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1.  Cytokines Alter Glucocorticoid Receptor Phosphorylation in Airway Cells 
Corticosteroid insensitivity (CSI) represents a profound challenge in managing patients with asthma. We recently demonstrated that short exposure of airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs) to proasthmatic cytokines drastically reduced their responsiveness to glucocorticoids (GCs), an effect that was partially mediated via interferon regulatory factor-1, suggesting the involvement of additional mechanisms (Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008;38:463–472). Although GC receptor (GR) can be phosphorylated at multiple serines in the N-terminal region, the major phosphorylation sites critical for GR transcriptional activity are serines 211 (Ser211) and 226 (Ser226). We tested the novel hypothesis that cytokine-induced CSI in ASMCs is due to an impaired GR phosphorylation. Cells were treated with TNF-α (10 ng/ml) and IFN-γ (500 UI/ml) for 6 hours and/or fluticasone (100 nm) added 2 hours before. GR was constitutively phosphorylated at Ser226 but not at Ser211 residues. Cytokines dramatically suppressed fluticasone-induced phosphorylation of GR on Ser211 but not on Ser226 residues while increasing the expression of Ser/Thr protein phosphatase (PP)5 but not that of PP1 or PP2A. Transfection studies using a reporter construct containing GC responsive elements showed that the specific small interfering RNA–induced mRNA knockdown of PP5, but not that of PP1 or PP2A, partially prevented the cytokine suppressive effects on GR-meditated transactivation activity. Similarly, cytokines failed to inhibit GC-induced GR-Ser211 phosphorylation when expression of PP5 was suppressed. We propose that the novel mechanism that proasthmatic cytokine-induced CSI in ASMCs is due, in part, to PP5-mediated impairment of GR-Ser211 phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC3488623  PMID: 22592921
serine/threonine protein phosphatase; airway smooth muscle; asthma; corticosteroid insensitivity; airway remodeling
2.  Glucocorticoid Receptor Interacting Protein-1 Restores Glucocorticoid Responsiveness in Steroid-Resistant Airway Structural Cells 
Glucocorticoid (GC) insensitivity represents a profound challenge in managing patients with asthma. The mutual inhibition of transcriptional activity between GC receptor (GR) and other regulators is one of the mechanisms contributing to GC resistance in asthma. We recently reported that interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1 is a novel transcription factor that promotes GC insensitivity in human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells by interfering with GR signaling (Tliba et al., Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008;38:463–472). Here, we sought to determine whether the inhibition of GR function by IRF-1 involves its interaction with the transcriptional co-regulator GR-interacting protein 1 (GRIP-1), a known GR transcriptional co-activator. We here found that siRNA-mediated GRIP-1 depletion attenuated IRF-1–dependent transcription of the luciferase reporter construct and the mRNA expression of an IRF-1–dependent gene, CD38. In parallel experiments, GRIP-1 silencing significantly reduced GR-mediated transactivation activities. Co-immunoprecipitation and GST pull-down assays showed that GRIP-1, through its repression domain, physically interacts with IRF-1 identifying GRIP-1 as a bona fide transcriptional co-activator for IRF-1. Interestingly, the previously reported inhibition of GR-mediated transactivation activities by either TNF-α and IFN-γ treatment or IRF-1 overexpression was fully reversed by increasing cellular levels of GRIP-1. Together, these data suggest that the cellular accumulation of IRF-1 may represent a potential molecular mechanism mediating altered cellular response to GC through the depletion of GRIP-1 from the GR transcriptional regulatory complexes.
PMCID: PMC2809222  PMID: 19805480
glucocorticoid; cytokine; airway smooth muscle; IRF-1; GRIP-1
3.  Cigarette Smoke Triggers Code Red 
The article by Yao and coworkers in this issue (Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 2008;39:7–18) reveals that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21CIP1/WAF1/SDI1 (designated hereafter as p21), which has been linked to cell cycle growth arrest due to stress or danger cell responses, may modulate alveolar inflammation and alveolar destruction, and thus enlightens our present understanding of how the lung senses injury due to cigarette smoke and integrates these responses with those that activate inflammatory pathways potentially harmful to the lung (1). Furthermore, the interplay of p21 and cellular processes involving cell senescence and the imbalance of cell proliferation/apoptosis may provide us with a more logical explanation of how p21, acting as a sensor of cellular stress, might have such potent and wide roles in lung responses triggered by cigarette smoke. Molecular switches, ontologically designed for the protection of the host, are now hijacked by injurious stresses (such as cigarette smoke), leading to organ damage.
