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1.  Extracellular Cyclophilin Levels Associate with Parameters of Asthma in Phenotypic Clusters 
Leukocyte persistence during chronic (quiescent) phases of asthma is a major hallmark of the disease. The mechanisms regulating these persistent leukocyte populations are not clearly understood. An alternative family of chemoattracting proteins, cyclophilins, has recently been shown to contribute to leukocyte recruitment in animal models of allergic asthma. The goal of this study was to determine if cyclophilins are present in asthma patients during the chronic phase of disease, and to investigate whether levels of cyclophilins associate with clinical parameters of disease severity.
Nasal wash samples from an urban cohort of 137 6- to 20-year olds with physician-diagnosed asthma were examined for the presence of cyclophilin A (CypA), cyclophilin B (CypB), as well as several other classical chemokines. Linear, logistic, or ordinal regressions were performed to identify associations between cyclophilins, chemokines, and clinical parameters of asthma. The asthma cohort was further divided into previously established phenotypic clusters (Cluster 1 n=55; cluster 2 n=31; and cluster 3 n=51), and examined for associations.
Levels of CypB in the asthma group were highly elevated compared to non-asthmatic controls, while a slight increase in MCP-1 was also observed. CypA and MCP-1 were associated with levels of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP; a marker of eosinophil activation). Cluster-specific associations were found for CypA and CypB and clinical asthma parameters [e.g. forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and ECP].
Cyclophilins are present in nasal wash samples of asthma patients and may be a novel biomarker for clinical parameters of asthma severity.
PMCID: PMC4046105  PMID: 21999750
asthma; cyclophilin; chemokine; cluster analysis; phenotype
2.  VBP15, a Glucocorticoid Analogue, Is Effective at Reducing Allergic Lung Inflammation in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63871.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the lower respiratory tract associated with airway hyperreactivity and mucus obstruction in which a majority of cases are due to an allergic response to environmental allergens. Glucocorticoids such as prednisone have been standard treatment for many inflammatory diseases for the past 60 years. However, despite their effectiveness, long-term treatment is often limited by adverse side effects believed to be caused by glucocorticoid receptor-mediated gene transcription. This has led to the pursuit of compounds that retain the anti-inflammatory properties yet lack the adverse side effects associated with traditional glucocorticoids. We have developed a novel series of steroidal analogues (VBP compounds) that have been previously shown to maintain anti-inflammatory properties such as NFκB-inhibition without inducing glucocorticoid receptor-mediated gene transcription. This study was undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the lead compound, VBP15, in a mouse model of allergic lung inflammation. We show that VBP15 is as effective as the traditional glucocorticoid, prednisolone, at reducing three major hallmarks of lung inflammation—NFκB activity, leukocyte degranulation, and pro-inflammatory cytokine release from human bronchial epithelial cells obtained from patients with asthma. Moreover, we found that VBP15 is capable of reducing inflammation of the lung in vivo to an extent similar to that of prednisone. We found that prednisolone–but not VBP15 shortens the tibia in mice upon a 5 week treatment regimen suggesting effective dissociation of side effects from efficacy. These findings suggest that VBP15 may represent a potent and safer alternative to traditional glucocorticoids in the treatment of asthma and other inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3646769  PMID: 23667681
3.  A Cell-Impermeable Cyclosporine A Derivative Reduces Pathology in a Mouse Model of Allergic Lung Inflammation 
Although the main regulators of leukocyte trafficking are chemokines, another family of chemotactic agents is cyclophilins. Intracellular cyclophilins function as peptidyl-protyl cis-trans isomerases and are targets of the immunosuppressive drug, cyclosporine A (CsA). Cyclophilins can also be secreted in response to stress factors, with elevated levels of extracellular cyclophilins detected in several inflammatory diseases. Extracellular cyclophilins are known to have potent chemotactic properties, suggesting they might contribute to inflammatory responses by recruiting leukocytes into tissues. The objective of the current study was to determine the impact of blocking cyclophilin activity using a cell-impermeable derivative of CsA, MM218, to specifically target extracellular pools of cyclophilins. We show that treatment with this compound in a mouse model of allergic lung inflammation: 1) demonstrates up to 80% reduction in inflammation, 2) directly inhibits the recruitment of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells, and 3) works equally well when delivered at 100-fold lower doses to the airways. Our findings suggest that cell-impermeable analogs of CsA can effectively reduce inflammatory responses by targeting leukocyte recruitment mediated by extracellular cyclophilins. Specifically blocking the extracellular function(s) of cyclophilins may provide a novel approach for inhibiting the recruitment of one of the principal immune regulators of allergic lung inflammation, antigen-specific CD4+ T cells, into inflamed airways and lungs.
