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1.  Regulatory tone and mucosal immunity in asthma 
International immunopharmacology  2014;23(1):330-336.
The lung is constantly exposed to a variety of inhaled foreign antigens, many of which are harmless to the body. Therefore, the mucosal immune system must not only have the capacity to distinguish self from non-self, but also harmless versus dangerous non-self. To address this, mucosal immune cells establish an anti-inflammatory steady state in the lung that must be overcome by inflammatory signals in order to mount an effector immune response. In the case of inhaled allergens, the false detection of dangerous non-self results in inappropriate immune activation and eventual allergic asthma. Both basic and clinical studies suggest that the balance between tolerogenic and inflammatory immune responses is a key feature in the outcome of health or disease. This Review is focused on what we term ‘regulatory tone’: the immunosuppressive environment in the lung that must be overcome to induce inflammatory responses. We will summarize the current literature on this topic, with a particular focus on the role of regulatory T cells in preventing allergic disease of the lung. We propose that inter-individual differences in regulatory tone have the potential to not only establish the threshold for immune activation in the lung, but also shape the quality of resulting effector responses following tolerance breakdown.
PMCID: PMC4253865  PMID: 24975833
Asthma; Regulatory T cells; Dendritic cells; Regulatory tone; Late-onset asthma
2.  Epithelial barrier function: at the frontline of asthma immunology and allergic airway inflammation 
Airway epithelial cells form a barrier to the outside world, and are at the frontline of mucosal immunity. Epithelial apical junctional complexes are multi-protein subunits that promote cell-cell adhesion and barrier integrity. Recent studies in the skin and GI tract suggest that disruption of cell-cell junctions is required to initiate epithelial immune responses, but how this applies to mucosal immunity in the lung is not clear. Increasing evidence indicates that defective epithelial barrier function is a feature of airway inflammation in asthma. One challenge in this area is that barrier function and junctional integrity are difficult to study in the intact lung, but innovative approaches should provide new knowledge in this area in the near future. In this article, we review the structure and function of epithelial apical junctional complexes, emphasizing how regulation of the epithelial barrier impacts innate and adaptive immunity. We discuss why defective epithelial barrier function may be linked to Th2 polarization in asthma, and propose a rheostat model of barrier dysfunction that implicates the size of inhaled allergen particles as an important factor influencing adaptive immunity.
PMCID: PMC4170838  PMID: 25085341
Airway epithelium; Asthma; Barrier Defect; Mucosal Immunity; Tight Junction; Adherens Junction; Innate immunity; Allergy
3.  Breaking Barriers. New Insights into Airway Epithelial Barrier Function in Health and Disease 
Epithelial permeability is a hallmark of mucosal inflammation, but the molecular mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. A key component of the epithelial barrier is the apical junctional complex that forms between neighboring cells. Apical junctional complexes are made of tight junctions and adherens junctions and link to the cellular cytoskeleton via numerous adaptor proteins. Although the existence of tight and adherens junctions between epithelial cells has long been recognized, in recent years there have been significant advances in our understanding of the molecular regulation of junctional complex assembly and disassembly. Here we review the current thinking about the structure and function of the apical junctional complex in airway epithelial cells, emphasizing the translational aspects of relevance to cystic fibrosis and asthma. Most work to date has been conducted using cell culture models, but technical advancements in imaging techniques suggest that we are on the verge of important new breakthroughs in this area in physiological models of airway diseases.
PMCID: PMC4068951  PMID: 24467704
5.  The effects of aspirin on platelet function and lysophosphatidic acids depend on plasma concentrations of EPA and DHA 
Aspirin’s prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus is controversial. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and aspirin all affect the cyclooxygenase enzyme. The relationship between plasma EPA and DHA and aspirin’s effects has not been determined. Thirty adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus ingested aspirin (81 mg/day) for 7 days, then EPA+DHA (2.6 g/day) for 28 days, then both for another 7 days. Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) species and more classic platelet function outcomes were determined. Plasma concentrations of total EPA+DHA were associated with 7-day aspirin reduction effects on these outcomes in a “V”-shaped manner for all 11 LPA species and ADP-induced platelet aggregation. This EPA+DHA concentration was quite consistent for each of the LPA species and ADP. These results support aspirin effects on lysolipid metabolism and platelet aggregation depending on plasma EPA+DHA concentrations in individuals with a disturbed lipid milieu.