PMCID: PMC2720121  PMID: 18441278
4.  Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase Inhibitor Is a Novel Therapeutic Candidate in Murine Models of Inflammatory Lung Injury 
We previously identified the intracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (iNAMPT, aka pre–B-cell colony enhancing factor) as a candidate gene promoting acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) with circulating nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase potently inducing NF-κB signaling in lung endothelium. iNAMPT also synthesizes intracellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (iNAD) in response to extracellular oxidative stress, contributing to the inhibition of apoptosis via ill-defined mechanisms. We now further define the role of iNAMPT activity in the pathogenesis of ARDS/VILI using the selective iNAMPT inhibitor FK-866. C57/B6 mice were exposed to VILI (40 ml/kg, 4 h) or LPS (1.5 mg/kg, 18 h) after osmotic pump delivery of FK-866 (100 mg/kg/d, intraperitoneally). Assessment of total bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) protein, polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) levels, cytokine levels (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1α), lung iNAD levels, and injury scores revealed that FK-866–mediated iNAMPT inhibition successfully reduced lung tissue iNAD levels, BAL injury indices, inflammatory cell infiltration, and lung injury scores in LPS- and VILI-exposed mice. FK-866 further increased lung PMN apoptosis, as reflected by caspase-3 activation in BAL PMNs. These findings support iNAMPT inhibition via FK-866 as a novel therapeutic agent for ARDS via enhanced apoptosis in inflammatory PMNs.
PMCID: PMC4148034  PMID: 24588101
apoptosis; FK-866; nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase; polymorphonuclear neutrophil; vascular endothelium
5.  miR-326 Is Downstream of Sonic Hedgehog Signaling and Regulates the Expression of Gli2 and Smoothened 
Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is expressed and secreted from the embryonic lung epithelium and acts on the adjacent mesenchymal cells via its receptor Patched (Ptch)/Smoothened (Smo) and transcriptional effectors Gli proteins. Genetic studies showed that the Shh pathway plays critical roles in mouse lung development. However, little is known about microRNAs (miRNAs) downstream of Shh in embryonic lungs. Here we profiled miRNAs in embryonic lung cultures treated with cyclopamine, a specific Smo antagonist or with Smo agonist by next-generation of sequencing. We then performed functional screening to examine whether some of these miRNAs can modulate the induction of Gli-responsive luciferase by Shh treatment. These analyses revealed that expression of miR-326 and its host gene, Arrestin β1, is selectively enriched in embryonic lung mesenchymal cells and is specifically influenced by Shh activity. Furthermore, functional analyses showed that miR-326 acts as a negative modulator for Shh signaling by directly targeting Smo and Gli2. Together, these findings suggest a novel miR-326–negative feedback loop in regulating the activity of Shh signaling.
PMCID: PMC4148035  PMID: 24617895
miR-326; Arrestin β1; Sonic hedgehog; Gli2; the embryonic lung mesenchyme
6.  T Cells and Lung Injury. Impact of Rapamycin 
Acute lung injury (ALI) is characterized by pulmonary inflammation and edema. Innate immune cells (e.g., neutrophils and macrophages) are major contributors to inflammation in ALI. Less is known regarding the role of T cells. We examined the effects of rapamycin on inflammation in a LPS-induced murine model of ALI. Rapamycin was administered before and after initiation of injury. Inflammatory parameters, including bronchoalveolar lavage cell counts, T cell surface markers (i.e., cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 [CTLA4] and fork head-winged helix transcription factor [Foxp3]), T cell activation (CD69), IL-6, and IL-10 were analyzed. Rapamycin significantly decreased inflammatory parameters and decreased Foxp3, CTLA4, and CD69 in CD4+ T cells. Rapamycin administration before or after the onset of lung injury, as well as systemically or by pulmonary routes, ameliorates inflammation in ALI.
PMCID: PMC4148036  PMID: 24641710
T cells; CTLA4; LPS; acute lung injury; rapamycin
7.  Functional Characterization of Polymorphisms in the Peptidase Inhibitor 3 (Elafin) Gene and Validation of Their Contribution to Risk of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome 
Elafin (peptidase inhibitor 3 [PI3]) and its biologically active precursor, pre-elafin, are neutrophil serine proteinase inhibitors with an important role in preventing excessive tissue injury during inflammatory events. Recently, we reported an association between single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2664581 in the PI3 gene, increased risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and pre-elafin circulating levels. This study aims to validate the legitimacy of this association by using a cohort of patients who met the criteria for systemic inflammatory response syndrome and were at risk of developing ARDS (n = 840). A comprehensive functional study of SNPs in PI3 gene was also performed. Luciferase assays and electrophoretic mobility shift assays were conducted to determine the functional relevance of promoter region variants. The effect of the coding SNP rs2664581 on the neutrophil elastase inhibitory activity and transglutaminase binding properties of pre-elafin was also investigated. The variant allele of rs2664581 (C) was significantly associated with increased ARDS risk, mainly among subjects with sepsis (odds ratio = 1.44; 95% confidence interval = 1.04–1.99; P = 0.0276, adjusted by age, sex, and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation III). Pre-elafin recombinant protein carrying the amino acid change associated with rs2664581 (Thr34Pro, mutant protein [MT]) had greater capacity to undergo transglutaminase-mediated cross-linking to immobilized fibronectin than wild-type protein in vitro (P < 0.003). No differences were observed in the neutrophil elastase inhibitory activities of wild-type versus MT proteins. In addition, the risk allele–promoter construct had significantly lower cytokine-induced transcriptional activity. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay results indicated a differential binding of nuclear proteins to the G and A alleles of SNP −338G > A. Our results confirm the association between SNP rs2664581 and enhanced risk of ARDS, further supporting the role of PI3 in ARDS development. SNPs in the PI3 locus may act synergistically by regulating PI3 gene expression and pre-elafin biological functions.
