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1.  Standardizing Scavenger Receptor Nomenclature 
Scavenger receptors constitute a large family of proteins that are structurally diverse and participate in a wide range of biological functions. These receptors are expressed predominantly by myeloid cells and recognize a variety of ligands, including endogenous and modified host-derived molecules and microbial pathogens. There are currently eight classes of scavenger receptors, many of which have multiple names, leading to inconsistencies and confusion in the literature. To address this problem, a workshop was organized by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health to help develop a clear definition of scavenger receptors and a standardized nomenclature based on that definition. Fifteen experts in the scavenger receptor field attended the workshop and, after extensive discussion, reached a consensus regarding the definition of scavenger receptors and a proposed scavenger receptor nomenclature. Scavenger receptors were defined as cell surface receptors that typically bind multiple ligands and promote the removal of non-self or altered-self targets. They often function by mechanisms that include endocytosis, phagocytosis, adhesion, and signaling that ultimately lead to the elimination of degraded or harmful substances. Based on this definition, nomenclature and classification of these receptors into 10 classes were proposed. The discussion and nomenclature recommendations described in this report only refer to mammalian scavenger receptors. The purpose of this article is to describe the proposed mammalian nomenclature and classification developed at the workshop and to solicit additional feedback from the broader research community.
PMCID: PMC4238968  PMID: 24563502
2.  Female resistance to pneumonia identifies lung macrophage nitric oxide synthase-3 as a therapeutic target 
eLife  2014;3:e03711.
To identify new approaches to enhance innate immunity to bacterial pneumonia, we investigated the natural experiment of gender differences in resistance to infections. Female and estrogen-treated male mice show greater resistance to pneumococcal pneumonia, seen as greater bacterial clearance, diminished lung inflammation, and better survival. In vitro, lung macrophages from female mice and humans show better killing of ingested bacteria. Inhibitors and genetically altered mice identify a critical role for estrogen-mediated activation of lung macrophage nitric oxide synthase-3 (NOS3). Epidemiologic data show decreased hospitalization for pneumonia in women receiving estrogen or statins (known to activate NOS3). Pharmacologic targeting of NOS3 with statins or another small-molecule compound (AVE3085) enhanced macrophage bacterial killing, improved bacterial clearance, and increased host survival in both primary and secondary (post-influenza) pneumonia. The data identify a novel mechanism for host defense via NOS3 and suggest a potential therapeutic strategy to reduce secondary bacterial pneumonia after influenza.
eLife digest
Pneumonia is a disease that is commonly caused by a bacterial infection and results in the lungs becoming inflamed. Pneumonia is a serious condition and can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. However, women—and other female animals—are less likely than males to get pneumonia and are more likely to survive if they do. Understanding this sex-based difference may help to develop treatments or preventive actions that either reduce the number of people who get pneumonia or help infected patients to recover.
Bacteria from the nose—including those that cause pneumonia—frequently enter the lungs during sleep. Luckily, the body has very robust defense mechanisms against such invasions; the immune system immediately deploys cells called macrophages as a ‘first response’ to devour and kill invading bacteria in the lungs. However, this system is not perfect, particularly if an individual has a weakened immune system or if they are already suffering with a respiratory infection. Indeed, many individuals with severe influenza infections are hospitalized as a result of pneumonia.
Yang et al. studied why females are more able to fend off pneumonia and found that estrogen, the main female sex hormone, boosts the ability of the macrophages to kill bacteria. Treating male mice with estrogen also boosted their immune system's ability to kill off bacteria in the lungs.
Investigating further, Yang et al. found that the estrogen worked by increasing the number of proteins produced from one gene called NOS3. Female mice lacking NOS3 proteins lost their pneumonia-fighting advantage. A widely used class of drugs called statins, which are used to treat cardiovascular disease, boosts the activity of the NOS3 gene. Yang et al. therefore wondered whether treatment with either estrogen or statins might prevent pneumonia, or help patients with pneumonia fight off the infection.
Using a large database of information about healthcare in Denmark, Yang et al. assessed the relationship between taking these drugs and the risk of pneumonia. When several confounding factors (such as unrelated diseases that the patient was suffering from) are taken into account, the data show that the women were less likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia if they were taking statins or estrogens. Those taking both treatments had an even lower risk.
Yang et al. also found that treating mice with statins or an experimental drug that boosts NOS3 activity increased the ability of the animals to fight off pneumonia-causing bacteria—even if they also had influenza—and increased the likelihood that mice already infected with pneumonia would survive. Further studies will be needed to determine if statins or the experimental drug might also help to prevent pneumonia in human patients with influenza.
PMCID: PMC4215537  PMID: 25317947
macrophages; innate immunity; pneumonia; nitric oxide; bacteria; gender; human; mouse
3.  The Scavenger Receptor MARCO Modulates TLR-Induced Responses in Dendritic Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104148.