PMCID: PMC4395522  PMID: 25555354
Lysophosphatidylcholine; lysophosphatidic acid; omega-3 fatty acids; eicosapentaenoic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; aspirin; platelet function
6.  Adjuvant effect of diphtheria toxin after mucosal administration in both wild type and diphtheria toxin receptor engineered mouse strains 
Journal of immunological methods  2013;0:10.1016/j.jim.2013.10.010.
The finding that murine and simian cells have differential susceptibility to diphtheria toxin (DTx) led to the development of genetically engineered mouse strains that express the simian or human diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) under the control of various mouse gene promoters. Injection of DTx into DTR engineered mice allows for rapid and transient depletion of various cell populations. There are several advantages to this approach over global knockout mice, including normal mouse development and temporal control over when cell depletion occurs. As a result, many DTR engineered mouse strains have been developed, resulting in significant insights into the cell biology of various disease states. We used Foxp3DTR mice to attempt local depletion of Foxp3+ cells in the lung in a model of tolerance breakdown. Intratracheal administration of DTx resulted in robust depletion of lung Foxp3+ cells. However, DTx administration was accompanied by significant local inflammation, even in control C57Bl/6 mice. These data suggest that DTx administration to non-transgenic mice is not always an immunologically inert event, and proper controls must be used to assess various DTx-mediated depletion regimens.
PMCID: PMC3873768  PMID: 24200744
diphtheria toxin; lung; regulatory T cells; tolerance
7.  Pre-existing Tolerance Shapes the Outcome of Mucosal Allergen Sensitization in a Murine Model of Asthma 
Recent published studies have highlighted the complexity of the immune response to allergens, and the various asthma phenotypes that arise as a result. While the interplay of regulatory and effector immune cells responding to allergen would seem to dictate the nature of the asthmatic response, little is known as to how tolerance versus reactivity to allergen occurs in the lung. The vast majority of mouse models study allergen encounter in naïve animals, and therefore exclude the possibility that previous encounters with allergen may influence future sensitization. To address this, we studied sensitization to the model allergen OVA in mice in the context of pre-existing tolerance to OVA. Allergen sensitization by either systemic administration of OVA with aluminum hydroxide or mucosal administration of OVA with low-dose lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was suppressed in tolerized animals. However, higher doses of LPS induced a mixed Th2 and Th17 response to OVA in both naïve and tolerized mice. Interestingly, tolerized mice had more pronounced Th17 type inflammation than naïve mice receiving the same sensitization, suggesting pre-existing tolerance altered the inflammatory phenotype. These data show that a pre-existing tolerogenic immune response to allergen can impact subsequent sensitization in the lung. These findings have potential significance in understanding late-onset disease in severe asthmatics.
PMCID: PMC3796001  PMID: 24038084
8.  Lpa2 is a negative regulator of dendritic cell activation and murine models of allergic lung inflammation 
Negative regulation of innate immune responses is essential in order to prevent excess inflammation and tissue injury and promote homeostasis. Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a pleiotropic lipid that regulates cell growth, migration and activation, and is constitutively produced at low levels in tissues and in serum. Extracellular LPA binds to specific G-protein coupled receptors, the function of which in regulating innate or adaptive immune responses remains poorly understood. Of the classical LPA receptors belonging to the Edg family, lpa2 (edg4) is expressed by dendritic cells (DC) and other innate immune cells. Here we show that DC from lpa2−/− mice are hyperactive compared to their wild-type counterparts, and are also less susceptible to inhibition by different LPA species. In transient transfection assays, we found that lpa2-overexpression inhibits NF-κB-driven gene transcription. Using an adoptive transfer approach, we found that allergen-pulsed lpa2−/− DC induced substantially more lung inflammation than wild-type DC after inhaled allergen challenge. Finally, lpa2−/− mice develop greater allergen-driven lung inflammation than their wild-type counterparts in models of allergic asthma involving both systemic and mucosal sensitization. Taken together, these findings identify LPA acting via lpa2 as a novel negative regulatory pathway that inhibits dendritic cell activation and allergic airway inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3324594  PMID: 22427635
9.  Interleukin-4 and interleukin-13 cause barrier dysfunction in human airway epithelial cells 
Tissue Barriers  2013;1(2):e24333.