PMCID: PMC4148037  PMID: 24617927
acute respiratory distress syndrome; elafin; single-nucleotide polymorphism; genetic association; replication
8.  Nogo-B Receptor Modulates Angiogenesis Response of Pulmonary Artery Endothelial Cells Through eNOS Coupling 
Nogo-B, a reticulon-4 isoform, modulates the motility and adhesion of vascular endothelial cells after binding to its receptor, Nogo-B receptor (NgBR). Nogo-B/NgBR pathway contributes to vascular remodeling and angiogenesis, but the role of this pathway in the angiogenesis of developing lungs remains unknown. We previously reported that angiogenesis function of pulmonary artery endothelial cells (PAECs) is impaired by increased reactive oxygen species formation in a fetal lamb model of intrauterine pulmonary hypertension (IPH). Here, we report that Nogo-B/NgBR pathway is altered in IPH, and that decreased NgBR expression contributes to impaired angiogenesis in IPH. We observed a decrease in NgBR levels in lysates of whole lung or PAECs from fetal lambs with IPH compared with controls. Overexpression of NgBR in IPH PAECs rescued the in vitro angiogenesis defects and increased the phosphorylation of both Akt and endothelial nitric oxide synthase at serine1179 as well as the levels of both manganese superoxide dismutase and GTP cyclohydrolase-1. Consistent with the phenotype of IPH PAECs, knockdown of NgBR in control PAECs decreased the levels of nitric oxide, increased the levels of reactive oxygen species, and impaired in vitro angiogenesis. Our data demonstrate that NgBR mediates PAEC angiogenesis response through the modulation of Akt/endothelial nitric oxide synthase functions, and its decreased expression is mechanistically linked to IPH-related angiogenesis defects in the developing lungs.
PMCID: PMC4148038  PMID: 24568601
Nogo-B; Nogo-B receptor; intrauterine pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary artery endothelial cells; angiogenesis
9.  Knockout Mice Reveal Key Roles for Claudin 18 in Alveolar Barrier Properties and Fluid Homeostasis 
Claudin proteins are major constituents of epithelial and endothelial tight junctions (TJs) that regulate paracellular permeability to ions and solutes. Claudin 18, a member of the large claudin family, is highly expressed in lung alveolar epithelium. To elucidate the role of claudin 18 in alveolar epithelial barrier function, we generated claudin 18 knockout (C18 KO) mice. C18 KO mice exhibited increased solute permeability and alveolar fluid clearance (AFC) compared with wild-type control mice. Increased AFC in C18 KO mice was associated with increased β-adrenergic receptor signaling together with activation of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, higher epithelial sodium channel, and Na-K-ATPase (Na pump) activity and increased Na-K-ATPase β1 subunit expression. Consistent with in vivo findings, C18 KO alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) monolayers exhibited lower transepithelial electrical resistance and increased solute and ion permeability with unchanged ion selectivity. Claudin 3 and claudin 4 expression was markedly increased in C18 KO mice, whereas claudin 5 expression was unchanged and occludin significantly decreased. Microarray analysis revealed changes in cytoskeleton-associated gene expression in C18 KO mice, consistent with observed F-actin cytoskeletal rearrangement in AEC monolayers. These findings demonstrate a crucial nonredundant role for claudin 18 in the regulation of alveolar epithelial TJ composition and permeability properties. Increased AFC in C18 KO mice identifies a role for claudin 18 in alveolar fluid homeostasis beyond its direct contributions to barrier properties that may, at least in part, compensate for increased permeability.
PMCID: PMC4148039  PMID: 24588076
bioelectrical properties; permeability; alveolar fluid clearance; β2-adrenergic receptor; tight junction
10.  Hyperinsulinemia Potentiates Airway Responsiveness to Parasympathetic Nerve Stimulation in Obese Rats 
Obesity is a substantial risk factor for developing asthma, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this relationship are unclear. We tested the role of insulin in airway responsiveness to nerve stimulation using rats genetically prone or resistant to diet-induced obesity. Airway response to vagus nerve stimulation and airway M2 and M3 muscarinic receptor function were measured in obese-prone and -resistant rats with high or low circulating insulin. The effects of insulin on nerve-mediated human airway smooth muscle contraction and human M2 muscarinic receptor function were tested in vitro. Our data show that increased vagally mediated bronchoconstriction in obesity is associated with hyperinsulinemia and loss of inhibitory M2 muscarinic receptor function on parasympathetic nerves. Obesity did not induce airway inflammation or increase airway wall thickness. Smooth muscle contraction to acetylcholine was not increased, indicating that hyperresponsiveness is mediated at the level of airway nerves. Reducing serum insulin with streptozotocin protected neuronal M2 receptor function and prevented airway hyperresponsiveness to vagus nerve stimulation in obese rats. Replacing insulin restored dysfunction of neuronal M2 receptors and airway hyperresponsiveness to vagus nerve stimulation in streptozotocin-treated obese rats. Treatment with insulin caused loss of M2 receptor function, resulting in airway hyperresponsiveness to vagus nerve stimulation in obese-resistant rats, and inhibited human neuronal M2 receptor function in vitro. This study shows that it is not obesity per se but hyperinsulinemia accompanying obesity that potentiates vagally induced bronchoconstriction by inhibiting neuronal M2 muscarinic receptors and increasing acetylcholine release from airway parasympathetic nerves.
