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1.  Symposium on obesity and asthma –November 2, 2006 
Asthma and obesity are frequently associated, and obesity has been considered a factor contributing to both an increase in severity of asthma and to its development. The present document summarizes the proceedings of a symposium held in Montreal, Quebec, on November 2, 2006, under the auspices of the Réseau en santé respiratoire du Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec in collaboration with the McGill University – Strauss Severe Asthma Program, Université Laval (Quebec City) and Université de Montréal. It includes an overview of the various aspects of the relationships between asthma and obesity with regard to animal models; genetic, hormonal and physiological determinants; influence of comorbidities (eg, sleep apnea syndrome); epidemiology; clinical and psychological features; and management of asthma in the obese population.
PMCID: PMC2676363  PMID: 17551594
Airway inflammation; Asthma; Body mass index; Lung function; Obesity; Sleep apnea syndrome
3.  Very important pharmacogene summary for VDR 
Pharmacogenetics and genomics  2012;22(10):758-763.
PMCID: PMC3678550  PMID: 22588316
drug response; genetic variants; pharmacogenomics; vitamin D receptor
4.  Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Dependent Retention of Nuclear HuR Suppresses Cigarette Smoke-Induced Cyclooxygenase-2 Expression Independent of DNA-Binding 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74953.
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated transcription factor that responds to man-made environmental toxicants, has emerged as an endogenous regulator of cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) by a mechanism that is poorly understood. In this study, we first used AhR-deficient (AhR−/−) primary pulmonary cells, together with pharmacological tools to inhibit new RNA synthesis, to show that the AhR is a prominent factor in the destabilization of Cox-2 mRNA. The destabilization of Cox-2 mRNA and subsequent suppression of cigarette smoke-induced COX-2 protein expression by the AhR was independent of its ability to bind the dioxin response element (DRE), thereby differentiating the DRE-driven toxicological AhR pathway from its anti-inflammatory abilities. We further describe that the AhR destabilizes Cox-2 mRNA by sequestering HuR within the nucleus. The role of HuR in AhR stabilization of Cox-2 mRNA was confirmed by knockdown of HuR, which resulted in rapid Cox-2 mRNA degradation. Finally, in the lungs of AhR−/− mice exposed to cigarette smoke, there was little Cox-2 mRNA despite robust COX-2 protein expression, a finding that correlates with almost exclusive cytoplasmic HuR within the lungs of AhR−/− mice. Therefore, we propose that the AhR plays an important role in suppressing the expression of inflammatory proteins, a function that extends beyond the ability of the AhR to respond to man-made toxicants. These findings open the possibility that a DRE-independent AhR pathway may be exploited therapeutically as an anti-inflammatory target.
PMCID: PMC3785509  PMID: 24086407
5.  Periostin is a systemic biomarker of eosinophilic airway inflammation in asthmatic patients 
Eosinophilic airway inflammation is heterogeneous in asthmatic patients. We recently described a distinct subtype of asthma defined by the expression of genes inducible by TH2 cytokines in bronchial epithelium. This gene signature, which includes periostin, is present in approximately half of asthmatic patients and correlates with eosinophilic airway inflammation. However, identification of this subtype depends on invasive airway sampling, and hence noninvasive biomarkers of this phenotype are desirable.
We sought to identify systemic biomarkers of eosinophilic airway inflammation in asthmatic patients.
We measured fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (Feno), peripheral blood eosinophil, periostin, YKL-40, and IgE levels and compared these biomarkers with airway eosinophilia in asthmatic patients.
We collected sputum, performed bronchoscopy, and matched peripheral blood samples from 67 asthmatic patients who remained symptomatic despite maximal inhaled corticosteroid treatment (mean FEV1, 60% of predicted value; mean Asthma Control Questionnaire [ACQ] score, 2.7). Serum periostin levels are significantly increased in asthmatic patients with evidence of eosinophilic airway inflammation relative to those with minimal eosinophilic airway inflammation. A logistic regression model, including sex, age, body mass index, IgE levels, blood eosinophil numbers, Feno levels, and serum periostin levels, in 59 patients with severe asthma showed that, of these indices, the serum periostin level was the single best predictor of airway eosinophilia (P = .007).