Emerging evidence indicates that airway epithelial barrier function is compromised in asthma, a disease characterized by Th2-skewed immune response against inhaled allergens, but the mechanisms involved are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Th2-type cytokines on airway epithelial barrier function. 16HBE14o- human bronchial epithelial cells monolayers were grown on collagen coated Transwell inserts. The basolateral or apical surfaces of airway epithelia were exposed to human interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-13, IL-25, IL-33, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) alone or in combination at various concentrations and time points. We analyzed epithelial apical junctional complex (AJC) function by measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and permeability to FITC-conjugated dextran over time. We analyzed AJC structure using immunofluorescence with antibodies directed against key junctional components including occludin, ZO-1, β-catenin and E-cadherin. Transepithelial resistance was significantly decreased after both basolateral and apical exposure to IL-4. Permeability to 3 kDa dextran was also increased in IL-4-exposed cells. Similar results were obtained with IL-13, but none of the innate type 2 cytokines examined (TSLP, IL-25 or IL-33) significantly affected barrier function. IL-4 and IL-13-induced barrier dysfunction was accompanied by reduced expression of membrane AJC components but not by induction of claudin- 2. Enhanced permeability caused by IL-4 was not affected by wortmannin, an inhibitor of PI3 kinase signaling, but was attenuated by a broad spectrum inhibitor of janus associated kinases. Our study indicates that IL-4 and IL-13 have disruptive effect on airway epithelial barrier function. Th2-cytokine induced epithelial barrier dysfunction may contribute to airway inflammation in allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC3875607  PMID: 24665390
IL-13; IL-25; IL-33; IL-4; Janus associated kinase (JAK); TSLP; Th2 cytokines; adherens junction; airway epithelial cell; allergy; apical junctional complex; asthma; barrier dysfunction; tight junction
10.  Polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid induces protein kinase D–dependent disassembly of apical junctions and barrier dysfunction in airway epithelial cells 
Disruption of the epithelial barrier might be a risk factor for allergen sensitization and asthma. Viral respiratory tract infections are strongly associated with asthma exacerbation, but the effects of respiratory viruses on airway epithelial barrier function are not well understood. Many viruses generate double-stranded RNA, which can lead to airway inflammation and initiate an antiviral immune response.
We investigated the effects of the synthetic double-stranded RNA polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (polyI:C) on the structure and function of the airway epithelial barrier in vitro.
16HBE14o- human bronchial epithelial cells and primary airway epithelial cells at an air-liquid interface were grown to confluence on Transwell inserts and exposed to polyI:C. We studied epithelial barrier function by measuring transepithelial electrical resistance and paracellular flux of fluorescent markers and structure of epithelial apical junctions by means of immunofluorescence microscopy.
PolyI:C induced a profound decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance and increase in paracellular permeability. Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed markedly reduced junctional localization of zonula occludens-1, occludin, E-cadherin, β-catenin, and disorganization of junction-associated actin filaments. PolyI:C induced protein kinase D (PKD) phosphorylation, and a PKD antagonist attenuated polyI:C-induced disassembly of apical junctions and barrier dysfunction.
PolyI:C has a powerful and previously unsuspected disruptive effect on the airway epithelial barrier. PolyI:C-dependent barrier disruption is mediated by disassembly of epithelial apical junctions, which is dependent on PKD signaling. These findings suggest a new mechanism potentially underlying the associations between viral respiratory tract infections, airway inflammation, and allergen sensitization.
PMCID: PMC3273326  PMID: 21996340
Asthma; polyI:C; Toll-like receptor 3; epithelial permeability; protein kinase C; tight junctions; adherens junctions
11.  An IL-13 Promoter Polymorphism Associated with Liver Fibrosis in Patients with Schistosoma japonicum 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0135360.