PMCID: PMC4148040  PMID: 24605871
hyperinsulinemia; obesity; asthma; airway responsiveness; neural M2 muscarinic receptor
11.  Prostaglandin E2 Reduces Toll-Like Receptor 4 Expression in Alveolar Macrophages by Inhibition of Translation 
Alveolar macrophages (AMs) represent the first line of innate immune defense in the lung. AMs use pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) to sense pathogens. The best studied PRR is Toll-like receptor (TLR)4, which detects LPS from gram-negative bacteria. The lipid mediator prostaglandin (PG)E2 dampens AM immune responses by inhibiting the signaling events downstream of PRRs. We examined the effect of PGE2 on TLR4 expression in rat AMs. Although PGE2 did not reduce the mRNA levels of TLR4, it decreased TLR4 protein levels. The translation inhibitor cycloheximide reduced TLR4 protein levels with similar kinetics as PGE2, and its effects were not additive with those of the prostanoid, suggesting that PGE2 inhibits TLR at the translational level. The action of PGE2 could be mimicked by the direct stimulator of cAMP formation, forskolin, and involved E prostanoid receptor 2 ligation and cAMP-dependent activation of unanchored type I protein kinase A. Cells pretreated with PGE2 for 24 hours exhibited decreased TNF-α mRNA and protein levels in response to LPS stimulation. Knockdown of TLR4 protein by small interfering RNA to the levels achieved by PGE2 treatment likewise decreased TNF-α mRNA and protein in response to LPS, establishing the functional significance of this PGE2 effect. We provide the first evidence of a lipid mediator acting through its cognate G protein–coupled receptor to affect PRR translation. Because PGE2 is produced in abundance at sites of infection, its inhibitory effects on AM TLR4 expression have important implications for host defense in the lung.
PMCID: PMC4148041  PMID: 24601788
innate immunity; pathogen recognition; lipid mediators
12.  Dihydrotestosterone Potentiates EGF-Induced ERK Activation by Inducing SRC in Fetal Lung Fibroblasts 
Lung maturation is regulated by interactions between mesenchymal and epithelial cells, and is delayed by androgens. Fibroblast–Type II cell communications are dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1/2 activation by the ErbB receptor ligands epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor (TGF)-α, and neuregulin (Nrg). In other tissues, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) has been shown to activate SRC by a novel nontranscriptional mechanism, which phosphorylates EGF receptors to potentiate EGF-induced ERK1/2 activation. This study sought to determine if DHT potentiates EGFR signaling by a nontranscriptional mechanism. Embryonic day (E)17 fetal lung cells were isolated from dams treated with or without DHT since E12. Cells were exposed to 30 ng/ml DHT for periods of 30 minutes to 3 days before being stimulated with 100 ng/ml EGF, TGF-α, or Nrg for up to 30 minutes. Lysates were immunoblotted for ErbB and SRC pathway signaling intermediates. DHT increased ERK1/2 activation by EGF, TGF-α, and Nrg in fibroblasts and Type II cells. Characterization in fibroblasts showed that potentiation of the EGF pathway was significant after 60 minutes of DHT exposure and persisted in the presence of the translational inhibitor cycloheximide. SRC and EGF receptor phosphorylation was increased by DHT, as was EGF-induced SHC1 phosphorylation and subsequent association with GRB2. Finally, SRC silencing, SRC inhibition with PP2, and overexpression of a dominant-negative SRC each prevented DHT from increasing EGF-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation. These results suggest that DHT activates SRC to potentiate the signaling pathway leading from the EGF receptor to ERK activation in primary fetal lung fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC4091851  PMID: 24484548
ErbB; androgens; fibroblasts; MAP kinases
13.  Protective Effects of 10-nitro-oleic Acid in a Hypoxia-Induced Murine Model of Pulmonary Hypertension 
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by adverse remodeling of pulmonary arteries. Although the origin of the disease and its underlying pathophysiology remain incompletely understood, inflammation has been identified as a central mediator of disease progression. Oxidative inflammatory conditions support the formation of electrophilic fatty acid nitroalkene derivatives, which exert potent anti-inflammatory effects. The current study investigated the role of 10-nitro-oleic acid (OA-NO2) in modulating the pathophysiology of PAH in mice. Mice were kept for 28 days under normoxic or hypoxic conditions, and OA-NO2 was infused subcutaneously. Right ventricular systolic pressure (RVPsys) was determined, and right ventricular and lung tissue was analyzed. The effect of OA-NO2 on cultured pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) and macrophages was also investigated. Changes in RVPsys revealed increased pulmonary hypertension in mice on hypoxia, which was significantly decreased by OA-NO2 administration. Right ventricular hypertrophy and fibrosis were also attenuated by OA-NO2 treatment. The infiltration of macrophages and the generation of reactive oxygen species were elevated in lung tissue of mice on hypoxia and were diminished by OA-NO2 treatment. Moreover, OA-NO2 decreased superoxide production of activated macrophages and PASMCs in vitro. Vascular structural remodeling was also limited by OA-NO2. In support of these findings, proliferation and activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 in cultured PASMCs was less pronounced on application of OA-NO2.Our results show that the oleic acid nitroalkene derivative OA-NO2 attenuates hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension in mice. Thus, OA-NO2 represents a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of PAH.
