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1.  Airway Fibroblasts in Asthma Manifest an Invasive Phenotype 
Rationale: Invasive cell phenotypes have been demonstrated in malignant transformation, but not in other diseases, such as asthma. Cellular invasiveness is thought to be mediated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). IL-13 is a key TH2 cytokine that directs many features of airway remodeling through TGF-β1 and MMPs.
Objectives: We hypothesized that, in human asthma, IL-13 stimulates increased airway fibroblast invasiveness via TGF-β1 and MMPs in asthma compared with normal controls.
Methods: Fibroblasts were cultured from endobronchial biopsies in 20 subjects with mild asthma (FEV1: 90 ± 3.6% pred) and 17 normal control subjects (FEV1: 102 ± 2.9% pred) who underwent bronchoscopy. Airway fibroblast invasiveness was investigated using Matrigel chambers. IL-13 or IL-13 with TGF-β1 neutralizing antibody or pan-MMP inhibitor (GM6001) was added to the lower chamber as a chemoattractant. Flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry were performed in a subset of subjects to evaluate IL-13 receptor levels.
Measurements and Main Results: IL-13 significantly stimulated invasion in asthmatic airway fibroblasts, compared with normal control subjects. Inhibitors of both TGF-β1 and MMPs blocked IL-13–induced invasion in asthma, but had no effect in normal control subjects. At baseline, in airway tissue, IL-13 receptors were expressed in significantly higher levels in asthma, compared with normal control subjects. In airway fibroblasts, baseline IL-13Rα2 was reduced in asthma compared with normal control subjects.
Conclusions: IL-13 potentiates airway fibroblast invasion through a mechanism involving TGF-β1 and MMPs. IL-13 receptor subunits are differentially expressed in asthma. These effects may result in IL-13–directed airway remodeling in asthma.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201009-1452OC
PMCID: PMC3136991  PMID: 21471104
airway remodeling; interleukin-13; transforming growth factor-β; matrix metalloproteinase
2.  SHP-1 As a Critical Regulator of Mycoplasma pneumoniae-Induced Inflammation in Human Asthmatic Airway Epithelial Cells 
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)  2012;188(7):10.4049/jimmunol.1100573.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease in which airway epithelial cells are the first line of defense against exposure of the airway to infectious agents. Src homology protein (SHP)-1, a protein tyrosine phosphatase, is a negative regulator of signaling pathways that are critical to the development of asthma and host defense. We hypothesize that SHP-1 function is defective in asthma, contributing to the increased inflammatory response induced by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a pathogen known to exacerbate asthma. M. pneumoniae significantly activated SHP-1 in airway epithelial cells collected from nonasthmatic subjects by bronchoscopy with airway brushing but not in cells from asthmatic subjects. In asthmatic airway epithelial cells, M. pneumoniae induced significant PI3K/Akt phosphorylation, NF-κB activation, and IL-8 production compared with nonasthmatic cells, which were reversed by SHP-1 overexpression. Conversely, SHP-1 knockdown significantly increased IL-8 production and PI3K/Akt and NF-κB activation in the setting of M. pneumoniae infection in nonasthmatic cells, but it did not exacerbate these three parameters already activated in asthmatic cells. Thus, SHP-1 plays a critical role in abrogating M. pneumoniae-induced IL-8 production in non-asthmatic airway epithelial cells through inhibition of PI3K/Akt and NF-κB activity, but it is defective in asthma, resulting in an enhanced inflammatory response to infection.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1100573
PMCID: PMC3880785  PMID: 22371396
3.  Alveolar Macrophages from Overweight/Obese Subjects with Asthma Demonstrate a Proinflammatory Phenotype 
Rationale: Obesity is associated with increased prevalence and severity of asthma. Adipose tissue macrophages can contribute to the systemic proinflammatory state associated with obesity. However, it remains unknown whether alveolar macrophages have a unique phenotype in overweight/obese patients with asthma.
Objectives: We hypothesized that leptin levels would be increased in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from overweight/obese subjects and, furthermore, that leptin would alter the response of alveolar macrophages to bacterial LPS.
Methods: Forty-two subjects with asthma and 46 healthy control subjects underwent research bronchoscopy. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from 66 was analyzed for the level of cellular inflammation, cytokines, and soluble leptin. Cultured primary macrophages from 22 subjects were exposed to LPS, leptin, or leptin plus LPS. Cytokines were measured in the supernatants.
Measurements and Main Results: Leptin levels were increased in overweight/obese subjects, regardless of asthma status (P = 0.013), but were significantly higher in overweight/obese subjects with asthma. Observed levels of tumor necrosis factor-α were highest in overweight/obese subjects with asthma. Ex vivo studies of primary alveolar macrophages indicated that the response to LPS was most robust in alveolar macrophages from overweight/obese subjects with asthma and that preexposure to high-dose leptin enhanced the proinflammatory response. Leptin alone was sufficient to induce production of proinflammatory cytokines from macrophages derived from overweight/obese subjects with asthma.
Conclusions: Ex vivo studies indicate that alveolar macrophages derived from overweight/obese subjects with asthma are uniquely sensitive to leptin. This macrophage phenotype, in the context of higher levels of soluble leptin, may contribute to the pathogenesis of airway disease associated with obesity.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201109-1671OC
PMCID: PMC3443798  PMID: 22773729
tumor necrosis factor-α; leptin; innate immunity; lipopolysaccharide; environmental lung disease
4.  Genomic analysis of human lung fibroblasts exposed to vanadium pentoxide to identify candidate genes for occupational bronchitis 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):34.
Background
Exposure to vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) is a cause of occupational bronchitis. We evaluated gene expression profiles in cultured human lung fibroblasts exposed to V2O5 in vitro in order to identify candidate genes that could play a role in inflammation, fibrosis, and repair during the pathogenesis of V2O5-induced bronchitis.
Methods
Normal human lung fibroblasts were exposed to V2O5 in a time course experiment. Gene expression was measured at various time points over a 24 hr period using the Affymetrix Human Genome U133A 2.0 Array. Selected genes that were significantly changed in the microarray experiment were validated by RT-PCR.
Results
V2O5 altered more than 1,400 genes, of which ~300 were induced while >1,100 genes were suppressed. Gene ontology categories (GO) categories unique to induced genes included inflammatory response and immune response, while GO catogories unique to suppressed genes included ubiquitin cycle and cell cycle. A dozen genes were validated by RT-PCR, including growth factors (HBEGF, VEGF, CTGF), chemokines (IL8, CXCL9, CXCL10), oxidative stress response genes (SOD2, PIPOX, OXR1), and DNA-binding proteins (GAS1, STAT1).
Conclusion
Our study identified a variety of genes that could play pivotal roles in inflammation, fibrosis and repair during V2O5-induced bronchitis. The induction of genes that mediate inflammation and immune responses, as well as suppression of genes involved in growth arrest appear to be important to the lung fibrotic reaction to V2O5.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-8-34
PMCID: PMC1865536  PMID: 17459161

Results 1-4 (4)