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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.  IL-1α/IL-1R1 Expression in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Mechanistic Relevance to Smoke-Induced Neutrophilia in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28457.
Background
Cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite this, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to COPD pathogenesis are still poorly understood.
Methodology and Principal Findings
The objective of this study was to assess IL-1 α and β expression in COPD patients and to investigate their respective roles in perpetuating cigarette smoke-induced inflammation. Functional studies were pursued in smoke-exposed mice using gene-deficient animals, as well as blocking antibodies for IL-1α and β. Here, we demonstrate an underappreciated role for IL-1α expression in COPD. While a strong correlation existed between IL-1α and β levels in patients during stable disease and periods of exacerbation, neutrophilic inflammation was shown to be IL-1α-dependent, and IL-1β- and caspase-1-independent in a murine model of cigarette smoke exposure. As IL-1α was predominantly expressed by hematopoietic cells in COPD patients and in mice exposed to cigarette smoke, studies pursued in bone marrow chimeric mice demonstrated that the crosstalk between IL-1α+ hematopoietic cells and the IL-1R1+ epithelial cells regulates smoke-induced inflammation. IL-1α/IL-1R1-dependent activation of the airway epithelium also led to exacerbated inflammatory responses in H1N1 influenza virus infected smoke-exposed mice, a previously reported model of COPD exacerbation.
Conclusions and Significance
This study provides compelling evidence that IL-1α is central to the initiation of smoke-induced neutrophilic inflammation and suggests that IL-1α/IL-1R1 targeted therapies may be relevant for limiting inflammation and exacerbations in COPD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028457
PMCID: PMC3232226  PMID: 22163019
3.  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 1-3 (3)