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1.  Plasminogen Activation–Induced Pericellular Fibronectin Proteolysis Promotes Fibroblast Apoptosis 
Apoptosis of fibroblasts/myofibroblasts is a critical event in the resolution of tissue repair responses; however, mechanisms for the regulation of (myo)fibroblast apoptosis/survival remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate counter-regulatory interactions between the plasminogen activation system and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) in the control of fibroblast apoptosis. Plasmin treatment induced fibroblast apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner in association with proteolytic degradation of extracellular matrix proteins, as detected by the release of soluble fibronectin peptides. Plasminogen, which was activated to plasmin by fibroblasts, also induced fibronectin proteolysis and fibroblast apoptosis, both of which were blocked by α2-antiplasmin but not by inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase activity. TGF-β1 protected fibroblasts from apoptosis induced by plasminogen but not from apoptosis induced by exogenous plasmin. The protection from plasminogen-induced apoptosis conferred by TGF-β1 is associated with the up-regulation of plasminogen activator-1 (PAI-1) expression and inhibition of plasminogen activation. Moreover, lung fibroblasts from mice genetically deficient in PAI-1 lose the protective effect of TGF-β1 against plasminogen-induced apoptosis. These findings support a novel role for the plasminogen activation system in the regulation of fibroblast apoptosis and a potential role of TGF-β1/PAI-1 in promoting (myo)fibroblast survival in chronic fibrotic disorders.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0174OC
PMCID: PMC2176129  PMID: 17656680
myofibroblast; fibrosis; transforming growth factor-β; anoikis; plasminogen activator inhibitor 1
2.  Post-Infection A77-1726 Blocks Pathophysiologic Sequelae of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
Despite respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis remaining the most common cause of lower respiratory tract disease in infants worldwide, treatment has progressed little in the past 30 years. The aim of our study was to determine whether post-infection administration of de novo pyrimidine synthesis inhibitors could prevent the reduction in alveolar fluid clearance (AFC) and hypoxemia that occurs at Day 2 after intranasal infection of BALB/c mice with RSV. BALB/c mice were infected intranasally with RSV strain A2. AFC was measured in anesthetized, ventilated mice after instillation of 5% bovine serum albumin into the dependent lung. Post-infection systemic treatment with leflunomide has no effect on AFC. However, when added to the AFC instillate, leflunomide's active metabolite, A77-1726, blocks RSV-mediated inhibition of AFC at Day 2. This block is reversed by uridine (which allows pyrimidine synthesis via the scavenger pathway) and not recapitulated by genistein (which mimics the tyrosine kinase inhibitor effects of A77-1726), indicating that the effect is specific for the de novo pyrimidine synthesis pathway. More importantly, when administered intranasally at Day 1, A77-1726, but not its vehicle dimethyl sulfoxide, maintains its beneficial effect on AFC and lung water content until Day 2. Intranasal instillation of A77-1726 at Day 1 also reduces bronchoalveolar lavage nucleotide levels, lung inflammation, and hypoxemia at Day 2 without impairing viral replication at Day 2 or viral clearance at Day 8. Post-infection intranasal or aerosolized treatment with pyrimidine synthesis inhibitors may provide symptomatic relief from the pathophysiologic sequelae of impaired AFC in children with RSV bronchiolitis.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0142OC
PMCID: PMC2084468  PMID: 17541010
paramyxovirus; leflunomide; dihydroorotate dehydrogenase; pulmonary edema
3.  Cyclooxygenase-2 Deficiency Exacerbates Bleomycin-Induced Lung Dysfunction but Not Fibrosis 
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived eicosanoids have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Uncertainty regarding the influence of COX-2 on experimental pulmonary fibrosis prompted us to clarify the fibrotic and functional effects of intratracheal bleomycin administration in mice genetically deficient in COX-2. Further, the effects of airway-specific COX-1 overexpression on fibrotic and functional outcomes in wild-type and COX-2 knockout mice were assessed. Equivalent increases in airway cell influx, lung collagen content, and histopathologic evidence of fibrosis were observed in wild-type and COX-2 knockout mice 21 d after bleomycin treatment, suggesting that COX-2 deficiency did not alter the extent or severity of fibrosis in this model. However, bleomycin-induced alterations in respiratory mechanics were more severe in COX-2 knockout mice than in wild-type mice, as illustrated by a greater decrease in static compliance compared with genotype-matched, saline-treated control mice (26 ± 3% versus 11 ± 4% decreases for COX-2 knockout and wild-type mice, respectively; P < 0.05). The influence of COX-1 overexpression in airway Clara cells was also examined. Whereas the fibrotic effects of bleomycin were not altered in wild-type or COX-2 knockout mice overexpressing COX-1, the exaggerated lung function decrement in bleomycin-treated COX-2 knockout mice was prevented by COX-1 overexpression and coincided with decreased airway cysteinyl leukotriene levels. Collectively, these data suggest an important regulatory role for COX-2 in the maintenance of lung function in the setting of lung fibrosis, but not in the progression of the fibrotic process per se.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0057OC
PMCID: PMC1994226  PMID: 17496151
