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1.  Role of Breast Regression Protein–39 in the Pathogenesis of Cigarette Smoke–Induced Inflammation and Emphysema 
The exaggerated expression of chitinase-like protein YKL-40, the human homologue of breast regression protein–39 (BRP-39), was reported in a number of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the in vivo roles of YKL-40 in normal physiology or in the pathogenesis of specific diseases such as COPD remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that BRP-39/YKL-40 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)–induced emphysema. To test this hypothesis, 10-week-old wild-type and BRP-39 null mutant mice (BRP-39−/−) were exposed to room air (RA) and CS for up to 10 months. The expression of BRP-39 was significantly induced in macrophages, airway epithelial cells, and alveolar Type II cells in the lungs of CS-exposed mice compared with RA-exposed mice, at least in part via an IL-18 signaling–dependent pathway. The null mutation of BRP-39 significantly reduced CS-induced bronchoalveolar lavage and tissue inflammation. However, CS-induced epithelial cell apoptosis and alveolar destruction were further enhanced in the absence of BRP-39. Consistent with these findings in mice, the tissue expression of YKL-40 was significantly increased in the lungs of current smokers compared with the lungs of ex-smokers or nonsmokers. In addition, serum concentrations of YKL-40 were significantly higher in smokers with COPD than in nonsmokers or smokers without COPD. These studies demonstrate a novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in CS-induced inflammation and emphysematous destruction. These studies also underscore that maintaining physiologic concentrations of YKL-40 in the lung is therapeutically important in preventing excessive inflammatory responses or emphysematous alveolar destruction.
PMCID: PMC3135840  PMID: 20656949
YKL-40/BRP-39; COPD; emphysema; cigarette smoke
2.  Endogenous IL-11 Signaling Is Essential in Th2- and IL-13–Induced Inflammation and Mucus Production 
IL-11 and IL-11 receptor (R)α are induced by Th2 cytokines. However, the role(s) of endogenous IL-11 in antigen-induced Th2 inflammation has not been fully defined. We hypothesized that IL-11, signaling via IL-11Rα, plays an important role in aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation and mucus metaplasia. To test this hypothesis, we compared the responses induced by the aeroallergen ovalbumin (OVA) in wild-type (WT) and IL-11Rα–null mutant mice. We also generated and defined the effects of an antagonistic IL-11 mutein on pulmonary Th2 responses. Increased levels of IgE, eosinophilic tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) inflammation, IL-13 production, and increased mucus production and secretion were noted in OVA-sensitized and -challenged WT mice. These responses were at least partially IL-11 dependent because each was decreased in mice with null mutations of IL-11Rα. Importantly, the administration of the IL-11 mutein to OVA-sensitized mice before aerosol antigen challenge also caused a significant decrease in OVA-induced inflammation, mucus responses, and IL-13 production. Intraperitoneal administration of the mutein to lung-specific IL-13–overexpressing transgenic mice also reduced BAL inflammation and airway mucus elaboration. These studies demonstrate that endogenous IL-11R signaling plays an important role in antigen-induced sensitization, eosinophilic inflammation, and airway mucus production. They also demonstrate that Th2 and IL-13 responses can be regulated by interventions that manipulate IL-11 signaling in the murine lung.
PMCID: PMC2586049  PMID: 18617680
IL-11; mutein; airway inflammation; mucus; IL-13
3.  P21 Regulates TGF-β1–Induced Pulmonary Responses via a TNF-α–Signaling Pathway 
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is an essential regulatory cytokine that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse facets of the injury and repair responses in the lung. The types of responses that it elicits can be appreciated in studies from our laboratory that demonstrated that the transgenic (Tg) overexpression of TGF-β1 in the murine lung causes epithelial apoptosis followed by fibrosis, inflammation, and parenchymal destruction. Because a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21, is a key regulator of apoptosis, we hypothesized that p21 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of TGF-β1–induced tissue responses. To test this hypothesis we evaluated the effect of TGF-β1 on the expression of p21 in the murine lung. We also characterized the effects of transgenic TGF-β1 in mice with wild-type and null mutant p21 loci. These studies demonstrate that TGF-β1 is a potent stimulator of p21 expression in the epithelial cells and macrophages in the murine lung. They also demonstrate that TGF-β1–induced lung inflammation, fibrosis, myofibroblast accumulation, and alveolar destruction are augmented in the absence of p21, and that these alterations are associated with exaggerated levels of apoptosis and caspase-3 activation. Finally, our studies further demonstrated that TGF-β1 induces p21 via a TNF-α–signaling pathway and that p21 is a negative modulator of TGF-β1–induced TNF-α expression. Collectively, our studies demonstrate that p21 regulates TGF-β1–induced apoptosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and alveolar remodeling by interacting with TNF-α–signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2258454  PMID: 17932374
TGF-β; p21; apoptosis; fibrosis; emphysema

Results 1-3 (3)