The aim of this study was to determine whether two polymorphisms in the gene encoding IL13 previously associated with Schistosoma hematobium (S. hematobium) and S. mansoni infection are associated with S. japonicum infection. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs1800925 (IL13/-1112C>T) and rs20541 (IL13R130Q) were genotyped in 947 unrelated individuals (307 chronically infected, 339 late-stage with liver fibrosis, 301 uninfected controls) from a schistosomiasis-endemic area of Hubei province in China. Regression models were used to evaluate allelic and haplotypic associations with chronic and late-stage schistosomiasis adjusted for non-genetic covariates. Expression of IL-13 was measured in S. japonicun-infected liver fibrosis tissue and normal liver tissue from uninfected controls by immunohistochemistry (IHC). The role of rs1800925 in IL-13 transcription was further determined by Luciferase report assay using the recombinant PGL4.17-rs180092 plasmid. We found SNP rs1800925T was associated with late-stage schistosomiasis caused by S. japonicum but not chronic schistosomiasis (OR = 1.39, 95%CI = 1.02–1.91, p = 0.03) and uninfected controls (OR = 1.49, 95%CI = 1.03–2.13, p = 0.03). Moreover, the haplotype rs1800925T-rs20541C increased the risk of disease progression to late-stage schistosomiasis (OR = 1.46, p = 0.035), whereas haplotype rs1800925C-rs20541A showed a protective role against development of late-stage schistosomiasis (F = 0.188, OR = 0.61, p = 0.002). Furthermore, S. japonicum-induced fibrotic liver tissue had higher IL13 expression than normal liver tissue. Plasmid PGL4.17-rs1800925T showed a stronger relative luciferase activity than Plasmid PGL4.17-rs1800925C in 293FT, QSG-7701 and HL-7702 cell lines. In conclusion, the functional IL13 polymorphism, rs1800925T, previously associated with risk of schistosomiasis, also contributes to risk of late-stage schistosomiasis caused by S. japonicum.
PMCID: PMC4530950  PMID: 26258681
12.  Disruption of the Transcription Factor Nrf2 Promotes Pro-Oxidative Dendritic Cells That Stimulate Th2-Like Immunoresponsiveness upon Activation by Ambient Particulate Matter 
Oxidative stress is important in dendritic cell (DC) activation. Environmental particulate matter (PM) directs pro-oxidant activities that may alter DC function. Nuclear erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a redox-sensitive transcription factor that regulates expression of antioxidant and detoxification genes. Oxidative stress and defective antioxidant responses may contribute to the exacerbations of asthma. We hypothesized that PM would impart differential responses by Nrf2 wild-type DCs as compared with Nrf2−/− DCs. We found that the deletion of Nrf2 affected important constitutive functions of both bone marrow-derived and highly purified myeloid lung DCs such as the secretion of inflammatory cytokines and their ability to take up exogenous Ag. Stimulation of Nrf2−/− DCs with PM augmented oxidative stress and cytokine production as compared with resting or Nrf2+/+ DCs. This was associated with the enhanced induction of Nrf2-regulated antioxidant genes. In contrast to Nrf2+/+ DCs, coincubation of Nrf2−/− DCs with PM and the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine attenuated PM-induced up-regulation of CD80 and CD86. Our studies indicate a previously underappreciated role of Nrf2 in innate immunity and suggest that deficiency in Nrf2-dependent pathways may be involved in susceptibility to the adverse health effects of air pollution in part by promoting Th2 cytokine responses in the absence of functional Nrf2. Moreover, our studies have uncovered a hierarchal response to oxidative stress in terms of costimulatory molecule expression and cytokine secretion in DCs and suggest an important role of heightened oxidative stress in proallergic Th2-mediated immune responses orchestrated by DCs.
PMCID: PMC3086516  PMID: 18802057
13.  T-Cell Activation under Hypoxic Conditions Enhances IFN-γ Secretion 
Secondary lymphoid organs and peripheral tissues are characterized by hypoxic microenvironments, both in the steady state and during inflammation. Although hypoxia regulates T-cell metabolism and survival, very little is known about whether or how hypoxia influences T-cell activation. We stimulated mouse CD4+ T cells in vitro with antibodies directed against the T-cell receptor (CD3) and CD28 under normoxic (20% O2) and hypoxic (1% O2) conditions. Here we report that stimulation under hypoxic conditions augments the secretion of effector CD4+ T-cell cytokines, especially IFN-γ. The enhancing effects of hypoxia on IFN-γ secretion were independent of mouse strain, and were also unaffected using CD4+ T cells from mice lacking one copy of the gene encoding hypoxia-inducible factor-1α. Using T cells from IFN-γ receptor–deficient mice and promoter reporter studies in transiently transfected Jurkat T cells, we found that the enhancing effects of hypoxia on IFN-γ expression were not due to effects on IFN-γ consumption or proximal promoter activity. In contrast, deletion of the transcription factor, nuclear erythroid 2 p45–related factor 2 attenuated the enhancing effect of hypoxia on IFN-γ secretion and other cytokines. We conclude that hypoxia is a previously underappreciated modulator of effector cytokine secretion in CD4+ T cells.