cyclooxygenase; fibrosis; respiratory mechanics; prostaglandin; transgenic
4.  Regulation of Bcl-xL Expression in Lung Vascular Smooth Muscle 
Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by thickened pulmonary arterial walls due to increased number of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC). Apoptosis of PASMC may play an important role in regulating the PASMC number and may be useful for reducing pulmonary vascular thickening. The present study examined the regulation of an anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL. Bcl-xL expression was found to be increased in the pulmonary artery of chronic hypoxia–treated rats with pulmonary vascular remodeling. Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of Bcl-xL indeed showed that this protein has anti-apoptotic activities in PASMC. Treatment of remodeled pulmonary artery with sodium nitroprusside (SNP) reduced Bcl-xL expression by targeting the bcl-xL promoter. The bcl-xL promoter contains two GATA elements, and SNP decreases the GATA-4 DNA-binding activity. Overexpression of GATA-4 attenuated the SNP-mediated suppression of Bcl-xL expression, providing direct evidence for the role of GATA-4 in Bcl-xL gene transcription. We established that SNP targets the 250 proximal region of the gata4 promoter and suppresses its gene transcription. Thus, inducers of pulmonary hypertension enhance anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL gene transcription, which can be suppressed by targeting gata4 gene transcription.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2006-0359OC
PMCID: PMC1868666  PMID: 17272823
apoptosis; genes; pulmonary hypertension; smooth muscle
5.  Plasminogen Activation–Induced Pericellular Fibronectin Proteolysis Promotes Fibroblast Apoptosis 
Apoptosis of fibroblasts/myofibroblasts is a critical event in the resolution of tissue repair responses; however, mechanisms for the regulation of (myo)fibroblast apoptosis/survival remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate counter-regulatory interactions between the plasminogen activation system and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) in the control of fibroblast apoptosis. Plasmin treatment induced fibroblast apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner in association with proteolytic degradation of extracellular matrix proteins, as detected by the release of soluble fibronectin peptides. Plasminogen, which was activated to plasmin by fibroblasts, also induced fibronectin proteolysis and fibroblast apoptosis, both of which were blocked by α2-antiplasmin but not by inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase activity. TGF-β1 protected fibroblasts from apoptosis induced by plasminogen but not from apoptosis induced by exogenous plasmin. The protection from plasminogen-induced apoptosis conferred by TGF-β1 is associated with the up-regulation of plasminogen activator-1 (PAI-1) expression and inhibition of plasminogen activation. Moreover, lung fibroblasts from mice genetically deficient in PAI-1 lose the protective effect of TGF-β1 against plasminogen-induced apoptosis. These findings support a novel role for the plasminogen activation system in the regulation of fibroblast apoptosis and a potential role of TGF-β1/PAI-1 in promoting (myo)fibroblast survival in chronic fibrotic disorders.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0174OC
PMCID: PMC2176129  PMID: 17656680
myofibroblast; fibrosis; transforming growth factor-β; anoikis; plasminogen activator inhibitor 1
6.  Cyclooxygenase-2 deficiency exacerbates bleomycin-induced lung dysfunction but not fibrosis 
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived eicosanoids have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Uncertainty regarding the influence of COX-2 on experimental pulmonary fibrosis prompted us to clarify the fibrotic and functional effects of intratracheal bleomycin administration in mice genetically deficient in COX-2. Further, the effects of airway-specific COX-1 overexpression on fibrotic and functional outcomes in wild type and COX-2 knockout mice were assessed. Equivalent increases in airway cell influx, lung collagen content and histopathological evidence of fibrosis were observed in wild type and COX-2 knockout mice 21 days following bleomycin treatment, suggesting that COX-2 deficiency did not alter the extent or severity of fibrosis in this model. However, bleomycin- induced alterations in respiratory mechanics were more severe in COX-2 knockout mice than in wild type mice as illustrated by a greater decrease in static compliance compared to genotype- matched, saline-treated control mice (26 ± 3% vs. 11 ± 4% decreases for COX-2 knockout and wild type mice, respectively; p<0.05). The influence of COX-1 overexpression in airway Clara cells was also examined. Whereas the fibrotic effects of bleomycin were not altered in wild type or COX-2 knockout mice overexpressing COX-1, the exaggerated lung function decrement in bleomycin-treated COX-2 knockout mice was prevented by COX-1 overexpression and coincided with decreased airway cysteinyl leukotriene levels. Collectively, these data suggest an important regulatory role for COX-2 in the maintenance of lung function in the setting of lung fibrosis, but not in the progression of the fibrotic process per se.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0057OC
PMCID: PMC1994226  PMID: 17496151
cyclooxygenase; fibrosis; respiratory mechanics; prostaglandin; transgenic
7.  Post infection A77-1726 blocks pathophysiologic sequelae of respiratory syncytial virus infection 
Despite respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis remaining the most common cause of lower respiratory tract disease in infants worldwide, treatment has progressed little in the past 30 years.