PMCID: PMC3603141  PMID: 21057089
4.  Blocking Cyclophilins in the Chronic Phase of Asthma Reduces the Persistence of Leukocytes and Disease Reactivation 
Allergic asthma is characterized by acute influxes of proinflammatory leukocytes in response to allergen stimulation, followed by quiescent (chronic) periods between allergen challenges, during which sustained, low-level inflammation is evident. These chronic phases of disease are thought to be mediated by populations of leukocytes persisting within airways and tissues. The lack of any in situ proliferation by these cells, along with their limited lifespan, suggests that a continual recruitment of leukocytes from the circulation is needed to maintain disease chronicity. The mechanisms regulating this persistent recruitment of leukocytes are unknown. Although classic leukocyte-attracting chemokines are highly elevated after acute allergen challenge, they return to baseline levels within 24 hours, and remain close to undetectable during the chronic phase. In the present study, we investigated whether an alternative family of chemoattractants, namely, extracellular cyclophilins, might instead play a role in regulating the recruitment and persistence of leukocytes during chronic asthma, because their production is known to be more sustained during inflammatory responses. Using a new murine model of chronic allergic asthma, elevated concentrations of extracellular cyclophilin A, but not classic chemokines, were indeed detected during the chronic phase of asthma. Furthermore, blocking the activity of cyclophilins during this phase reduced the number of persisting leukocytes by up to 80%. This reduction was also associated with a significant inhibition of acute disease reactivation upon subsequent allergen challenge. These findings suggest that blocking the function of cyclophilins during the chronic phase of asthma may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for regulating disease chronicity and severity.
PMCID: PMC3262693  PMID: 21493785
chronic asthma; cyclophilins; cyclosporine A; NIM811
5.  Lung Inflammation, Injury, and Proliferative Response after Repetitive Particulate Hexavalent Chromium Exposure 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2009;117(12):1896-1902.
Chronic inflammation is implicated in the development of several human cancers, including lung cancer. Certain particulate hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] compounds are well-documented human respiratory carcinogens that release genotoxic soluble chromate and are associated with fibrosis, fibrosarcomas, adenocarcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas of the lung. Despite this, little is known about the pathologic injury and immune responses after repetitive exposure to particulate chromates.
In this study we investigated the lung injury, inflammation, proliferation, and survival signaling responses after repetitive exposure to particulate chromate.
BALB/c mice were repetitively treated with particulate basic zinc chromate or saline using an intranasal exposure regimen. We assessed lungs for Cr(VI)-induced changes by bronchoalveolar lavage, histologic examination, and immunohistochemistry.
Single exposure to Cr(VI) resulted in inflammation of lung tissue that persists for up to 21 days. Repetitive Cr(VI) exposure induced a neutrophilic inflammatory airway response 24 hr after each treatment. Neutrophils were subsequently replaced by increasing numbers of macrophages by 5 days after treatment. Repetitive Cr(VI) exposure induced chronic peribronchial inflammation with alveolar and interstitial pneumonitis dominated by lymphocytes and macrophages. Moreover, chronic toxic mucosal injury was observed and accompanied by increased airway pro-matrix metalloprotease-9. Injury and inflammation correlated with airways becoming immunoreactive for phosphorylation of the survival signaling protein Akt and the proliferation marker Ki-67. We observed a reactive proliferative response in epithelial cells lining airways of chromate-exposed animals.
These data illustrate that repetitive exposure to particulate chromate induces chronic injury and an inflammatory microenvironment that may promote Cr(VI) carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2799464  PMID: 20049209
chromium; hexavalent; inflammation; injury; intranasal; lung; proliferation; repair
6.  Binding of Excreted and/or Secreted Products of Adult Hookworms to Human NK Cells in Necator americanus-Infected Individuals from Brazil▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(12):5810-5816.
The impact of the interaction between excreted and/or secreted (ES) Necator americanus products and NK cells from Necator-infected individuals was analyzed. We investigated the binding of ES products to NK cells, the expression of NK cell receptors (CD56, CD159a/NKG2A, CD314/NKG2D, CD335/NKp46, and KLRF1/NKp80), the frequency of gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing NK cells after whole-blood in vitro stimulation, and the capacity of N. americanus ES products to induce NK cell chemotaxis. In contrast to those from noninfected individuals, NK cells from Necator-infected individuals demonstrated no binding with N. americanus ES products. This phenomenon was not due to alterations in NK cell receptor expression in infected subjects and could not be reproduced with NK cells from uninfected individuals by incubation with immunoregulatory cytokines (interleukin-10/transforming growth factor β). Further, we found that a significantly greater percentage of NK cells from infected subjects than NK cells from uninfected individuals spontaneously produced IFN-γ upon ex vivo culture. Our findings support a model whereby NK cells from Necator-infected individuals may interact with ES products, making these cells refractory to binding with exogenous ES products. During N. americanus infection, human NK cells are attracted to the site of infection by chemotactic ES products produced by adult Necator worms in the gut mucosa. Binding of ES products causes the NK cells to become activated and secrete IFN-γ locally, thereby contributing to the adult hookworm's ability to evade host immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2583555  PMID: 18838519

Results 1-6 (6)