severity of acute lung injury (ALI) after intratracheal LPS administration. However, the cellular sources of the TF required for protection from LPS-induced ALI remain unknown. In the current study, transgenic mice with cell-specific deletions of TF in the lung epithelium or myeloid cells were treated with intratracheal LPS to determine the cellular sources of TF important in direct ALI. Cell-specific deletion of TF in the lung epithelium reduced total lung TF expression to 39% of wild-type (WT) levels at baseline and to 29% of WT levels after intratracheal LPS. In contrast, there was no reduction of TF with myeloid cell TF deletion. Mice lacking myeloid cell TF did not differ from WT mice in coagulation, inflammation, permeability, or hemorrhage. However, mice lacking lung epithelial TF had increased tissue injury, impaired activation of coagulation in the airspace, disrupted alveolar permeability, and increased alveolar hemorrhage after intratracheal LPS. Deletion of epithelial TF did not affect alveolar permeability in an indirect model of ALI caused by systemic LPS infusion. These studies demonstrate that the lung epithelium is the primary source of TF in the lung, contributing 60–70% of total lung TF, and that lung epithelial, but not myeloid, TF may be protective in direct ALI.
PMCID: PMC4742948  PMID: 25884207
coagulation; fibrin; pulmonary; acute respiratory distress syndrome; alveolar capillary barrier permeability

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