The scavenger receptor MARCO mediates macrophage recognition and clearance of pathogens and their polyanionic ligands. However, recent studies demonstrate MARCO expression and function in dendritic cells, suggesting MARCO might serve to bridge innate and adaptive immunity. To gain additional insight into the role of MARCO in dendritic cell activation and function, we profiled transcriptomes of mouse splenic dendritic cells obtained from MARCO deficient mice and their wild type counterparts under resting and activating conditions. In silico analysis uncovered major alterations in gene expression in MARCO deficient dendritic cells resulting in dramatic alterations in key dendritic cell-specific pathways and functions. Specifically, changes in CD209, FCGR4 and Complement factors can have major consequences on DC-mediated innate responses. Notably, these perturbations were magnified following activation with the TLR-4 agonist lipopolysaccharide. To validate our in silico data, we challenged DC‘s with various agonists that recognize all mouse TLRs and assessed expression of a set of immune and inflammatory marker genes. This approach identified a differential contribution of MARCO to TLR activation and validated a major role for MARCO in mounting an inflammatory response. Together, our data demonstrate that MARCO differentially affects TLR-induced DC activation and suggest targeting of MARCO could lead to different outcomes that depend on the inflammatory context encountered by DC.
PMCID: PMC4121322  PMID: 25089703
4.  Role of MARCO in Innate Immune Tolerance 
Macrophages play a key role in host defense against microbes, in part, through phagocytosis. MARCO (macrophage receptor with collagenous structure) is a scavenger receptor on the cell surface of macrophages that mediates opsonin-independent phagocytosis. The goal of our study is to investigate the role of MARCO in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or lipotechoic acid (LTA)-induced macrophage tolerance. While it has been established that expression of MARCO and phagocytosis is increased in tolerant macrophages, the transcriptional regulation and biological role of MARCO in tolerant macrophages has not been investigated. Here, we confirm that tolerized mouse bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDM) selectively increase expression of MARCO (both transcript and cell surface receptor) and increase phagocytosis. We found that H3K4me3 dynamic modification of a promoter site of MARCO was increased in tolerized BMDM. Blocking methylation by treatment with 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine (5-AZA) resulted in reduced H3K4me3 binding in the promoter of MARCO, decreased expression of MARCO, and impaired phagocytosis in tolerized BMDM. However, 5-AZA had no effect on the inflammatory component of innate immune tolerance. In aggregate, we found that histone methylation was critical to MARCO expression and phagocytosis in tolerized macrophages but did not affect the inflammatory component of innate immune tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3679202  PMID: 23667110
Phagocytosis; MARCO; Macrophage tolerance; Chromatin modification
5.  Adam8 Limits the Development of Allergic Airway Inflammation in Mice 
To determine whether a disintegrin and a metalloproteinase-8 (Adam8) regulates allergic airway inflammation (AAI) and airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), we compared AAI and AHR in wild type (WT) versus Adam8−/− mice in different genetic backgrounds sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) or house dust mite protein extract (HDM). OVA- and HDM-treated Adam8−/− mice had higher lung leukocyte counts, more airway mucus metaplasia, greater lung levels of some TH2 cytokines, and higher methacholine-induced increases in central airway resistance than allergen-treated WT mice. Studies of OVA-treated Adam8 bone marrow chimeric mice confirmed that leukocyte-derived Adam8 predominantly mediated Adam8’s anti-inflammatory activities in murine airways. Airway eosinophils and macrophages both expressed Adam8 in WT mice with AAI. Adam8 limited AAI and AHR in mice by reducing leukocyte survival because: 1) Adam8−/− mice with AAI had fewer apoptotic eosinophils and macrophages in their airways than WT mice with AAI; and 2) Adam8−/− macrophages and eosinophils had reduced rates of apoptosis compared with WT leukocytes when the intrinsic (but not the extrinsic) apoptosis pathway was triggered in the cells in vitro. ADAM8 was robustly expressed by airway granulocytes in lung sections from human asthma patients but, surprisingly, airway macrophages had less ADAM8 staining than airway eosinophils. Thus, ADAM8 has anti-inflammatory activities during AAI in mice by activating the intrinsic apoptosis pathway in myeloid leukocytes. Strategies that increase ADAM8 levels in myeloid leukocytes may have therapeutic efficacy in asthma.
PMCID: PMC3679335  PMID: 23670189
6.  Prenatal Maternal Stress Predicts Childhood Asthma in Girls: Project Ice Storm 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:201717.
Little is known about how prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) influences risks of asthma in humans. In this small study, we sought to determine whether disaster-related PNMS would predict asthma risk in children. In June 1998, we assessed severity of objective hardship and subjective distress in women pregnant during the January 1998 Quebec Ice Storm. Lifetime asthma symptoms, diagnoses, and corticosteroid utilization were assessed when the children were 12 years old (N = 68). No effects of objective hardship or timing of the exposure were found. However, we found that, in girls only, higher levels of prenatal maternal subjective distress predicted greater lifetime risk of wheezing (OR = 1.11; 90% CI = 1.01–1.23), doctor-diagnosed asthma (OR = 1.09; 90% CI = 1.00–1.19), and lifetime utilization of corticosteroids (OR = 1.12; 90% CI = 1.01–1.25). Other perinatal and current maternal life events were also associated with asthma outcomes. Findings suggest that stress during pregnancy opens a window for fetal programming of immune functioning. A sex-based approach may be useful to examine how prenatal and postnatal environments combine to program the immune system. This small study needs to be replicated with a larger, more representative sample.