Periostin is a systemic biomarker of airway eosinophilia in asthmatic patients and has potential utility in patient selection for emerging asthma therapeutics targeting TH2 inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3626285  PMID: 22857879
Asthma; biomarker; sputum; bronchoscopy; eosinophil; TH2; IL-13; periostin; IgE; Feno
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.  Induction of GITRL Expression in Human Keratinocytes by TH2 cytokines and TNFα: Implications for Atopic Dermatitis 
Clinical and Experimental Allergy  2012;42(4):550-559.
Glucocorticoid-induced TNF receptor-related protein ligand (GITRL), a ligand for the T cell co-stimulatory molecule GITR, is expressed by keratinocytes and involved in chemokine production. The expression of GITRL in skin inflammation is unknown.
This study investigated cytokine regulation of keratinocyte GITRL expression.
GITRL expression was evaluated in cytokine treated human epidermal keratinocytes (HEK)s, murine PAM 212 cell line, murine and human skin explants by real time PCR, flow cytometry and immunostaining. Functional responses to GITR fusion protein were examined by real time PCR and ELISA. GITRL expression in AD and psoriasis was studied by immunohistochemistry.
Skin biopsies from STAT6VT transgenic mice, which develop spontaneous atopic skin inflammation, were found by immunofluoresence, to have increased keratinocyte GITRL expression. Exposure to Th2 cytokines augmented GITRL mRNA expression in the murine PAM 212 keratinocytic cell line and murine skin explants. In contrast, GITRL mRNA and protein expression was only increased in HEKs and human skin explants in the presence of the combination of TNFα and Th2 cytokines. A synergistic effect of Th2 cytokines and GITR fusion protein on production of CCL17, the Th2 chemokine, by murine keratinocytes was demonstrated. Immunohistochemical staining showed that acute AD lesions have increased expression of GITRL compared with normal skin, chronic AD lesions and psoriatic plaques.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
Our studies demonstrate that GITRL expression is augmented by Th2 cytokines and TNFα in keratinocytes. Increased GITRL expession in acute AD skin lesions is shown. This data suggests a link between cytokine regulated keratinocyte GITRL expression and its role in inflammatory responses in AD.
PMCID: PMC3306062  PMID: 22417213
Skin; Th2 cytokines; atopic dermatitis
8.  Th17 cytokines induce pro-fibrotic cytokines release from human eosinophils 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):34.
Subepithelial fibrosis is one of the most critical structural changes affecting bronchial airway function during asthma. Eosinophils have been shown to contribute to the production of pro-fibrotic cytokines, TGF-β and IL-11, however, the mechanism regulating this process is not fully understood.
In this report, we investigated whether cytokines associated with inflammation during asthma may induce eosinophils to produce pro-fibrotic cytokines.
Eosinophils were isolated from peripheral blood of 10 asthmatics and 10 normal control subjects. Eosinophils were stimulated with Th1, Th2 and Th17 cytokines and the production of TGF-β and IL-11 was determined using real time PCR and ELISA assays.
The basal expression levels of eosinophil derived TGF-β and IL-11 cytokines were comparable between asthmatic and healthy individuals. Stimulating eosinophils with Th1 and Th2 cytokines did not induce expression of pro-fibrotic cytokines. However, stimulating eosinophils with Th17 cytokines resulted in the enhancement of TGF-β and IL-11 expression in asthmatic but not healthy individuals. This effect of IL-17 on eosinophils was dependent on p38 MAPK activation as inhibiting the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK, but not other kinases, inhibited IL-17 induced pro-fibrotic cytokine release.
