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1.  IL-9 Governs Allergen-induced Mast Cell Numbers in the Lung and Chronic Remodeling of the Airways 
Rationale
IL-9 is a pleiotropic cytokine that has multiple effects on structural as well as numerous hematopoietic cells, which are central to the pathogenesis of asthma.
Objectives
The contribution of IL-9 to asthma pathogenesis has thus far been unclear, due to conflicting reports in the literature. These earlier studies focused on the role of IL-9 in acute inflammatory models; here we have investigated the effects of IL-9 blockade during chronic allergic inflammation.
Methods
Mice were exposed to either prolonged ovalbumin or house dust mite allergen challenge to induce chronic inflammation and airway remodeling.
Measurements and Main Results
We found that IL-9 governs allergen-induced mast cell (MC) numbers in the lung and has pronounced effects on chronic allergic inflammation. Anti–IL-9 antibody–treated mice were protected from airway remodeling with a concomitant reduction in mature MC numbers and activation, in addition to decreased expression of the profibrotic mediators transforming growth factor-β1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor-2 in the lung. Airway remodeling was associated with impaired lung function in the peripheral airways and this was reversed by IL-9 neutralization. In human asthmatic lung tissue, we identified MCs as the main IL-9 receptor expressing population and found them to be sources of vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2.
Conclusions
Our data suggest an important role for an IL-9-MC axis in the pathology associated with chronic asthma and demonstrate that an impact on this axis could lead to a reduction in chronic inflammation and improved lung function in patients with asthma.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200909-1462OC
PMCID: PMC3385369  PMID: 20971830
IL-9; mast cells; asthma; airway remodeling; AHR
2.  Overexpression of Smad2 Drives House Dust Mite–mediated Airway Remodeling and Airway Hyperresponsiveness via Activin and IL-25 
Rationale: Airway hyperreactivity and remodeling are characteristic features of asthma. Interactions between the airway epithelium and environmental allergens are believed to be important in driving development of pathology, particularly because altered epithelial gene expression is common in individuals with asthma.
Objectives: To investigate the interactions between a modified airway epithelium and a common aeroallergen in vivo.
Methods: We used an adenoviral vector to generate mice overexpressing the transforming growth factor-β signaling molecule, Smad2, in the airway epithelium and exposed them to house dust mite (HDM) extract intranasally.
Measurements and Main Results: Smad2 overexpression resulted in enhanced airway hyperreactivity after allergen challenge concomitant with changes in airway remodeling. Subepithelial collagen deposition was increased and smooth muscle hyperplasia was evident resulting in thickening of the airway smooth muscle layer. However, there was no increase in airway inflammation in mice given the Smad2 vector compared with the control vector. Enhanced airway hyperreactivity and remodeling did not correlate with elevated levels of Th2 cytokines, such as IL-13 or IL-4. However, mice overexpressing Smad2 in the airway epithelium showed significantly enhanced levels of IL-25 and activin A after HDM exposure. Blocking activin A with a neutralizing antibody prevented the increase in lung IL-25 and inhibited subsequent collagen deposition and also the enhanced airway hyperreactivity observed in the Smad2 overexpressing HDM-exposed mice.
Conclusions: Epithelial overexpression of Smad2 can specifically alter airway hyperreactivity and remodeling in response to an aeroallergen. Moreover, we have identified novel roles for IL-25 and activin A in driving airway hyperreactivity and remodeling.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200905-0725OC
PMCID: PMC2913231  PMID: 20339149
asthma; lung; epithelium; smooth muscle; collagen
3.  Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP)-4 and BMP-7 regulate differentially Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-β1 in normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF) 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):85.
Background
Airway remodelling is thought to be under the control of a complex group of molecules belonging to the Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-superfamily. The Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) belong to this family and have been shown to regulate fibrosis in kidney and liver diseases. However, the role of BMPs in lung remodelling remains unclear. BMPs may regulate tissue remodelling in asthma by controlling TGF-β-induced profibrotic functions in lung fibroblasts.
Methods
Cell cultures were exposed to TGF-β1 alone or in the presence of BMP-4 or BMP-7; control cultures were exposed to medium only. Cell proliferation was assessed by quantification of the incorporation of [3H]-thymidine. The expression of the mRNA encoding collagen type I and IV, tenascin C and fibronectin in normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF) was determined by real-time quantitative PCR and the main results were confirmed by ELISA. Cell differentiation was determined by the analysis of the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) by western blot and immunohistochemistry. The effect on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity was assessed by zymography.
Results
We have demonstrated TGF-β1 induced upregulation of mRNAs encoding the extracellular matrix proteins, tenascin C, fibronectin and collagen type I and IV when compared to unstimulated NHLF, and confirmed these results at the protein level. BMP-4, but not BMP-7, reduced TGF-β1-induced extracellular matrix protein production. TGF-β1 induced an increase in the activity of the pro-form of MMP-2 which was inhibited by BMP-7 but not BMP-4. Both BMP-4 and BMP-7 downregulated TGF-β1-induced MMP-13 release compared to untreated and TGF-β1-treated cells. TGF-β1 also induced a myofibroblast-like transformation which was partially inhibited by BMP-7 but not BMP-4.
Conclusions
Our study suggests that some regulatory properties of BMP-7 may be tissue or cell type specific and unveil a potential regulatory role for BMP-4 in the regulation of lung fibroblast function.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-11-85
PMCID: PMC2898775  PMID: 20573231

Results 1-3 (3)