PMCID: PMC4034394  PMID: 24895550
7.  Pro-fibrotic Activities for Matrix Metalloproteinase-8 During Bleomycin-mediated Lung Injury1 
Matrix metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8) is a potent interstitial collagenase thought to be expressed mainly by PMNs. To determine whether Mmp-8 regulates lung inflammatory or fibrotic responses to bleomycin, we delivered bleomycin by the intratracheal (IT) route to wild type (WT) vs. Mmp-8−/− mice and quantified Mmp-8 expression, and inflammation and fibrosis in the lung samples. Mmp-8 steady-state mRNA and protein levels increase in whole lung and bronchoalveolar lavage samples when WT mice are treated with bleomycin. Activated murine lung fibroblasts express Mmp-8 in vitro. MMP-8 expression is increased in leukocytes in the lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis compared with control lung samples. Compared with bleomycin-treated WT mice, bleomycin-treated Mmp-8−/− mice have greater lung inflammation, but reduced lung fibrosis. While bleomycin-treated Mmp-8−/− and WT mice have similar lung levels of several pro- and anti-fibrotic mediators (Tgf-β, Il-13, JE, and Ifn-γ), Mmp-8−/− mice have higher lung levels of Ip-10 and Mip-1α. Genetically deleting either Ip-10 or Mip-1α in Mmp-8−/− mice abrogates their lung inflammatory response to bleomycin but reconstitutes their lung fibrotic response to bleomycin. Studies of bleomycin-treated Mmp-8 bone marrow-chimeric mice show that both leukocytes and lung parenchymal cells are sources of pro-fibrotic Mmp-8 during bleomycin-mediated lung fibrosis. Thus, during bleomycin-mediated lung injury, Mmp-8 dampens the lung acute inflammatory response but promotes lung fibrosis by reducing lung levels of Ip-10 and Mip-1α. These data indicate therapeutic strategies to reduce lung levels of MMP-8 may limit fibroproliferative responses to injury in the human lung.
PMCID: PMC3639121  PMID: 23487425
MMP-8; fibrosis; inflammation; IP-10; interferon-gamma; mice; bleomycin
8.  Targeted Deletion of Nrf2 Impairs Lung Development and Oxidant Injury in Neonatal Mice 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2012;17(8):1066-1082.
Aims: Nrf2 is an essential transcription factor for protection against oxidant disorders. However, its role in organ development and neonatal disease has received little attention. Therapeutically administered oxygen has been considered to contribute to bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in prematurity. The current study was performed to determine Nrf2-mediated molecular events during saccular-to-alveolar lung maturation, and the role of Nrf2 in the pathogenesis of hyperoxic lung injury using newborn Nrf2-deficient (Nrf2−/−) and wild-type (Nrf2+/+) mice. Results: Pulmonary basal expression of cell cycle, redox balance, and lipid/carbohydrate metabolism genes was lower while lymphocyte immunity genes were more highly expressed in Nrf2−/− neonates than in Nrf2+/+ neonates. Hyperoxia-induced phenotypes, including mortality, arrest of saccular-to-alveolar transition, and lung edema, and inflammation accompanying DNA damage and tissue oxidation were significantly more severe in Nrf2−/− neonates than in Nrf2+/+ neonates. During lung injury pathogenesis, Nrf2 orchestrated expression of lung genes involved in organ injury and morphology, cellular growth/proliferation, vasculature development, immune response, and cell–cell interaction. Bioinformatic identification of Nrf2 binding motifs and augmented hyperoxia-induced inflammation in genetically deficient neonates supported Gpx2 and Marco as Nrf2 effectors. Innovation: This investigation used lung transcriptomics and gene targeted mice to identify novel molecular events during saccular-to-alveolar stage transition and to elucidate Nrf2 downstream mechanisms in protection from hyperoxia-induced injury in neonate mouse lungs. Conclusion: Nrf2 deficiency augmented lung injury and arrest of alveolarization caused by hyperoxia during the newborn period. Results suggest a therapeutic potential of specific Nrf2 activators for oxidative stress-associated neonatal disorders including BPD. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 00, 000–000.
PMCID: PMC3423869  PMID: 22400915
9.  Link between Epigenomic Alterations and Genome-Wide Aberrant Transcriptional Response to Allergen in Dendritic Cells Conveying Maternal Asthma Risk 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70387.