Th17 cytokines might contribute to airway fibrosis during asthma by enhancing production of eosinophil derived pro-fibrotic cytokines. Preventing the release of pro-fibrotic cytokines by blocking the effect of Th17 cytokines on eosinophils may prove to be beneficial in controlling fibrosis for disorders with IL-17 driven inflammation such as allergic and autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3602055  PMID: 23496774
Asthma; Eosinophils; Th17 cytokines; Pro-fibrotic cytokines; TGF-β; IL-11
9.  Genetic and histological evidence for autophagy in asthma pathogenesis 
PMCID: PMC3268897  PMID: 22040902
asthma pathogenesis; autophagy; lung function; polymorphism; SNP; ATG5; autophagosome
11.  Identification of ATPAF1 as a novel candidate gene for asthma in children 
Asthma is a common disease of children with a complex genetic origin. Understanding the genetic basis of asthma susceptibility will allow disease prediction and risk stratification.
We sought to identify asthma susceptibility genes in children.
A nested case-control genetic association study of children of Caucasian European ancestry from a birth cohort was conducted. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, n=116,024) were genotyped in pools of DNA samples from cohort children with physician-diagnosed asthma (n=112) and normal controls (n=165). A genomic region containing the ATPAF1 gene was significantly associated with asthma. Additional SNPs within this region were genotyped in individual samples from the same children and in eight independent study populations consisting of Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, or other ancestries. SNPs were also genotyped or imputed in two consortia control populations. ATPAF1 expression was measured in bronchial biopsies from asthmatics and controls.
Asthma was associated with a cluster of SNPs and SNP haplotypes containing the ATPAF1 gene with two SNPs achieving significance at a genome-wide level (p=2.26×10−5 to 2.2×10−8). Asthma severity was also associated with SNPs and haplotypes in the primary population. SNP and/or gene-level associations were confirmed in the four non-Hispanic populations. Haplotype associations were confirmed in the non-Hispanic populations (p=0.045 to 0.0009). ATPAF1 total RNA expression was significantly (p<0.01) higher in bronchial biopsies from asthmatics than controls.
Genetic variation in the ATPAF1 gene predisposes children of different ancestry to asthma.
PMCID: PMC3185108  PMID: 21696813
asthma; ATPAF1; children; gene; genetic; genome-wide association; purinergic; respiratory; single nucleotide polymorphism; SNP
12.  Personalized medicine for asthma: Are we there yet? 
Annals of Thoracic Medicine  2012;7(2):55-56.
PMCID: PMC3339203  PMID: 22558007
13.  514 Role of TH-17 Cytokines in Steroid Insensitivity in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells. Relationship to GR-alpha and GR-beta Expression 
Inhaled corticosteroids represent the most common treatment for asthma. Although most asthmatic patients respond well, a significant proportion of severe asthmatics require higher doses or even fail to respond to oral or inhaled corticosteroids. We previously reported that glucocorticoid receptor-beta is associated with corticosteroid resistance in airway epithelial cells from asthmatic patients and that Th-17 cytokines increase steroid insensitivity via a mechanism involving GR-beta upregulation. We aim to investigate whether IL-17A and F cytokines enhance steroid unresponsiveness in PBMCs from normal subjects and severe asthmatics via the upregulation of GR-beta isoform.
PBMCs were cultured for 48 hours in the presence or absence of IL-2, IL-4, IL-17A, IL-17F or IL-23 cytokines. Expression of GR-alpha, GR-beta, GILZ and IL-6 was determined using Q-RT-PCR and/or Western blotting. Response to Dexamethasone was determined on the inhibition of PHA-induced proliferation by Dexamethasone (IC50) using either 3H-thymidine or CFSE-labelled cells. Response of the cells to Dexamethasone-induced apoptosis was determined by Annexin-V staining.
Treatment of PBMCs with IL-17A+IL-17F combined significantly decreased the mRNA expression of GR-alpha while that of GR-beta was significantly upregulated. IL-2+IL-4 in combination significantly decreased GR-alpha expression but had no effect on GR-beta receptor expression. IL17A+IL17F+IL23 combined induced the highest ratio of GR-beta/GR-alpha in PBMC from normal subjects. Either IL-17A+F or IL-2+IL-4 combinations significantly decreased the inhibitory effect of Dexamethasone on PBMC proliferation (IL-17A+F IC50 = 190 nM Dex; IL-2+4 IC50 = 1060 nM Dex), when compared to the control without cytokine stimulation. In the presence of Dexamethasone, IL-2+IL-4 but not IL-17A+IL-17F, inhibited the expression of the glucocorticoid-inducible leucine zipper gene (GILZ) in PBMCs from both normal (60%) and asthmatics (45–50%), which was correlated with significantly higher apoptosis in cells stimulated with IL-2+IL-4.
IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-2, and IL-4, which are known to be upregulated in the blood and lung tissue of asthmatics, contribute to steroid insensitivity of severe asthmatic patients by modulating the expression of GR-alpha and GR-beta receptors on peripheral blood PBMCs. GR-beta could protect PBMCs from Dex-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, the increased GR-beta/GR-alpha ratios by both IL-17A+F and IL-2+4 cytokines correlates with the decreased inhibitory effect of Dexamethasone on PHA-induced PBMC proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3512825
14.  513 IL-17 Role in the Regulatory Function of B Cells 
B lymphocytes are known to be important cytokine sources in inflammation and play a pathogenic role by producing autoantibodies in a number of chronic immunological diseases. However, B cell depletion therapy induced an exacerbation of symptoms in some patients with autoimmune disorders, revealing that B cells play a critical anti-inflammatory role mediated by IL-10 release. We therefore investigated the human B cell regulatory subset producing IL-10 in response to stimulation.
Highly purified B cells were obtained from tonsils by using a multiple-step separation procedure which included rosette depletion, adherence depletion, CD3+ cell magnetic-activated depletion and CD19+ magnetic-activated positive cell selection. CD20+ purity was verified by flow cytometry. The CD19+CD20+ B cells were stimulated with CpG oligonucleotide, IL-4, IFN-gamma, anti-CD40, IL-17A and IL-17F, either alone or in combination. The expression of both IL-6 and IL-10 mRNA was analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR and by ELISA. B regulatory cell subsets expressing IL-10 and the markers CD5 and CD1d were quantified by FACS analysis. B cell proliferation was determined by 3H thymidine incorporation or CFSE labeling.
Expression of IL-10 mRNA and protein in purified B cells from tonsils was weakly stimulated by anti-CD40 antibody, CpG oligonucleotide or with IL-17. When B cells were simultaneously stimulated with IL-17, anti-CD40 antibody and CpG oligonucleotide, the mRNA and protein expression of IL-10 was strongly increased (n = 3; P ≤ 0.001). B cells proliferation was also significantly increased. In contrast, stimulation with IL-4 alone or in combination with anti-CD40 antibody, decreased the expression of IL-10 (n = 3; P ≤ 0.001).
TLR9 receptor stimulation synergizes with CD40 and IL-17 receptors stimulation in the induced proliferation and potent release of IL-10 cytokine while decreasing IL-6 production in B cells. These novel findings provide evidence that B lymphocytes might be an important source of the anti-inflammatory IL-10 cytokine, and provide novel evidence that stimulation of B lymphocytes with IL-17 cytokine could be an important regulatory mechanism in immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3512855
15.  127 Eosinophils Enhance Airway Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation Via the Release of Cysteinyl Leukotrines 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S59-S60.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lung airways that is associated with airway remodeling and hyperresponsiveness. Its is well documented that the smooth muscle mass in asthmatic airways is increased due to hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the ASM cells. Moreover, eosinophils have been proposed in different studies to play a major role in airway remodeling. Here, we hypothesized that eosinophils modulate the airways through enhancing ASM cell proliferation. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of eosinophils on ASM cell proliferation using eosinophils isolated from asthmatic and normal control subjects.
Eosinophils were isolated from peripheral blood of 6 mild asthmatics and 6 normal control subjects. ASM cells were incubated with eosinophils or eosinophil membranes and ASM proliferation was estimated using thymidine incorporation. The mRNA expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) in ASM cells was measured using quantitative real-time PCR. The effect of eosinophil-derived proliferative cytokines on ASM cells was determined using neutralizing antibodies. The role of eosinophil derived Cysteinyl Leukotrienes in enhancing ASM was also investigated.