PMCID: PMC2809218  PMID: 19372249
hypoxia; gene regulation; CD4+ T cells; effector cytokine; IFN-γ
14.  Enhanced Interferon-γ Gene Expression in T Cells and Reduced Ovalbumin-Dependent Lung Eosinophilia in Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1-α-Deficient Mice 
There is growing evidence that hypoxia-inducible transcription factors are involved in the pathophysiology of asthma. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) in particular controls the expression of many hypoxia regulated genes, but whether HIF-1α directly contributes to allergen-driven immune responses is not known.
Partially HIF-1α-deficient mice (HIF-1α+/−) or wild-type littermate controls were used in all experiments. Spleen CD4+ T cells were stimulated with anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28 antibodies and cytokine secretion was measured in vitro. Mice were sensitized by intraperitoneal injection of ovalbumin (Ova) plus alum, and then challenged by intranasal Ova followed by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and isolation of spleen cells. BAL cells were counted and the differential determined using cytospin, and splenocytes were incubated with Ova to measure recall cytokine production.
Interferon-γ secretion was significantly higher in anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28 stimulated CD4+ T cells obtained from HIF-1α+/− mice compared to wild-type controls. HIF-1α+/− mice were protected from lung eosinophilia 72 h after allergen challenge, in association with enhanced secretion of interferon-γ in recall responses of splenocytes.
HIF-1α contributes to allergic immune responses and lung eosinophilia in a mouse model of asthma.
PMCID: PMC2824623  PMID: 19127065
Gene regulation; Transcription Factors; Hypoxia; Asthma mouse model
15.  Resolving lung injury: a new role for Tregs in controlling the innate immune response 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(10):2891-2894.
Inflammation-associated lung injury is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for patients in intensive care units. Although the cellular and molecular events that initiate lung inflammation are now well understood, the mechanisms that promote its resolution remain poorly defined. In this issue of the JCI, D’Alessio et al. show in a mouse model that recovery from acute lung injury is not simply a passive process, but involves Tregs in an active resolution program (see the related article beginning on page 2898).
PMCID: PMC2752113  PMID: 19770510
17.  Regulation of T Cell Motility In Vitro and In Vivo by LPA and LPA2 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101655.
Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and the LPA-generating enzyme autotaxin (ATX) have been implicated in lymphocyte trafficking and the regulation of lymphocyte entry into lymph nodes. High local concentrations of LPA are thought to be present in lymph node high endothelial venules, suggesting a direct influence of LPA on cell migration. However, little is known about the mechanism of action of LPA, and more work is needed to define the expression and function of the six known G protein-coupled receptors (LPA 1–6) in T cells. We studied the effects of 18∶1 and 16∶0 LPA on naïve CD4+ T cell migration and show that LPA induces CD4+ T cell chemorepulsion in a Transwell system, and also improves the quality of non-directed migration on ICAM-1 and CCL21 coated plates. Using intravital two-photon microscopy, lpa2−/− CD4+ T cells display a striking defect in early migratory behavior at HEVs and in lymph nodes. However, later homeostatic recirculation and LPA-directed migration in vitro were unaffected by loss of lpa2. Taken together, these data highlight a previously unsuspected and non-redundant role for LPA2 in intranodal T cell motility, and suggest that specific functions of LPA may be manipulated by targeting T cell LPA receptors.
PMCID: PMC4086949  PMID: 25003200
19.  Sustained Protein Kinase D Activation Mediates Respiratory Syncytial Virus-Induced Airway Barrier Disruption 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(20):11088-11095.
Understanding the regulation of airway epithelial barrier function is a new frontier in asthma and respiratory viral infections. Despite recent progress, little is known about how respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) acts at mucosal sites, and very little is known about its ability to influence airway epithelial barrier function. Here, we studied the effect of RSV infection on the airway epithelial barrier using model epithelia. 16HBE14o- bronchial epithelial cells were grown on Transwell inserts and infected with RSV strain A2. We analyzed (i) epithelial apical junction complex (AJC) function, measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and permeability to fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated dextran, and (ii) AJC structure using immunofluorescent staining. Cells were pretreated or not with protein kinase D (PKD) inhibitors. UV-irradiated RSV served as a negative control. RSV infection led to a significant reduction in TEER and increase in permeability. Additionally it caused disruption of the AJC and remodeling of the apical actin cytoskeleton. Pretreatment with two structurally unrelated PKD inhibitors markedly attenuated RSV-induced effects. RSV induced phosphorylation of the actin binding protein cortactin in a PKD-dependent manner. UV-inactivated RSV had no effect on AJC function or structure. Our results suggest that RSV-induced airway epithelial barrier disruption involves PKD-dependent actin cytoskeletal remodeling, possibly dependent on cortactin activation. Defining the mechanisms by which RSV disrupts epithelial structure and function should enhance our understanding of the association between respiratory viral infections, airway inflammation, and allergen sensitization. Impaired barrier function may open a potential new therapeutic target for RSV-mediated lung diseases.