We investigated the link between epigenome-wide methylation aberrations at birth and genomic transcriptional changes upon allergen sensitization that occur in the neonatal dendritic cells (DC) due to maternal asthma. We previously demonstrated that neonates of asthmatic mothers are born with a functional skew in splenic DCs that can be seen even in allergen-naïve pups and can convey allergy responses to normal recipients. However, minimal-to-no transcriptional or phenotypic changes were found to explain this alteration. Here we provide in-depth analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation profiles and RNA transcriptional (microarray) profiles before and after allergen sensitization. We identified differentially methylated and differentially expressed loci and performed manually-curated matching of methylation status of the key regulatory sequences (promoters and CpG islands) to expression of their respective transcripts before and after sensitization. We found that while allergen-naive DCs from asthma-at-risk neonates have minimal transcriptional change compared to controls, the methylation changes are extensive. The substantial transcriptional change only becomes evident upon allergen sensitization, when it occurs in multiple genes with the pre-existing epigenetic alterations. We demonstrate that maternal asthma leads to both hyper- and hypomethylation in neonatal DCs, and that both types of events at various loci significantly overlap with transcriptional responses to allergen. Pathway analysis indicates that approximately 1/2 of differentially expressed and differentially methylated genes directly interact in known networks involved in allergy and asthma processes. We conclude that congenital epigenetic changes in DCs are strongly linked to altered transcriptional responses to allergen and to early-life asthma origin. The findings are consistent with the emerging paradigm that asthma is a disease with underlying epigenetic changes.
PMCID: PMC3741290  PMID: 23950928
10.  TRIF Mediates Toll-Like Receptor 2-Dependent Inflammatory Responses to Borrelia burgdorferi 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(2):402-410.
TRIF is an adaptor molecule important in transducing signals from intracellularly signaling Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and TLR4. Recently, TLR2 was found to signal from intracellular compartments. Using a synthetic ligand for TLR2/1 heterodimers, as well as Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a strong activator of TLR2/1, we found that TLR2 signaling can utilize TRIF. Unlike TRIF signaling by other TLRs, TLR2-mediated TRIF signaling is dependent on the presence of another adaptor molecule, MyD88. However, unlike MyD88 deficiency, TRIF deficiency does not result in diminished control of infection with B. burgdorferi in a murine model of disease. This appears to be due to the effects of MyD88 on phagocytosis via scavenger receptors, such as MARCO, which are not affected by the loss of TRIF. In mice, TRIF deficiency did have an effect on the production of inflammatory cytokines, suggesting that regulation of inflammatory cytokines and control of bacterial growth may be uncoupled, in part through transduction of TLR2 signaling through TRIF.
PMCID: PMC3553797  PMID: 23166161
11.  HSV-1 exploits the innate immune scavenger receptor MARCO to enhance epithelial adsorption and infection 
Nature communications  2013;4:1963.
HSV-1 is an important epithelial pathogen and has the potential for significant morbidity in humans. Here we demonstrate that a cell surface scavenger receptor, macrophage receptor with collagenous structure (MARCO), previously thought to enhance antiviral defense by enabling nucleic acid recognition, is usurped by HSV-1 and functions together with heparan sulfate proteoglycans to mediate adsorption to epithelial cells. Ligands of MARCO dramatically inhibit HSV-1 adsorption and infection of human keratinocytes and protect mice against infection. HSV-1 glycoprotein C (gC) closely co-localizes with MARCO at the cell surface, and gC binds directly to purified MARCO with high affinity. Increasing MARCO expression enhances HSV-1 infection while MARCO-/- mice have reduced susceptibility to infection by HSV-1. These findings demonstrate that HSV-1 binds to MARCO to enhance its capacity for disease, and suggests a new therapeutic target to alter pathogenicity of HSV-1 in skin infection.
PMCID: PMC3681428  PMID: 23739639
12.  Role of the Adiponectin Binding Protein, T-Cadherin (cdh13), in Pulmonary Responses to Subacute Ozone 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65829.
Adiponectin, an adipose derived hormone with pleiotropic functions, binds to several proteins, including T-cadherin. We have previously reported that adiponectin deficient (Adipo−/−) mice have increased IL-17A-dependent neutrophil accumulation in their lungs after subacute exposure to ozone (0.3 ppm for 72 hrs). The purpose of this study was to determine whether this anti-inflammatory effect of adiponectin required adiponectin binding to T-cadherin. Wildtype, Adipo−/−, T-cadherin deficient (T-cad−/−), and bideficient (Adipo−/−/T-cad−/−) mice were exposed to subacute ozone or air. Compared to wildtype mice, ozone-induced increases in pulmonary IL-17A mRNA expression were augmented in T-cad−/− and Adipo−/− mice. Compared to T-cad−/− mice, there was no further increase in IL-17A in Adipo−/−/T-cad−/− mice, indicating that adiponectin binding to T-cadherin is required for suppression of ozone-induced IL-17A expression. Similar results were obtained for pulmonary mRNA expression of saa3, an acute phase protein capable of inducing IL-17A expression. Comparison of lung histological sections across genotypes also indicated that adiponectin attenuation of ozone-induced inflammatory lesions at bronchiolar branch points required T-cadherin. BAL neutrophils and G-CSF were augmented in T-cad−/− mice and further augmented in Adipo−/−/T-cad−/− mice. Taken together with previous observations indicating that augmentation of these moieties in ozone exposed Adipo−/− mice is partially IL-17A dependent, the results indicate that effects of T-cadherin deficiency on BAL neutrophils and G-CSF are likely secondary to changes in IL-17A, but that adiponectin also acts via T-cadherin independent pathways. Our results indicate that T-cadherin is required for the ability of adiponectin to suppress some but not all aspects of ozone-induced pulmonary inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3675043  PMID: 23755285
13.  MARCO Regulates Early Inflammatory Responses against Influenza 
Lung macrophages use the scavenger receptor MARCO to bind and ingest bacteria, particulate matter, and post cellular debris. We investigated the role of MARCO in influenza A virus (IAV) pneumonia. In contrast to higher susceptibility to bacterial infection, MARCO−/− mice had lower morbidity and mortality from influenza pneumonia than wild-type (WT) mice. The early course of influenza in MARCO−/− lungs was marked by an enhanced but transient neutrophilic inflammatory response and significantly lower viral replication compared with the WT mice. At later time points, no significant differences in lung histopathology or absolute numbers of T lymphocyte influx were evident. Uptake of IAV by WT and MARCO−/− bronchoalveolar lavage macrophages in vitro was similar. By LPS coadministration, we demonstrated that rapid neutrophil and monocyte influx during the onset of influenza suppressed viral replication, indicating a protective role of early inflammation. We hypothesized that the presence of increased basal proinflammatory post cellular debris in the absence of scavenging function lowered the inflammatory response threshold to IAV in MARCO−/− mice. Indeed, MARCO−/− mice showed increased accumulation of proinflammatory oxidized lipoproteins in the bronchoalveolar lavage early in the infection process, which are the potential mediators of the observed enhanced inflammation. These results indicate that MARCO suppresses a protective early inflammatory response to influenza, which modulates viral clearance and delays recovery.