Co-culture with eosinophils significantly increased ASM cell proliferation. However, there was no significant difference in ASM proliferation following incubation with eosinophils from asthmatic versus normal control subjects. Co-culture with eosinophil membranes had no effect on ASM proliferation. Moreover, there was no significant change in the mRNA expression of ECM proteins in ASM cells following co-culture with eosinophils when compared with medium alone. Interestingly, blocking the activity of cysteinyl Leukotries using antagonists inhibited eosinophil-derived ASM proliferation.
Eosinophils enhances the proliferation of ASM cells. This role of eosinophil does not seem to depend on ASM derived ECM proteins nor on Eosinophil derived TGF-β or TNF-α. Eosinophil seems to induce ASM proliferation via the secretion of Cysteinyl Leukotrienes.
PMCID: PMC3513122
16.  Cigarette smoke increases TLR4 and TLR9 expression and induces cytokine production from CD8+ T cells in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):149.
Cigarette smoke is a major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory lung disorder. COPD is characterized by an increase in CD8+ T cells within the central and peripheral airways. We hypothesized that the CD8+ T cells in COPD patients have increased Toll-like receptor (TLR) expression compared to control subjects due to the exposure of cigarette smoke in the airways.
Endobronchial biopsies and peripheral blood were obtained from COPD patients and control subjects. TLR4 and TLR9 expression was assessed by immunostaining of lung tissue and flow cytometry of the peripheral blood. CD8+ T cells isolated from peripheral blood were treated with or without cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) as well as TLR4 and TLR9 inhibitors. PCR and western blotting were used to determine TLR4 and TLR9 expression, while cytokine secretion from these cells was detected using electrochemiluminescence technology.
No difference was observed in the overall expression of TLR4 and TLR9 in the lung tissue and peripheral blood of COPD patients compared to control subjects. However, COPD patients had increased TLR4 and TLR9 expression on lung CD8+ T cells. Exposure of CD8+ T cells to CSC resulted in an increase of TLR4 and TLR9 protein expression. CSC exposure also caused the activation of CD8+ T cells, resulting in the production of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12p70, TNFα and IFNγ. Furthermore, inhibition of TLR4 or TLR9 significantly attenuated the production of TNFα and IL-10.
Our results demonstrate increased expression of TLR4 and TLR9 on lung CD8+ T cells in COPD. CD8+ T cells exposed to CSC increased TLR4 and TLR9 levels and increased cytokine production. These results provide a new perspective on the role of CD8+ T cells in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3260101  PMID: 22070100
COPD; Toll-like receptors; CD8+ T cell; cigarette smoke; cytokine
17.  Airway remodelling in asthma: From benchside to clinical practice 
Airway remodelling refers to the structural changes that occur in both large and small airways relevant to miscellaneous diseases including asthma. In asthma, airway structural changes include subepithelial fibrosis, increased smooth muscle mass, gland enlargement, neovascularization and epithelial alterations. Although controversial, airway remodelling is commonly attributed to an underlying chronic inflammatory process. These remodelling changes contribute to thickening of airway walls and, consequently, lead to airway narrowing, bronchial hyper-responsiveness, airway edema and mucous hypersecretion. Airway remodelling is associated with poor clinical outcomes among asthmatic patients. Early diagnosis and prevention of airway remodelling has the potential to decrease disease severity, improve control and prevent disease expression. The relationship between structural changes and clinical and functional abnormalities clearly deserves further investigation. The present review briefly describes the characteristic features of airway remodelling observed in asthma, its clinical consequences and relevance for physicians, and its modulation by therapeutic approaches used in the treatment of asthmatic patients.
PMCID: PMC2933777  PMID: 20808979
Allergy; Asthma; Remodelling; Rhinitis
18.  CD8 positive T cells express IL-17 in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):43.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive and irreversible chronic inflammatory disease of the lung. The nature of the immune reaction in COPD raises the possibility that IL-17 and related cytokines may contribute to this disorder. This study analyzed the expression of IL-17A and IL-17F as well as the phenotype of cells producing them in bronchial biopsies from COPD patients.