To determine whether postinfection administration of de novo pyrimidine synthesis inhibitors could prevent the reduction in alveolar fluid clearance (AFC) and hypoxemia that occurs at day 2 following intranasal infection of BALB/c mice with RSV.
BALB/c mice were infected intranasally with RSV strain A2. AFC was measured in anesthetized, ventilated mice following instillation of 5% BSA into the dependent lung.
Post-infection systemic treatment with leflunomide has no effect on AFC. However, when added to the AFC instillate, leflunomide’s active metabolite, A77-1726, blocks RSV-mediated inhibition of AFC at day 2. This block is reversed by uridine (which allows pyrimidine synthesis via the scavenger pathway) and not recapitulated by genistein (which mimics the tyrosine kinase inhibitor effects of A77-1726), indicating that the effect is specific for the de novo pyrimidine synthesis pathway. More importantly, when administered intranasally at day 1, A77-1726, but not its vehicle DMSO, maintains its beneficial effect on AFC and lung water content until day 2. Intranasal instillation of A77-1726 at day 1 also reduces BAL nucleotide levels, lung inflammation, and hypoxemia at day 2 without impairing viral replication at day 2 or viral clearance at day 8.
Post-infection intranasal or aerosolized treatment with pyrimidine synthesis inhibitors may provide symptomatic relief from the pathophysiologic sequelae of impaired AFC in children with RSV bronchiolitis.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0142OC
PMCID: PMC2084468  PMID: 17541010
Paramyxovirus; leflunomide; dihydroorotate dehydrogenase; pulmonary edema
8.  Regulation of Bcl-xL expression in lung vascular smooth muscle 
Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by thickened pulmonary arterial walls due to increased number of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC). Apoptosis of PASMC may play important roles in regulating the PASMC number and may be useful for reducing pulmonary vascular thickening. The present study examined the regulation of an anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL. Bcl-xL expression was found to be increased in the pulmonary artery of chronic hypoxia treated rats with pulmonary vascular remodeling. Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of Bcl-xL indeed showed that this protein has anti-apoptotic activities in PASMC. Treatment of remodeled pulmonary artery with sodium nitroprusside (SNP) reduced Bcl-xL expression by targeting the bcl-xL promoter. The bcl-xL promoter contains two GATA elements, and SNP decreases the GATA-4 DNA binding activity. Overexpression of GATA-4 attenuated the SNP-mediated suppression of Bcl-xL expression, providing direct evidence for the role of GATA-4 in Bcl-xL gene transcription. We identified that SNP targets the 250 proximal region of the gata4 promoter and suppresses its gene transcription. Thus, inducers of pulmonary hypertension enhance anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL gene transcription, which can be suppressed by targeting the gata4 gene transcription.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2006-0359OC
PMCID: PMC1868666  PMID: 17272823
Apoptosis; Genes; Pulmonary hypertension; Smooth muscle
9.  Haemophilus influenzae Lysate Induces Aspects of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Phenotype 
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) commonly colonizes the lower airways of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whether it contributes to COPD progression is unknown. Here, we determined which aspects of the COPD phenotype can be induced by repetitive exposure to NTHi products. Mice were exposed weekly to an aerosolized NTHi lysate, and inflammation was evaluated by measurement of cells and cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and immunohistochemical staining; structural changes were evaluated histochemically by periodic acid fluorescent Schiff's reagent, Masson's trichrome, and Picrosirius red staining; mucin gene expression was measured by quantitative RT-PCR; and the role of TNF-α was examined by transgenic airway overexpression and use of an inhibitory antibody. NTHi lysate induced rapid activation of NF-κB in airway cells and increases of inflammatory cytokines and neutrophils in BALF. Repetitive