PMCID: PMC3262690  PMID: 21562316
inflammation; scavenger receptors; leukocytes; chemokines; pathology; oxidized lipoproteins
14.  MicroRNA-181b regulates NF-κB–mediated vascular inflammation 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(6):1973-1990.
EC activation and dysfunction have been linked to a variety of vascular inflammatory disease states. The function of microRNAs (miRNAs) in vascular EC activation and inflammation remains poorly understood. Herein, we report that microRNA-181b (miR-181b) serves as a potent regulator of downstream NF-κB signaling in the vascular endothelium by targeting importin-α3, a protein that is required for nuclear translocation of NF-κB. Overexpression of miR-181b inhibited importin-α3 expression and an enriched set of NF-κB–responsive genes such as adhesion molecules VCAM-1 and E-selectin in ECs in vitro and in vivo. In addition, treatment of mice with proinflammatory stimuli reduced miR-181b expression. Rescue of miR-181b levels by systemic administration of miR-181b “mimics” reduced downstream NF-κB signaling and leukocyte influx in the vascular endothelium and decreased lung injury and mortality in endotoxemic mice. In contrast, miR-181b inhibition exacerbated endotoxin-induced NF-κB activity, leukocyte influx, and lung injury. Finally, we observed that critically ill patients with sepsis had reduced levels of miR-181b compared with control intensive care unit (ICU) subjects. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that miR-181b regulates NF-κB–mediated EC activation and vascular inflammation in response to proinflammatory stimuli and that rescue of miR-181b expression could provide a new target for antiinflammatory therapy and critical illness.
PMCID: PMC3366408  PMID: 22622040
15.  Allergy Risk Is Mediated by Dendritic Cells with Congenital Epigenetic Changes 
One factor predisposing toward allergic responses is a maternal history of allergy. In a mouse model of maternal transmission of asthma risk, offspring of asthmatic, but not normal, mothers show increased allergic susceptibility, recreating epidemiologic observations in humans. Dendritic cells (DCs) capture and process antigens, and can skew immune responses toward a pro-allergic T helper 2 phenotype. Genome-wide analysis shows that neonates of allergic mothers are born with substantial changes in DNA methylation in their splenic CD11c+ DCs, findings observed without any contact with allergens. We demonstrate that these DCs from allergen-naive neonates born to asthmatic mothers, but not DCs from offspring of normal mothers, confer increased allergic susceptibility to multiple allergens when adoptively transferred into normal recipient mice, manifesting as increased airway responsiveness and allergic inflammation. Other immune splenocytes, including macrophages and CD4+ T cells, did not transfer the effect. The “asthma-susceptible” DCs also show enhanced allergen-presentation activity in vitro. Our findings suggest that maternal allergy results in an altered epigenetic profile in neonatal DCs that is independent of encounters with allergens and is linked to pro-allergic function.
PMCID: PMC3095930  PMID: 20118218
dendritic cells; allergy; asthma; epigenetics; DNA methylation
16.  Genome-Wide RNAi Screen in IFN-γ-Treated Human Macrophages Identifies Genes Mediating Resistance to the Intracellular Pathogen Francisella tularensis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31752.
Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) inhibits intracellular replication of Francisella tularensis in human monocyte-derived macrophages (HMDM) and in mice, but the mechanisms of this protective effect are poorly characterized. We used genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screening in the human macrophage cell line THP-1 to identify genes that mediate the beneficial effects of IFN-γ on F. tularensis infection. A primary screen identified ∼200 replicated candidate genes. These were prioritized according to mRNA expression in IFN-γ-primed and F. tularensis-challenged macrophages. A panel of 20 top hits was further assessed by re-testing using individual shRNAs or siRNAs in THP-1 cells, HMDMs and primary human lung macrophages. Six of eight validated genes tested were also found to confer resistance to Listeria monocytogenes infection, suggesting a broadly shared host gene program for intracellular pathogens. The F. tularensis-validated hits included ‘druggable’ targets such as TNFRSF9, which encodes CD137. Treating HMDM with a blocking antibody to CD137 confirmed a beneficial role of CD137 in macrophage clearance of F. tularensis. These studies reveal a number of important mediators of IFN-γ activated host defense against intracellular pathogens, and implicate CD137 as a potential therapeutic target and regulator of macrophage interactions with Francisella tularensis.