PMCID: PMC4091852  PMID: 24521348
pulmonary arterial hypertension; nitro-fatty acids; inflammation; hypoxia
14.  Arachidonate-Regulated Ca2+ Influx in Human Airway Smooth Muscle 
Plasma membrane Ca2+ influx, especially store-operated Ca2+ entry triggered by sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release, is a key component of intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) regulation in airway smooth muscle (ASM). Agonist-induced Ca2+ oscillations in ASM that involve both influx and SR mechanisms have been previously demonstrated. In nonexcitable cells, [Ca2+]i oscillations involve Ca2+ influx via arachidonic acid (AA) –stimulated channels, which show similarities to store-operated Ca2+ entry, although their molecular identity remains undetermined. Little is known about AA-regulated Ca2+ channels or their regulation in ASM. In enzymatically dissociated human ASM cells loaded with the Ca2+ indicator, fura-2, AA (1–10 μM) triggered [Ca2+]i oscillations that were inhibited by removal of extracellular Ca2+. Other fatty acids, such as the diacylglycerol analog, 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-SN-glycerol, oleic acid, and palmitic acid (10 μM each), failed to elicit similar [Ca2+]i responses. Preincubation with LaCl3 (1 μM or 1 mM) inhibited AA-induced oscillations. Inhibition of receptor-operated channels (SKF96,365 [10 μM]), lipoxygenase (zileuton [10 μM]), or cyclooxygenase (indomethacin [10 μM]) did not affect oscillation parameters. Inhibition of SR Ca2+ release (ryanodine [10 μM] or inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor inhibitor, xestospongin C [1 μM]) decreased [Ca2+]i oscillation frequency and amplitude. Small interfering RNA against caveolin-1, stromal interaction molecule 1, or Orai3 (20 nM each) reduced the frequency and amplitude of AA-induced [Ca2+]i oscillations. In ASM cells derived from individuals with asthma, AA increased oscillation amplitude, but not frequency. These results are highly suggestive of a novel AA-mediated Ca2+–regulatory mechanism in human ASM, reminiscent of agonist-induced oscillations. Given the role of AA in ASM intracellular signaling, especially with inflammation, AA-regulated Ca2+ channels could potentially contribute to increased [Ca2+]i in diseases such asthma.
PMCID: PMC4091853  PMID: 24471656
bronchial smooth muscle; calcium; influx; arachidonic acid; sarcoplasmic reticulum
15.  Proteoglycans Maintain Lung Stability in an Elastase-Treated Mouse Model of Emphysema 
Extracellular matrix remodeling and tissue rupture contribute to the progression of emphysema. Lung tissue elasticity is governed by the tensile stiffness of fibers and the compressive stiffness of proteoglycans. It is not known how proteoglycan remodeling affects tissue stability and destruction in emphysema. The objective of this study was to characterize the role of remodeled proteoglycans in alveolar stability and tissue destruction in emphysema. At 30 days after treatment with porcine pancreatic elastase, mouse lung tissue stiffness and alveolar deformation were evaluated under varying tonicity conditions that affect the stiffness of proteoglycans. Proteoglycans were stained and measured in the alveolar walls. Computational models of alveolar stability and rupture incorporating the mechanical properties of fibers and proteoglycans were developed. Although absolute tissue stiffness was only 24% of normal, changes in relative stiffness and alveolar shape distortion due to changes in tonicity were increased in emphysema (P < 0.01 and P < 0.001). Glycosaminoglycan amount per unit alveolar wall length, which is responsible for proteoglycan stiffness, was higher in emphysema (P < 0.001). Versican expression increased in the tissue, but decorin decreased. Our network model predicted that the rate of tissue deterioration locally governed by mechanical forces was reduced when proteoglycan stiffness was increased. Consequently, this general network model explains why increasing proteoglycan deposition protects the alveolar walls from rupture in emphysema. Our results suggest that the loss of proteoglycans observed in human emphysema contributes to disease progression, whereas treatments that promote proteoglycan deposition in the extracellular matrix should slow the progression of emphysema.
PMCID: PMC4091854  PMID: 24450478
tissue stiffness; alveolar stability; glycosaminoglycan; network model
16.  Tissue Optical Clearing, Three-Dimensional Imaging, and Computer Morphometry in Whole Mouse Lungs and Human Airways 
In whole adult mouse lung, full identification of airway nerves (or other cellular/subcellular objects) has not been possible due to patchy distribution and micron-scale size. Here we describe a method using tissue clearing to acquire the first complete image of three-dimensional (3D) innervation in the lung. We then created a method to pair analysis of nerve (or any other colabeled epitope) images with identification of 3D tissue compartments and airway morphometry by using fluorescent casting and morphometry software (which we designed and are making available as open-source). We then tested our method to quantify a sparse heterogeneous nerve population by examining visceral pleural nerves. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of our method in human tissue to image full thickness innervation in irregular 3D tissue compartments and to quantify sparse objects (intrinsic airway ganglia). Overall, this method can uniquely pair the advantages of whole tissue imaging and cellular/subcellular fluorescence microscopy.