Bronchoscopic biopsies of the airway were obtained from 16 COPD subjects (GOLD stage 1-4) and 15 control subjects. Paraffin sections were used for the investigation of IL-17A and IL-17F expression in the airways by immunohistochemistry, and frozen sections were used for the immunofluorescence double staining of IL-17A or IL-17F paired with CD4 or CD8. In order to confirm the expression of IL-17A and IL-17F at the mRNA level, a quantitative RT-PCR was performed on the total mRNA extracted from entire section or CD8 positive cells selected by laser capture microdissection.
IL-17F immunoreactivity was significantly higher in the bronchial biopsies of COPD patients compared to control subjects (P < 0.0001). In the submucosa, the absolute number of both IL-17A and IL-17F positive cells was higher in COPD patients (P < 0.0001). After adjusting for the total number of cells in the submucosa, we still found that more cells were positive for both IL-17A (P < 0.0001) and IL-17F (P < 0.0001) in COPD patients compared to controls. The mRNA expression of IL-17A and IL-17F in airways of COPD patients was confirmed by RT-PCR. The expression of IL-17A and IL-17F was co-localized with not only CD4 but also CD8, which was further confirmed by RT-PCR on laser capture microdissection selected CD8 positive cells.
These findings support the notion that Th17 cytokines could play important roles in the pathogenesis of COPD, raising the possibility of using this mechanism as the basis for novel therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3082241  PMID: 21477350
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; IL-17; Tc17 cells
19.  Effect of salmeterol/fluticasone propionate on airway inflammation in COPD: a randomised controlled trial 
Thorax  2007;62(11):938-943.
Airway inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterised by infiltration of CD8+ T cells and CD68+ macrophages and an increased number of neutrophils, whereas few studies have described the presence of eosinophils. Although the anti‐inflammatory effects of corticosteroids in stable COPD are unclear, recent studies suggest that combination therapy could be beneficial. A study was therefore undertaken to evaluate combined salmeterol/fluticasone propionate (SFC) and fluticasone propionate (FP) alone on inflammatory cells in the airways of patients with COPD.
Patients were treated in a randomised, double blind, parallel group, placebo‐controlled trial with either a combination of 50 µg salmeterol and 500 µg FP twice daily (SFC, n = 19, 19 men, mean age 62 years), 500 µg FP twice daily (n = 20, 15 men, mean age 64 years) or placebo (n = 21, 17 men, mean age 66 years) for 3 months. At the start and end of treatment bronchoscopy with bronchial biopsies was performed and the numbers of CD8+ T lymphocytes, CD68+ macrophages, neutrophils and eosinophils were measured.
CD8+ cells were significantly reduced by SFC compared with placebo (difference −98.05 cells/mm2; 95% CI −143.14 to −52.9; p<0.001). Such a marked effect was not seen with FP alone (−44.67 cells/mm2; 95% CI −90.92 to 1.57; p = 0.06). CD68+ macrophages were also reduced by SFC compared with placebo (difference −31.68 cells/mm2; 95% CI −61.07 to −2.29; p = 0.03) but not by FP. SFC did not significantly change neutrophils and eosinophils compared with placebo.
SFC has airway anti‐inflammatory effects not seen with inhaled corticosteroids alone.
PMCID: PMC2117108  PMID: 17557771
20.  Myosin, Transgelin, and Myosin Light Chain Kinase 
Rationale: Airway smooth muscle (SM) of patients with asthma exhibits a greater velocity of shortening (Vmax) than that of normal subjects, and this is thought to contribute to airway hyperresponsiveness. A greater Vmax can result from increased myosin activation. This has been reported in sensitized human airway SM and in models of asthma. A faster Vmax can also result from the expression of specific contractile proteins that promote faster cross-bridge cycling. This possibility has never been addressed in asthma.
Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that the expression of genes coding for SM contractile proteins is altered in asthmatic airways and contributes to their increased Vmax.
Methods: We quantified the expression of several genes that code for SM contractile proteins in mild allergic asthmatic and control human airway endobronchial biopsies. The function of these contractile proteins was tested using the in vitro motility assay.