PMCID: PMC3281001  PMID: 22359626
17.  Scavenger receptors and β-glucan receptors participate in the recognition of yeasts by murine macrophages 
Inflammation Research  2011;61(2):113-126.
Numerous receptors have been implicated in recognition of pathogenic fungi by macrophages, including the β-glucan receptor dectin-1. The role of scavenger receptors (SRs) in anti-fungal immunity is not well characterized.
We studied uptake of unopsonized Saccharomycetes cerevisiae (zymosan) and live Candida albicans yeasts as well as zymosan-stimulated H2O2 production in J774 macrophage-like cells and peritoneal exudate macrophages (PEMs). The role of different receptors was assessed with the use of competitive ligands, transfected cells and receptor-deficient macrophages.
The uptake of zymosan by untreated J774 cells was mediated approximately half by SRs and half by a β-glucan receptor which was distinct from dectin-1 and not linked to stimulation of H2O2 production. Ligands of β-glucan receptors and of SRs also inhibited uptake of C. albicans by macrophages (J774 cells and PEMs). In macrophages pretreated with a CpG motif-containing oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG-ODN) the relative contribution of SRs to yeast uptake increased and that of β-glucan receptors decreased. Whereas the class A SR MARCO participated in the uptake of both zymosan and C. albicans by CpG-ODN-pretreated, but not untreated macrophages, the related receptor SR-A/CD204 was involved in the uptake of zymosan, but not of C. albicans. The reduction of zymosan-stimulated H2O2 production observed in DS-pretreated J774 cells and in class A SRs-deficient PEMs suggest that class A SRs mediate part of this process.
Our results revealed that SRs belong to a redundant system of receptors for yeasts. Binding of yeasts to different receptors in resting versus CpG-ODN-pre-exposed macrophages may differentially affect polarization of adaptive immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3265724  PMID: 22116297
MARCO; CD204; Oxidative burst
18.  Risk for Asthma in Offspring of Asthmatic Mothers versus Fathers: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10134.
Many human epidemiologic studies demonstrate that maternal asthma confers greater risk of asthma to offspring than does paternal disease. However, a handful have shown the opposite. Given this disparity, a meta-analysis is necessary to determine the veracity and magnitude of the “maternal effect.”
Methodology/Principal Findings
We screened the medical literature from 1966 to 2009 and performed a meta-analysis to compare the effect of maternal asthma vs. paternal asthma on offspring asthma susceptibility. Aggregating data from 33 studies, the odds ratio for asthma in children of asthmatic mothers compared with non-asthmatic mothers was significantly increased at 3.04 (95% confidence interval: 2.59–3.56). The corresponding odds ratio for asthma in children of asthmatic fathers was increased at 2.44 (2.14–2.79). When comparing the odds ratios, maternal asthma conferred greater risk of disease than did paternal asthma (3.04 vs. 2.44, p = 0.037). When analyzing the studies in which asthma was diagnosed by a physician the odds ratios were attenuated and no significant differences were observed (2.85 vs. 2.48, N = 18, p = 0.37). Similarly, no significant differences were observed between maternal and paternal odds ratios when analyzing the studies in which the patient population was 5 years or older (3.15 vs. 2.60, p = 0.14). However, in all cases the trend remained the same, that maternal asthma was a greater risk factor for asthma than paternal.
The results show that maternal asthma increases offspring disease risk to a greater extent than paternal disease.
PMCID: PMC2853568  PMID: 20405032
19.  Heterogeneity in Macrophage Phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus Strains: High-Throughput Scanning Cytometry-Based Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6209.
Alveolar macrophages (AMs) can phagocytose unopsonized pathogens such as S. aureus via innate immune receptors, such as scavenger receptors (SRs). Cytoskeletal events and signaling pathways involved in phagocytosis of unopsonized bacteria likely govern the fate of ingested pathogens, but are poorly characterized. We have developed a high-throughput scanning cytometry-based assay to quantify phagocytosis of S. aureus by adherent human blood-derived AM-like macrophages in a 96-well microplate format. Differential fluorescent labeling of internalized vs. bound bacteria or beads allowed automated image analysis of collapsed confocal stack images acquired by scanning cytometry, and quantification of total particles bound and percent of particles internalized. We compared the effects of the classic SR blocker polyinosinic acid, the cytoskeletal inhibitors cytochalasin D and nocodazole, and the signaling inhibitors staurosporine, Gö 6976, JNK Inhibitor I and KN-93, on phagocytosis of a panel of live unopsonized S. aureus strains, (Wood, Seattle 1945 (ATCC 25923), and RN6390), as well as a commercial killed Wood strain, heat-killed Wood strain and latex beads. Our results revealed failure of the SR inhibitor polyinosinic acid to block binding of any live S. aureus strains, suggesting that SR-mediated uptake of a commercial killed fluorescent bacterial particle does not accurately model interaction with viable bacteria. We also observed heterogeneity in the effects of cytoskeletal and signaling inhibitors on internalization of different S. aureus strains. The data suggest that uptake of unopsonized live S. aureus by human macrophages is not mediated by SRs, and that the cellular mechanical and signaling processes that mediate S. aureus phagocytosis vary. The findings also demonstrate the potential utility of high-throughput scanning cytometry techniques to study phagocytosis of S. aureus and other organisms in greater detail.
