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1.  An RGS4-Mediated Phenotypic Switch of Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells Promotes Fixed Airway Obstruction in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28504.
In severe asthma, bronchodilator- and steroid-insensitive airflow obstruction develops through unknown mechanisms characterized by increased lung airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and stiffness. We explored the role of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling protein (RGS4) in the ASM hyperplasia and reduced contractile capacity characteristic of advanced asthma. Using immunocytochemical staining, ASM expression of RGS4 was determined in endobronchial biopsies from healthy subjects and those from subjects with mild, moderate and severe asthma. Cell proliferation assays, agonist-induced calcium mobilization and bronchoconstriction were determined in cultured human ASM cells and in human precision cut lung slices. Using gain- and loss-of-function approaches, the precise role of RGS proteins was determined in stimulating human ASM proliferation and inhibiting bronchoconstriction. RGS4 expression was restricted to a subpopulation of ASM and was specifically upregulated by mitogens, which induced a hyperproliferative and hypocontractile ASM phenotype similar to that observed in recalcitrant asthma. RGS4 expression was markedly increased in bronchial smooth muscle of patients with severe asthma, and expression correlated significantly with reduced pulmonary function. Whereas RGS4 inhibited G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated bronchoconstriction, unexpectedly RGS4 was required for PDGF-induced proliferation and sustained activation of PI3K, a mitogenic signaling molecule that regulates ASM proliferation. These studies indicate that increased RGS4 expression promotes a phenotypic switch of ASM, evoking irreversible airway obstruction in subjects with severe asthma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028504
PMCID: PMC3257220  PMID: 22253691
2.  20-HETE Mediates Ozone-Induced, Neutrophil-Independent Airway Hyper-Responsiveness in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10235.
Background
Ozone, a pollutant known to induce airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), increases morbidity and mortality in patients with obstructive airway diseases and asthma. We postulate oxidized lipids mediate in vivo ozone-induced AHR in murine airways.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Male BALB/c mice were exposed to ozone (3 or 6 ppm) or filtered air (controls) for 2 h. Precision cut lung slices (PCLS; 250 µm thickness) containing an intrapulmonary airway (∼0.01 mm2 lumen area) were prepared immediately after exposure or 16 h later. After 24 h, airways were contracted to carbachol (CCh). Log EC50 and Emax values were then calculated by measuring the airway lumen area with respect to baseline. In parallel studies, dexamethasone (2.5 mg/kg), or 1-aminobenzotriazol (ABT) (50 mg/kg) were given intraperitoneal injection to naïve mice 18 h prior to ozone exposure. Indomethacin (10 mg/kg) was administered 2 h prior. Cell counts, cytokine levels and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) for lipid analysis were assessed in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from ozone exposed and control mice. Ozone acutely induced AHR to CCh. Dexamethasone or indomethacin had little effect on the ozone-induced AHR; while, ABT, a cytochrome P450 inhibitor, markedly attenuated airway sensitivity. BAL fluid from ozone exposed animals, which did not contain an increase in neutrophils or interleukin (IL)-6 levels, increased airway sensitivity following in vitro incubation with a naïve PCLS. In parallel, significant increases in oxidized lipids were also identified using LC-MS with increases of 20-HETE that were decreased following ABT treatment.
Conclusions/Significance
These data show that ozone acutely induces AHR to CCh independent of inflammation and is insensitive to steroid treatment or cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition. BAL fluid from ozone exposed mice mimicked the effects of in vivo ozone exposure that were associated with marked increases in oxidized lipids. 20-HETE plays a pivotal role in mediating acute ozone-induced AHR.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010235
PMCID: PMC2857875  PMID: 20422032

Results 1-2 (2)