Measurements and Main Results: We observed an increased expression of the fast myosin heavy chain isoform, transgelin, and myosin light chain kinase in patients with asthma. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated the expression of these genes at the protein level. To address the functional significance of this overexpression, we purified tracheal myosin from the hyperresponsive Fisher rats, which also overexpress the fast myosin heavy chain isoform as compared with the normoresponsive Lewis rats, and found a faster rate of actin filament propulsion. Conversely, transgelin did not alter the rate of actin filament propulsion.
Conclusions: Selective overexpression of airway smooth muscle genes in asthmatic airways leads to increased Vmax, thus contributing to the airway hyperresponsiveness observed in asthma.
PMCID: PMC2633053  PMID: 19011151
asthma; airway hyperresponsiveness; gene expression; smooth muscle; myosin
21.  Quality of bronchial biopsies for morphology study and cell sampling: A comparison of asthmatic and healthy subjects 
Bronchial biopsies are widely used for histopathological, primary cell culture and genetic studies, but very few reports have evaluated their quality.
The present project evaluated the quality (using a scoring system) and the general morphology of a pool of six bronchial biopsy specimens taken from three different sampling sites (the lobar, segmental and subsegmental carinae) in 27 subjects (13 asthmatic subjects and 14 healthy controls). The present study also assessed quantitative measurements of structural changes related to asthma.
In total, 94.4% of the biopsy attempts had enough tissue to be processed. From these, 61.7% were scored with a good to excellent quality, while 76.5% presented smooth muscle bundles and 40.5% had an intact epithelium wall. The data also confirmed the structural changes observed in asthma, such as increased apparent thickening of the basement membrane, reduced amounts of smooth muscle for healthy controls and decreased percentage of intact epithelium for asthmatic subjects.
A pool of six bronchial biopsy specimens can provide tissue of excellent quality in both asthmatic and healthy subjects and, consequently, a valuable sample for morphological analysis of mucosal structures.
PMCID: PMC2682166  PMID: 19107244
Asthma; Bronchial biopsies; Morphology; Quality; Smooth muscle content
22.  Macrophage Inflammatory Protein 3 alpha (MIP-3α) Deficiency in AD Skin and Role in Innate Immune Response to Vaccinia Virus 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) patients are prone to disseminated viral skin infections and therefore are not vaccinated against smallpox due to potential complications. Macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-3α is a C-C chemokine expressed by keratinocytes that exhibits anti-microbial activity against bacteria and fungi; however its role in anti-viral innate immunity is unknown.
Evaluate the level of MIP-3α in AD skin and its role in the innate immune response to vaccinia virus (VV).
MIP-3α levels were evaluated using real-time RT-PCR, immunodot-blot, and immunohistochemistry. The anti-viral activity of MIP-3α was determined using a standard viral plaque assay.
MIP-3α gene expression was significantly (p<0.01) decreased in AD skin (0.21 ± 0.05 ng MIP-3α/ng GAPDH) compared to psoriasis skin (0.67 ± 0.13). This was confirmed at the protein level using immunohistochemistry. We further demonstrate that Th2 cytokines down-regulate MIP-3α expression. The importance of MIP-3α in the innate immune response against VV was established by first demonstrating that MIP-3α exhibits activity against VV. Secondly, VV replication was significantly increased (p<0.01) in keratinocytes treated with an antibody to neutralize MIP-3α.
The current study demonstrates that MIP-3α exhibits anti-viral activity against VV and the importance of MIP-3α in the innate immune response against VV. Additionally, AD skin is deficient in MIP-3α, due, in part, to the over-expression of Th2 cytokines in AD skin.
Clinical Implications
MIP-3α deficiency in AD skin contributes to their increased propensity towards eczema vaccinatum. Increasing MIP-3α or neutralizing Th2 cytokines could prevent adverse reactions in AD patients following smallpox vaccination.