PMCID: PMC2703801  PMID: 19593389
20.  Transplacental Passage of Interleukins 4 and 13? 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4660.
The mechanisms by which prenatal events affect development of adult disease are incompletely characterized. Based on findings in a murine model of maternal transmission of asthma risk, we sought to test the role of the pro-asthmatic cytokines interleukin IL-4 and -13. To assess transplacental passage of functional cytokines, we assayed phosphorylation of STAT-6, a marker of IL-4 and -13 signaling via heterodimeric receptor complexes which require an IL-4 receptor alpha subunit. IL-4 receptor alpha−/− females were mated to wild-type males, and pregnant females were injected with supraphysiologic doses of IL-4 or 13. One hour after injection, the receptor heterozygotic embryos were harvested and tissue nuclear proteins extracts assayed for phosphorylation of STAT-6 by Western blot. While direct injection of embryos produced a robust positive control, no phosphorylation was seen after maternal injection with either IL-4 or -13, indicating that neither crossed the placenta in detectable amounts. The data demonstrate a useful approach to assay for transplacental passage of functional maternal molecules, and indicate that molecules other than IL-4 and IL-13 may mediate transplacental effects in maternal transmission of asthma risk.
PMCID: PMC2645503  PMID: 19252738
21.  Pulmonary Exposure to Particles during Pregnancy Causes Increased Neonatal Asthma Susceptibility 
Maternal immune responses can promote allergy development in offspring, as shown in a model of increased susceptibility to asthma in babies of ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized and -challenged mother mice. We investigated whether inflammatory responses to air pollution particles (diesel exhaust particles, DEP) or control “inert” titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles are enhanced during pregnancy and whether exposure to particles can cause increased neonatal susceptibility to asthma. Pregnant BALB/c mice (or nonpregnant controls) received particle suspensions intranasally at Day 14 of pregnancy. Lung inflammatory responses were evaluated 48 hours after exposure. Offspring of particle- or buffer-treated mothers were sensitized and aerosolized with OVA, followed by assays of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and allergic inflammation (AI). Nonpregnant females had the expected minimal response to “inert” TiO2. In contrast, pregnant mice showed robust and persistent acute inflammation after both TiO2 and DEP. Genomic profiling identified genes differentially expressed in pregnant lungs exposed to TiO2. Neonates of mothers exposed to TiO2 (and DEP, but not PBS) developed AHR and AI, indicating that pregnancy exposure to both “inert” TiO2 and DEP caused increased asthma susceptibility in offspring. We conclude that (1) pregnancy enhances lung inflammatory responses to otherwise relatively innocuous inert particles; and (2) exposures of nonallergic pregnant females to inert or toxic environmental air particles can cause increased allergic susceptibility in offspring.
PMCID: PMC2176127  PMID: 17656681
maternal asthma; environmental particles; titanuim dioxide; diesel exhaust particles; susceptibility
22.  Air pollution particles diminish bacterial clearance in the primed lungs of mice 
Epidemiological studies reveal increased incidence of lung infection when air pollution particle levels are increased. We postulate that one risk factor for bacterial pneumonia, prior viral infection, can prime the lung for greater deleterious effects of particles via the γ-interferon (IFN-γ) characteristic of successful host anti-viral responses. To test this postulate, we developed a mouse model in which mice were treated with γ-interferon aerosol, followed by exposure to concentrated ambient particles (CAPs) collected from urban air. The mice were then infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae and the effect of these treatments on the lung innate immune response was evaluated. The combination of IFN-γ priming and CAPs exposure enhanced lung inflammation, manifest as increased polymorphonuclear granulocyte (PMN) recruitment to the lung, and elevated expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNAs. Combined priming and CAPs exposure resulted in impaired pulmonary bacterial clearance, as well as increased oxidant production and diminished bacterial uptake by alveolar macrophages (AMs) and PMNs. The data suggest that priming and CAPs exposure lead to an inflamed alveolar milieu where oxidant stress causes loss of antibacterial functions in AMs and recruited PMNs. The model reported here will allow further analysis of priming and CAPs exposure on lung sensitivity to infection.
PMCID: PMC2075081  PMID: 17561223
γ-interferon priming; air pollution particles; Streptococcus pneumoniae; AMs; PMNs
23.  Signaling pathways required for macrophage scavenger receptor-mediated phagocytosis: analysis by scanning cytometry 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):59.