PMCID: PMC3807305  PMID: 23926335
20.  The Effects of Maternal Exposure to Bisphenol A on Allergic Lung Inflammation into Adulthood 
Toxicological Sciences  2012;130(1):82-93.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a high–production volume chemical classified as an environmental estrogen and used primarily in the plastics industry. BPA’s increased usage correlates with rising BPA levels in people and a corresponding increase in the incidence of asthma. Due to limited studies, the contribution of maternal BPA exposure to allergic asthma pathogenesis is unclear. Using two established mouse models of allergic asthma, we examined whether developmental exposure to BPA alters hallmarks of allergic lung inflammation in adult offspring. Pregnant C57BL/6 dams were gavaged with 0, 0.5, 5, 50, or 500 μg BPA/kg/day from gestational day 6 until postnatal day 21. To induce allergic inflammation, adult offspring were mucosally sensitized with inhaled ovalbumin containing low-dose lipopolysaccharide or ip sensitized using ovalbumin with alum followed by ovalbumin aerosol challenge. In the mucosal sensitization model, female offspring that were maternally exposed to ≥ 50 μg BPA/kg/day displayed enhanced airway lymphocytic and lung inflammation, compared with offspring of control dams. Peritoneally sensitized, female offspring exposed to ≤ 50 μg BPA/kg/day presented dampened lung eosinophilia, compared with vehicle controls. Male offspring did not exhibit these differences in either sensitization model. Our data demonstrate that maternal exposure to BPA has subtle and qualitatively different effects on allergic inflammation, which are critically dependent upon route of allergen sensitization and sex. However, these subtle, yet persistent changes due to developmental exposure to BPA did not lead to significant differences in overall airway responsiveness, suggesting that early life exposure to BPA does not exacerbate allergic inflammation into adulthood.
PMCID: PMC3621363  PMID: 22821851
asthma; plastics; developmental exposure; developmental basis of adult disease
21.  Activation of epidermal toll-like receptor 2 enhances tight junction function – Implications for atopic dermatitis and skin barrier repair 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by epidermal tight junction (TJ) defects and a propensity for Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) skin infections. S. aureus is sensed by many pattern recognition receptors including toll-like receptor (TLR) 2. We hypothesized that an effective innate immune response will include skin barrier repair and that this response is impaired in AD subjects. S. aureus-derived peptidoglycan (PGN) and synthetic TLR2 agonists enhanced TJ barrier and increased expression of TJ proteins, CLDN1, CLDN23, occludin and ZO-1 in primary human keratinocytes. A TLR2 agonist enhanced skin barrier recovery in human epidermis wounded by tape-stripping. Tlr2−/− mice had a delayed and incomplete barrier recovery following tape-stripping. AD subjects had reduced epidermal TLR2 expression as compared to nonatopic (NA) subjects, which inversely correlated (r= 0.654, P= 0.0004) with transepidermal water loss (TEWL). These observations indicate that TLR2 activation enhances skin barrier in murine and human skin and is an important part of a wound repair response. Reduced epidermal TLR2 expression observed in AD patients may play a role in their incompetent skin barrier.
PMCID: PMC3600383  PMID: 23223142
23.  Yin Yang 1 Is a Novel Regulator of Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Rationale: The differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts is a cardinal feature of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The transcription factor Yin Yang 1 (YY1) plays a role in the proliferation and differentiation of diverse cell types, but its role in fibrotic lung diseases is not known.
Objectives: To elucidate the mechanism by which YY1 regulates fibroblast differentiation and lung fibrosis.
Methods: Lung fibroblasts were cultured with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β or tumor necrosis factor-α. Nuclear factor (NF)-κB, YY1, and α-smooth muscle actin (SMA) were determined in protein, mRNA, and promoter reporter level. Lung fibroblasts and lung fibrosis were assessed in a partial YY1-deficient mouse and a YY1f/f conditional knockout mouse after being exposed to silica or bleomycin.
