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1.  A GM-CSF/IL-33 Pathway Facilitates Allergic Airway Responses to Sub-Threshold House Dust Mite Exposure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88714.
Allergic asthma is a chronic immune-inflammatory disease of the airways. Despite aeroallergen exposure being universal, allergic asthma affects only a fraction of individuals. This is likely related, at least in part, to the extent of allergen exposure. Regarding house dust mite (HDM), we previously identified the threshold required to elicit allergic responses in BALB/c mice. Here, we investigated the impact of an initial immune perturbation on the response to sub-threshold HDM exposure. We show that transient GM-CSF expression in the lung facilitated robust eosinophilic inflammation, long-lasting antigen-specific Th2 responses, mucus production and airway hyperresponsiveness. This was associated with increased IL-33 levels and activated CD11b+ DCs expressing OX40L. GM-CSF-driven allergic responses were significantly blunted in IL-33-deficient mice. IL-33 was localized on alveolar type II cells and in vitro stimulation of human epithelial cells with GM-CSF enhanced intracellular IL-33 independently of IL-1α. Likewise, GM-CSF administration in vivo resulted in increased levels of IL-33 but not IL-1α. These findings suggest that exposures to environmental agents associated with GM-CSF production, including airway infections and pollutants, may decrease the threshold of allergen responsiveness and, hence, increase the susceptibility to develop allergic asthma through a GM-CSF/IL-33/OX40L pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088714
PMCID: PMC3925157  PMID: 24551140
2.  Differential expression and function of breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39) in murine models of subacute cigarette smoke exposure and allergic airway inflammation 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):39.
Background
While the presence of the chitinase-like molecule YKL40 has been reported in COPD and asthma, its relevance to inflammatory processes elicited by cigarette smoke and common environmental allergens, such as house dust mite (HDM), is not well understood. The objective of the current study was to assess expression and function of BRP-39, the murine equivalent of YKL40 in a murine model of cigarette smoke-induced inflammation and contrast expression and function to a model of HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation.
Methods
CD1, C57BL/6, and BALB/c mice were room air- or cigarette smoke-exposed for 4 days in a whole-body exposure system. In separate experiments, BALB/c mice were challenged with HDM extract once a day for 10 days. BRP-39 was assessed by ELISA and immunohistochemistry. IL-13, IL-1R1, IL-18, and BRP-39 knock out (KO) mice were utilized to assess the mechanism and relevance of BRP-39 in cigarette smoke- and HDM-induced airway inflammation.
Results
Cigarette smoke exposure elicited a robust induction of BRP-39 but not the catalytically active chitinase, AMCase, in lung epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages of all mouse strains tested. Both BRP-39 and AMCase were increased in lung tissue after HDM exposure. Examining smoke-exposed IL-1R1, IL-18, and IL-13 deficient mice, BRP-39 induction was found to be IL-1 and not IL-18 or IL-13 dependent, while induction of BRP-39 by HDM was independent of IL-1 and IL-13. Despite the importance of BRP-39 in cellular inflammation in HDM-induced airway inflammation, BRP-39 was found to be redundant for cigarette smoke-induced airway inflammation and the adjuvant properties of cigarette smoke.
Conclusions
These data highlight the contrast between the importance of BRP-39 in HDM- and cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. While functionally important in HDM-induced inflammation, BRP-39 is a biomarker of cigarette smoke induced inflammation which is the byproduct of an IL-1 inflammatory pathway.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-39
PMCID: PMC3079621  PMID: 21473774
3.  In Vivo-to-In Silico Iterations to Investigate Aeroallergen-Host Interactions 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2426.
Background
Allergic asthma is a complex process arising out of the interaction between the immune system and aeroallergens. Yet, the relationship between aeroallergen exposure, allergic sensitization and disease remains unclear. This knowledge is essential to gain further insight into the origin and evolution of allergic diseases. The objective of this research is to develop a computational view of the interaction between aeroallergens and the host by investigating the impact of dose and length of aeroallergen exposure on allergic sensitization and allergic disease outcomes, mainly airway inflammation and to a lesser extent lung dysfunction and airway remodeling.
Methods and Principal Findings
BALB/C mice were exposed intranasally to a range of concentrations of the most pervasive aeroallergen worldwide, house dust mite (HDM), for up to a quarter of their lifespan (20 weeks). Actual biological data delineating the kinetics, nature and extent of responses for local (airway inflammation) and systemic (HDM-specific immunoglobulins) events were obtained. Mathematical equations for each outcome were developed, evaluated, refined through several iterations involving in vivo experimentation, and validated. The models accurately predicted the original biological data and simulated an extensive array of previously unknown responses, eliciting two- and three-dimensional models. Our data demonstrate the non-linearity of the relationship between aeroallergen exposure and either allergic sensitization or airway inflammation, identify thresholds, behaviours and maximal responsiveness for each outcome, and examine inter-variable relationships.
Conclusions
This research provides a novel way to visualize allergic responses in vivo and establishes a basic experimental platform upon which additional variables and perturbations can be incorporated into the system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002426
PMCID: PMC2409221  PMID: 18545674
4.  Generation of experimental allergic airways inflammation in the absence of draining lymph nodes 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2001;108(4):577-583.
The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of secondary lymphoid organs in the generation and maintenance of experimental allergic airway inflammation. We employed a previously reported murine model of respiratory mucosal allergic sensitization, induced by repeated aerosolizations of ovalbumin in the context of a GM-CSF airway environment. We executed this protocol in wild-type (WT) and lymphotoxin-α–deficient mice (LTα-KO) mice, which are devoid of lymph nodes (LNs) and possess rudimentary spleen structures. Despite the lack of pulmonary LNs draining the airway compartment, LTα-KO mice were fully capable of mounting a robust inflammatory response in the airways, consisting of Th2 polarized CD4+ T cells and eosinophils. This was accompanied by IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-γ production by splenocytes and generation of ovalbumin-specific serum IgE. Exposure to the same antigen 7 weeks after complete resolution of airway inflammation once again induced a Th2 polarized infiltrate, demonstrating intact immunological memory. To investigate inherent plasticity in establishing antigen-specific immunity, mice were splenectomized before sensitization. Allergic sensitization was completely abrogated in splenectomized LTα-KO mice, compared with eusplenic LTα-KO controls. These data demonstrate that secondary lymphoid organs, either LN or spleen, are essential for the generation of allergic airway responses.
PMCID: PMC209400  PMID: 11518731

Results 1-4 (4)