Scavenger receptors are important components of the innate immune system in the lung, allowing alveolar macrophages to bind and phagocytose numerous unopsonized targets. Mice with genetic deletions of scavenger receptors, such as SR-A and MARCO, are susceptible to infection or inflammation from inhaled pathogens or dusts. However, the signaling pathways required for scavenger receptor-mediated phagocytosis of unopsonized particles have not been characterized.
We developed a scanning cytometry-based high-throughput assay of macrophage phagocytosis that quantitates bound and internalized unopsonized latex beads. This assay allowed the testing of a panel of signaling inhibitors which have previously been shown to target opsonin-dependent phagocytosis for their effect on unopsonized bead uptake by human in vitro-derived alveolar macrophage-like cells. The non-selective scavenger receptor inhibitor poly(I) and the actin destabilizer cytochalasin D were used to validate the assay and caused near complete abrogation of bead binding and internalization, respectively.
Microtubule destabilization using nocodazole dramatically inhibited bead internalization. Internalization was also significantly reduced by inhibitors of tyrosine kinases (genistein and herbimycin A), protein kinase C (staurosporine, chelerythrine chloride and Gö 6976), phosphoinositide-3 kinase (LY294002 and wortmannin), and the JNK and ERK pathways. In contrast, inhibition of phospholipase C by U-73122 had no effect.
These data indicate the utility of scanning cytometry for the analysis of phagocytosis and that phagocytosis of unopsonized particles has both shared and distinct features when compared to opsonin-mediated phagocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2527561  PMID: 18687123
24.  Characterization of immortalized MARCO and SR-AI/II-deficient murine alveolar macrophage cell lines 
Alveolar macrophages (AM) avidly bind and ingest unopsonized inhaled particles and bacteria through class A scavenger receptors (SRAs) MARCO and SR-AI/II. Studies to characterize the function of these SRAs have used AMs from MARCO or SR-AI/II null mice, but this approach is limited by the relatively low yield of AMs. Moreover, studies using both MARCO and SR-AI/II-deficient (MS-/-) mice have not been reported yet. Hence, we sought to develop continuous cell lines from primary alveolar macrophages from MS-/- mice.
We used in vitro infection of the primary AMs with the J2 retrovirus carrying the v-raf and v-myc oncogenes. Following initial isolation in media supplemented with murine macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), we subcloned three AM cell lines, designated ZK-1, ZK-2 and ZK-6. These cell lines grow well in RPMI-1640-10% FBS in the absence of M-CSF. These adherent but trypsin-sensitive cell lines have a doubling time of approximately 14 hours, exhibit typical macrophage morphology, and express macrophage-associated cell surface Mac-1 (CD11b) and F4/80 antigens. The cell lines show robust Fc-receptor dependent phagocytosis of opsonized red blood cells. Similar to freshly isolated AMs from MS-/- mice, the cell lines exhibit decreased phagocytosis of unopsonized titanium dioxide (TiO2), fluorescent latex beads and bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) compared with the primary AMs from wild type (WT) C57BL/6 mice.
Our results indicated that three contiguous murine alveolar macrophage cell lines with MS-/- (ZK1, ZK2 and ZK6) were established successfully. These cell lines demonstrated macrophage morphology and functional activity. Interestingly, similar to freshly isolated AMs from MS-/- mice, the cell lines have a reduced, but not absent, ability to bind and ingest particles, with an altered pattern of blockade by scavenger receptor inhibitors. These cell lines will facilitate in vitro studies to further define MARCO and SR-AI/II function, and may also be useful to identify other novel scavenger-type macrophage receptors and for additional studies of particle toxicology.
PMCID: PMC2427050  PMID: 18452625
25.  Effect of Concentrated Ambient Particles on Macrophage Phagocytosis and Killing of Streptococcus pneumoniae 
Particulate air pollution is linked to increased pneumonia epidemiologically and diminished lung bacterial clearance experimentally. We investigated the effect of concentrated ambient particles (CAPs, ⩽ PM2.5) on the interaction of murine primary alveolar macrophages (AMs) and the murine macrophage cell line, J774 A.1, with Streptococcus pneumoniae. We found that CAPs increased binding of bacteria by both primary AMs and J774 cells (66.7 ± 10.6% and 58.9 ± 4.0%, respectively, n = 4). In contrast to bacterial binding, CAPs decreased internalization in both AMs and J774 (55.4 ± 8.5% and 54.7 ± 5.1%, respectively, n = 4). The rate of killing of internalized bacteria was similar, but CAPs caused a decrease in the absolute number of bacteria killed by macrophages, mainly due to decreased internalization. Additional analyses showed that soluble components of CAPs mediated the enhanced binding and decreased internalization of S. pneumoniae. Chelation of iron in soluble CAPs substantially reversed, while addition of iron as ferric ammonium citrate restored inhibition of phagocytosis of S. pneumoniae in vitro. The results identify phagocytic internalization as a specific target for toxic effects of air pollution particles on AMs.
PMCID: PMC1899326  PMID: 17079778
concentrated ambient particles; macrophages; Streptococcus pneumoniae; phagocytosis; killing

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