PMCID: PMC4091855  PMID: 24471696
nerve; clearing; modeling; visceral pleura; morphometry
17.  Effects of Anti-G and Anti-F Antibodies on Airway Function after Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract illnesses in infants worldwide. Both RSV-G and RSV-F glycoproteins play pathogenic roles during infection with RSV. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of anti–RSV-G and anti–RSV-F monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) on airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and inflammation after primary or secondary RSV infection in mice. In the primary infection model, mice were infected with RSV at 6 weeks of age. Anti–RSV-G or anti–RSV-F mAbs were administered 24 hours before infection or Day +2 postinfection. In a secondary infection model, mice were infected (primary) with RSV at 1 week (neonate) and reinfected (secondary) 5 weeks later. Anti–RSV-G and anti–RSV-F mAbs were administered 24 hours before the primary infection. Both mAbs had comparable effects in preventing airway responses after primary RSV infection. When given 2 days after infection, anti–RSV-G–treated mice showed significantly decreased AHR and airway inflammation, which persisted in anti–RSV-F–treated mice. In the reinfection model, anti–RSV-G but not anti–RSV-F administered during primary RSV infection in neonates resulted in decreased AHR, eosinophilia, and IL-13 but increased levels of IFN-γ in bronchoalveolar lavage on reinfection. These results support the use of anti–RSV-G in the prevention and treatment of RSV-induced disease.
PMCID: PMC4091856  PMID: 24521403
airway; inflammation; respiratory syncytial virus; anti–respiratory syncytial virus–G; anti–respiratory syncytial virus–F
18.  Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Is a Novel Determinant of Cigarette Smoke–Induced Lung Damage 
Cigarette smoke (CS) is the most common cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), including emphysema. CS exposure impacts all cell types within the airways and lung parenchyma, causing alveolar tissue destruction through four mechanisms: (1) oxidative stress; (2) inflammation; (3) protease-induced degradation of the extracellular matrix; and (4) enhanced alveolar epithelial and endothelial cell (EC) apoptosis. Studies in human pulmonary ECs demonstrate that macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) antagonizes CS-induced apoptosis. Here, we used human microvascular ECs, an animal model of emphysema (mice challenged with chronic CS), and patient serum samples to address both the capacity of CS to alter MIF expression and the effects of MIF on disease severity. We demonstrate significantly reduced serum MIF levels in patients with COPD. In the murine model, chronic CS exposure resulted in decreased MIF mRNA and protein expression in the intact lung. MIF deficiency (Mif−/−) potentiated the toxicity of CS exposure in vivo via increased apoptosis of ECs, resulting in enhanced CS-induced tissue remodeling. This was linked to MIF’s capacity to protect against double-stranded DNA damage and suppress p53 expression. Taken together, MIF appears to antagonize CS-induced toxicity in the lung and resultant emphysematous tissue remodeling by suppressing EC DNA damage and controlling p53-mediated apoptosis, highlighting a critical role of MIF in EC homeostasis within the lung.
PMCID: PMC4091857  PMID: 24490973
macrophage migration inhibitory factor; emphysema; cigarette; endothelial; apoptosis
19.  Persistence of Serotonergic Enhancement of Airway Response in a Model of Childhood Asthma 
The persistence of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and serotonergic enhancement of airway smooth muscle (ASM) contraction induced by ozone (O3) plus allergen has not been evaluated. If this mechanism persists after a prolonged recovery, it would indicate that early-life exposure to O3 plus allergen induces functional changes predisposing allergic individuals to asthma-related symptoms throughout life, even in the absence of environmental insult. A persistent serotonergic mechanism in asthma exacerbations may offer a novel therapeutic target, widening treatment options for patients with asthma. The objective of this study was to determine if previously documented AHR and serotonin-enhanced ASM contraction in allergic monkeys exposed to O3 plus house dust mite allergen (HDMA) persist after prolonged recovery. Infant rhesus monkeys sensitized to HDMA were exposed to filtered air (FA) (n = 6) or HDMA plus O3 (n = 6) for 5 months. Monkeys were then housed in a FA environment for 30 months. At 3 years, airway responsiveness was assessed. Airway rings were then harvested, and ASM contraction was evaluated using electrical field stimulation with and without exogenous serotonin and serotonin-subtype receptor antagonists. Animals exposed to O3 plus HDMA exhibited persistent AHR. Serotonin exacerbated the ASM contraction in the exposure group but not in the FA group. Serotonin subtype receptors 2, 3, and 4 appear to drive the response. Our study shows that AHR and serotonin-dependent exacerbation of cholinergic-mediated ASM contraction induced by early-life exposure to O3 plus allergen persist for at least 2.5 years and may contribute to a persistent asthma phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4091858  PMID: 24484440
serotonin; ozone; antigens; hyperresponsiveness; Macaca mulatta
20.  LPS Modulates Rhinovirus-Induced Chemokine Secretion in Monocytes and Macrophages 