Measurements and Main Results: TGF-β and tumor necrosis factor-α up-regulated YY1 expression in lung fibroblasts. TGF-β–induced YY1 expression was dramatically decreased by an inhibitor of NF-κB, which blocked I-κB degradation. YY1 is significantly overexpressed in both human IPF and murine models of lung fibrosis, including in the aggregated pulmonary fibroblasts of fibrotic foci. Furthermore, the mechanism of fibrogenesis is that YY1 can up-regulate α-SMA expression in pulmonary fibroblasts. YY1-deficient (YY1+/−) mice were significantly protected from lung fibrosis, which was associated with attenuated α-SMA and collagen expression. Finally, decreasing YY1 expression through instilled adenovirus-cre in floxed-YY1f/f mice reduced lung fibrosis.
Conclusions: YY1 is overexpressed in fibroblasts in both human IPF and murine models in a NF-κB–dependent manner, and YY1 regulates fibrogenesis at least in part by increasing α-SMA and collagen expression. Decreasing YY1 expression may provide a new therapeutic strategy for pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3136995  PMID: 21169469
nuclear factor-κB; α-smooth muscle actin; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
24.  The Acute Environment, Rather than T Cell Subset Pre-Commitment, Regulates Expression of the Human T Cell Cytokine Amphiregulin 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39072.
Cytokine expression patterns of T cells can be regulated by pre-commitment to stable effector phenotypes, further modification of moderately stable phenotypes, and quantitative changes in cytokine production in response to acute signals. We showed previously that the epidermal growth factor family member Amphiregulin is expressed by T cell receptor-activated mouse CD4 T cells, particularly Th2 cells, and helps eliminate helminth infection. Here we report a detailed analysis of the regulation of Amphiregulin expression by human T cell subsets. Signaling through the T cell receptor induced Amphiregulin expression by most or all T cell subsets in human peripheral blood, including naive and memory CD4 and CD8 T cells, Th1 and Th2 in vitro T cell lines, and subsets of memory CD4 T cells expressing several different chemokine receptors and cytokines. In these different T cell types, Amphiregulin synthesis was inhibited by an antagonist of protein kinase A, a downstream component of the cAMP signaling pathway, and enhanced by ligands that increased cAMP or directly activated protein kinase A. Prostaglandin E2 and adenosine, natural ligands that stimulate adenylyl cyclase activity, also enhanced Amphiregulin synthesis while reducing synthesis of most other cytokines. Thus, in contrast to mouse T cells, Amphiregulin synthesis by human T cells is regulated more by acute signals than pre-commitment of T cells to a particular cytokine pattern. This may be appropriate for a cytokine more involved in repair than attack functions during most inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3375254  PMID: 22720031
25.  Tight Junction Defects in Atopic Dermatitis 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by dry skin and a hyperreactive immune response to allergens, two cardinal features that are caused in part by epidermal barrier defects. Tight junctions (TJ) reside immediately below the stratum corneum and regulate the selective permeability of the paracellular pathway.
We evaluated the expression/function of the TJ protein, claudin-1 in epithelium from AD and nonatopic (NA) subjects and screened two American populations for SNPs in CLDN1.
Expression profiles of nonlesional epithelium from extrinsic AD, NA and psoriasis subjects were generated using Illumina’s BeadChips. Dysregulated intercellular proteins were validated by tissue staining and qPCR. Bioelectric properties of epithelium were measured in Ussing chambers. Functional relevance of claudin-1 was assessed using a knockdown approach in primary human keratinocytes (PHK). Twenty seven haplotype-tagging SNPs in CLDN1 were screened in two independent AD populations.
We observed strikingly reduced expression of the TJ proteins claudin-1 and -23 only in AD, which were validated at the mRNA and protein levels. Claudin-1 expression inversely correlated with Th2 biomarkers. We observed a remarkable impairment of the bioelectric barrier function in AD epidermis. In vitro, we confirmed that silencing claudin-1 expression in human keratinocytes diminishes TJ function while enhancing keratinocyte proliferation. Finally, CLDN1 haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms revealed associations with AD in two North American populations.
Taken together, these data suggest that an impaired epidermal TJ is a novel feature of skin barrier dysfunction and immune dysregulation observed in AD, and that CLDN1 may be a new susceptibility gene in this disease.
PMCID: PMC3049863  PMID: 21163515
atopic dermatitis; claudin-1; tight junctions

Results 1-25 (34)