PMCID: PMC2746067  PMID: 17141855
Atopic dermatitis; chemokines; innate immunity; vaccinia virus; anti-microbial peptides
23.  Mucin overproduction in chronic inflammatory lung disease 
Mucus overproduction and hypersecretion are commonly observed in chronic inflammatory lung disease. Mucins are gel-forming glycoproteins that can be stimulated by a variety of mediators. The present review addresses the mechanisms involved in the upregulation of secreted mucins. Mucin induction by neutrophil elastase, bacteria, cytokines, growth factors, smoke and cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator malfunction are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC2683320  PMID: 16983448
Bacteria; Cytokine; Lung; Mucin; Neutrophil elastase; Overproduction; Smoke
24.  Up-Regulation of Interleukin-9 and the Interleukin-9-Associated Calcium-Activated Chloride Channel hCLCA1 in Nasal Mucosa Following In Vivo Allergen Challenge 
Interleukin (IL)-9 is a pleiotropic T helper 2-type cytokine that has been shown to be up-regulated in allergic airway disease, including asthma. IL-9 has been demonstrated to be a potent stimulus for the production and secretion of mucus from airway epithelial cells via induction of a calcium-activated chloride channel, hCLCA1. The objective of this study was to investigate the expression of IL-9 and hCLCA1 following allergen challenge in the nasal mucosa of allergic rhinitis patients. Nasal biopsies were obtained from allergic rhinitis patients out of allergen season both before (baseline) and after local antigen challenge with either ragweed or diluent (control). Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization were used to assess IL-9 protein and hCLCA1 messenger ribonucleic acid. Eosinophils and T cells were detected using immunohistochemistry. IL-9 and hCLCA1 were very low at baseline, and expression was significantly up-regulated following ragweed challenge. Whereas the number of eosinophils increased after allergen challenge, T-cell counts did not change significantly. The results of this study demonstrate the relationship between specific allergen challenge and expression of both IL-9 and hCLCA1, suggesting a possible mechanism for the increased production of mucus from airway epithelial cells in allergic rhinitis.
PMCID: PMC2873628  PMID: 20525149
25.  Effects of hydrofluoroalkane and dry powder-formulated corticosteroids on sputum inflammatory markers in asthmatic patients 
Inhaled corticosteroids are powerful drugs that can suppress airway inflammation in asthmatic patients. Deposition of most of the inhaled corticosteroid occurs mainly in the central airways. However, a new hydrofluoroalkane formulation of beclomethasone dipropionate (HFA-BDP) is preferentially deposited in the distal airways. Inflammatory characteristics of induced sputum have been shown to differ in samples collected early after sputum induction compared with later.
To compare the effects of HFA-BDP and budesonide in a dry powder inhaler (DPI-BUD) on inflammatory cells and inflammatory cytokine expression in early and late induced sputa compared with placebo.
Seventeen patients with mild, intermittent bronchial asthma were randomly assigned to two treatment groups: eight patients received HFA-BDP and nine patients received DPI-BUD. Each patient was treated with one of the active treatments and placebo (for four weeks), with a two-week washout interval in between. Inflammatory cells and expression of interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 were measured in early and late induced sputa before and after active treatment, as well as before and after placebo treatment using immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization.
Compared with placebo, eosinophils were significantly reduced in both early and late induced sputa after HFA-BDP treatment (P<0.05), whereas DPI-BUD had a significant effect only on early induced sputum. Both HFA-BDP and DPI-BUD decreased IL-4 expression in early and late induced sputa, but the effect was more prominent with HFA-BDP. IL-5 expression was reduced in both early and late induced sputa after HFA-BDP treatment. DPI-BUD significantly decreased IL-5 expression in early but not in late induced sputum. The number of lymphocytes was not altered by either treatment.
HFA-BDP reduced eosinophilic inflammation and T helper 2-type cytokine expression in both early and late induced sputa, whereas the effect of DPI-BUD on inflammation was predominantly demonstrated in early induced sputum.
PMCID: PMC2539014  PMID: 16550263
Beclomethasone dipropionate; Bronchial asthma; Budesonide; Eosinophils; Hydrofluoroalkane; Induced sputum

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