Recent studies suggest that both bacteria and rhinoviruses (RVs) contribute to asthma exacerbations. We hypothesized that bacteria might alter antiviral responses early in the course of infection by modifying monocyte-lineage chemokine responses to RV infection. To test this hypothesis, human blood monocytes or bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) macrophages were treated with RV types A016, B014, A001, and/or A002 in the presence or absence of LPS, and secretion of chemokines (CXCL10, CXCL11, CCL2, and CCL8) and IFN-α was measured by ELISA. Treatment with RV alone induced blood monocytes and BAL macrophages to secrete CXCL10, CXCL11, CCL2, and CCL8. Pretreatment with LPS significantly attenuated RV-induced CXCL10, CXCL11, and CCL8 secretion by 68–99.9% on average (P < 0.0001, P < 0.004, and P < 0.002, respectively), but did not inhibit RV-induced CCL2 from blood monocytes. Similarly, LPS inhibited RV-induced CXCL10 and CXCL11 secretion by over 88% on average from BAL macrophages (P < 0.002 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Furthermore, LPS inhibited RV-induced signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 phosphorylation (P < 0.05), as determined by immunoblotting, yet augmented RV-induced IFN-α secretion (P < 0.05), and did not diminish expression of RV target receptors, as measured by flow cytometry. In summary, major and minor group RVs strongly induce chemokine expression and IFN-α from monocytic cells. The bacterial product, LPS, specifically inhibits monocyte and macrophage secretion of RV-induced CXCL10 and CXCL11, but not other highly induced chemokines or IFN-α. These effects suggest that airway bacteria could modulate the pattern of virus-induced cell recruitment and inflammation in the airways.
PMCID: PMC4091859  PMID: 24498897
rhinovirus; LPS; monocytes; macrophages; chemokines
21.  Nuclear Localization of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-D and Regulation of c-Myc–Dependent Transcripts in Human Lung Fibroblasts 
Lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis are processes that are, in part, regulated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-D. The formation of lymphatic structures has been implicated in multiple lung diseases, including pulmonary fibrosis. VEGF-D is a secreted protein produced by fibroblasts and macrophages, which induces lymphangiogenesis by signaling via VEGF receptor-3, and angiogenesis through VEGF receptor-2. VEGF-D contains a central VEGF homology domain, which is the biologically active domain, with flanking N- and C-terminal propeptides. Full-length VEGF-D (∼ 50 kD) is proteolytically processed in the extracellular space, to generate VEGF homology domain that contains the VEGF-D receptor–binding sites. Here, we report that, independent of its cell surface receptors, full-length VEGF-D accumulated in nuclei of fibroblasts, and that this process appears to increase with cell density. In nuclei, full-length VEGF-D associated with RNA polymerase II and c-Myc. In cells depleted of VEGF-D, the transcriptionally regulated genes appear to be modulated by c-Myc. These findings have potential clinical implications, as VEGF-D was found in fibroblast nuclei in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease characterized by fibroblast proliferation. These findings are consistent with actions of full-length VEGF-D in cellular homeostasis in health and disease, independent of its receptors.
PMCID: PMC4091860  PMID: 24450584
vascular endothelial growth factor-D; nuclei; fibroblast; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; c-Myc
22.  Prevention of Ventilator-Induced Lung Edema by Inhalation of Nanoparticles Releasing Ruthenium Red 
The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a devastating lung disease that has no cure, is exacerbated by life-supportive mechanical ventilation that worsens lung edema and inflammation through the syndrome of ventilator-induced lung injury. Recently, the membrane ion channel transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) on alveolar macrophages was shown to mediate murine lung vascular permeability induced by high-pressure mechanical ventilation. The objective of this study was to determine whether inhalation of nanoparticles (NPs) containing the TRPV4 inhibitor ruthenium red (RR) prevents ventilator-induced lung edema in mice. Poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid NPs containing RR were evaluated in vitro for their ability to block TRPV4-mediated calcium signaling in alveolar macrophages and capillary endothelial cells. Lungs from adult C57BL6 mice treated with nebulized NPs were then used in ex vivo ventilation perfusion experiments to assess the ability of the NPs to prevent high-pressure mechanical ventilation–induced lung edema. Poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid NPs (300 nm) released RR for 150 hours in vitro, and blocked TRPV4-mediated calcium signaling in cells up to 7 days after phagocytosis. Inhaled NPs deposited in alveoli of spontaneously breathing mice were rapidly phagocytosed by alveolar macrophages, and blocked increased vascular permeability from high-pressure mechanical ventilation for 72 hours in ex vivo ventilation perfusion experiments. These data offer proof of principle that inhalation of NPs containing a TRPV4 inhibitor prevents ventilator damage for several days, and imply that this novel drug delivery strategy could be used to target alveolar macrophages in patients at risk of ventilator-induced lung injury before initiating mechanical ventilation.
PMCID: PMC4068911  PMID: 24405281
acute respiratory distress syndrome; ventilator-induced lung injury; TRPV4; ex vivo ventilation perfusion; inhalation
23.  Endothelin-1 Induces a Glycolytic Switch in Pulmonary Arterial Endothelial Cells via the Mitochondrial Translocation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase 
Recent studies have indicated that, during the development of pulmonary hypertension (PH), there is a switch from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis in the pulmonary endothelium. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not been elucidated. Endothelin (ET)-1, an endothelial-derived vasoconstrictor peptide, is increased in PH, and has been shown to play an important role in the oxidative stress associated with PH. Thus, in this study, we investigated whether there was a potential link between increases in ET-1 and mitochondrial remodeling. Our data indicate that ET-1 induces the redistribution of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) from the plasma membrane to the mitochondria in pulmonary arterial endothelial cells, and that this was dependent on eNOS uncoupling. We also found that ET-1 disturbed carnitine metabolism, resulting in the attenuation of mitochondrial bioenergetics. However, ATP levels were unchanged due to a compensatory increase in glycolysis. Further mechanistic investigations demonstrated that ET-1 mediated the redistribution of eNOS via the phosphorylation of eNOS at Thr495 by protein kinase C δ. In addition, the glycolytic switch appeared to be dependent on mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species that led to the activation of hypoxia-inducible factor signaling. Finally, the cell culture data were confirmed in vivo using the monocrotaline rat model of PH. Thus, we conclude that ET-1 induces a glycolytic switch in pulmonary arterial endothelial cells via the redistribution of uncoupled eNOS to the mitochondria, and that preventing this event may be an approach for the treatment of PH.
PMCID: PMC4068912  PMID: 24392990
mitochondrial bioenergetics; endothelial nitric oxide synthase uncoupling; protein kinase C δ; peroxynitrite; superoxide
24.  Modulation of Airway Epithelial Antiviral Immunity by Fungal Exposure 
Multiple pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, have been frequently found in asthmatic airways and are associated with the pathogenesis and exacerbation of asthma. Among these pathogens, Alternaria alternata (Alt), a universally present fungus, and human rhinovirus have been extensively studied. However, their interactions have not been investigated. In the present study, we tested the effect of Alt exposure on virus-induced airway epithelial immunity using live virus and a synthetic viral mimicker, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Alt treatment was found to significantly enhance the production of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-6 and IL-8) induced by virus infection or dsRNA treatment. In contrast to this synergistic effect, Alt significantly repressed type I and type III IFN production, and this impairment led to elevated viral replication. Mechanistic studies suggested the positive role of NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in the synergism and the attenuation of the TBK1-IRF3 pathway in the inhibition of IFN production. These opposite effects are caused by separate fungal components. Protease-dependent and -independent mechanisms appear to be involved. Thus, Alt exposure alters the airway epithelial immunity to viral infection by shifting toward more inflammatory but less antiviral responses.
PMCID: PMC4068913  PMID: 24428709
Toll-like receptor 3; antiviral; epithelium; Alternaria; rhinovirus
25.  IL-1α Reversibly Inhibits Skeletal Muscle Ryanodine Receptor. A Novel Mechanism for Critical Illness Myopathy? 
Critical illness myopathies in patients with sepsis or sustained mechanical ventilation prolong intensive care treatment and threaten both patients and health budgets; no specific therapy is available. Underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are still patchy. We characterized IL-1α action on muscle performance in “skinned” muscle fibers using force transducers and confocal Ca2+ fluorescence microscopy for force/Ca2+ transients and Ca2+ sparks. Association of IL-1α with sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) release channel, ryanodine receptor (RyR) 1, was investigated with coimmunoprecipitation and confocal immunofluorescence colocalization. Membrane integrity was studied in single, intact fibers challenged with IL-1α. IL-1α reversibly stabilized Mg2+ inhibition of Ca2+ release. Low Mg2+–induced force and Ca2+ transients were reversibly abolished by IL-1α. At normal Mg2+, IL-1α reversibly increased caffeine-induced force and Ca2+ transients. IL-1α reduced SR Ca2+ leak via RyR1, as judged by (1) increased SR Ca2+ retention, (2) increased IL-1α force transients being reproduced by 25 μM tetracaine, and (3) reduced Ca2+ spark frequencies by IL-1α or tetracaine. Coimmunoprecipitation confirmed RyR1/IL-1 association. RyR1/IL-1 immunofluorescence patterns perfectly colocalized. Long-term, 8-hour IL-1α challenge of intact muscle fibers compromised membrane integrity in approximately 50% of fibers, and confirmed intracellular IL-1α deposition. IL-1α exerts a novel, specific, and reversible interaction mechanism with the skeletal muscle RyR1 macromolecular release complex without the need to act via its membrane IL-1 receptor, as IL-1R membrane expression levels were not detectable in Western blots or immunostaining of single fibers. We present a potential explanation of how the inflammatory mediator, IL-1α, may contribute to muscle weakness in critical illness.
PMCID: PMC4068910  PMID: 24400695
cytokines; IL-1; ryanodine receptor 1; Ca2+ regulation; critical illness myopathy

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