exposure induced infiltration of macrophages, CD8+ T cells, and B cells around airways and blood vessels, and collagen deposition in airway and alveolar walls, but airway mucin staining and gel-forming mucin transcripts were not increased. Transgenic overexpression of TNF-α caused BALF neutrophilia and inflammatory cell infiltration around airways, but not fibrosis, and TNF-α neutralization did not reduce BALF neutrophilia in response to NTHi lysate. In conclusion, NTHi products elicit airway inflammation in mice with a cellular and cytokine profile similar to that in COPD, and cause airway wall fibrosis but not mucous metaplasia. TNF-α is neither required for inflammatory cell recruitment nor sufficient for airway fibrosis. Colonization by NTHi may contribute to the pathogenesis of small airways disease in patients with COPD.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0366OC
PMCID: PMC2396243  PMID: 18096867
pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; Haemophilus influenzae; bronchiolitis; inflammation; fibrosis
10.  Basal Cells of Differentiated Bronchial Epithelium Are More Susceptible to Rhinovirus Infection 
We used an in vitro model of differentiated tracheobronchial epithelium to analyze the susceptibility of different cell types to infection with rhinoviruses (RVs). Primary cells from control subjects were cultured in an air–liquid interface to form differentiated epithelia. Suprabasal and basal fractions were separated after trypsin digestion, and cell suspensions were infected with serotypes RV16 and RV1A. These cell fractions were analyzed for expression of viral capsid protein VP2 (flow cytometry), viral replication (real-time PCR), cytokeratin-14, and intercellular adhesion molecule–1 (ICAM-1). Compared with suprabasal fraction, basal cells had increased percentages of cells staining positive for VP2 (RV1A: 37.8% versus 9.1%, P < 0.01; RV16: 12.0 versus 3.0%, P < 0.05). The average number of viral RNA copies per cell was also higher in basal cells (2.2- and 2.4-fold increase in RV1A- and RV16-infected cells, respectively) compared with suprabasal cells. Furthermore, ICAM-1 was expressed by 33.3% of basal cells, compared with 8.1% of suprabasal cells (P < 0.05). Finally, in culture models of epithelial injury (detached suprabasal cells or scratched surface), there was significantly greater replication of RV1A compared with intact cell layer. These findings demonstrate that basal cells are more susceptible to RV infection than suprabasal cells. For major group RV, this may be in part due to increased expression of ICAM-1; however, minor group RV also replicated more effectively in basal cells. These results suggest the possibility that epithelial cell differentiation is associated with the maturation of antiviral defense mechanisms.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0050OC
PMCID: PMC2358970  PMID: 18063839
airway epithelium; basal cells; rhinovirus; ICAM-1 expression
11.  Nickel Alterations of TLR2-Dependent Chemokine Profiles in Lung Fibroblasts Are Mediated by COX-2 
Particulate matter air pollution (PM) has been linked with chronic respiratory diseases. Real-life exposures are likely to involve a mixture of chemical and microbial stimuli, yet little attention has been paid to the potential interactions between PM components (e.g., Ni) and microbial agents on the development of inflammatory-like conditions in the lung. Using the Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 agonist MALP-2 as a lipopeptide relevant to microbial colonization, we hypothesized that nickel sensitizes human lung fibroblasts (HLF) for microbial-driven chemokine release through modulation of TLR signaling pathways. NiSO4 (200 μM) synergistically enhanced CXCL8, yet antagonized CXCL10 mRNA expression and protein release from HLF in response to MALP-2. RT2-PCR pathway-focused array results indicated that NiSO4 exposure did not alter the expression of TLRs or their downstream signaling mediators, yet significantly increased the expression of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2). Moreover, when NiSO4 was given in combination with MALP-2, there was an amplified induction of COX-2 mRNA and protein along with its metabolic product, PGE2, in HLF. The COX-2 inhibitor, NS-398, attenuated NiSO4 and MALP-2–induced PGE2 and CXCL8 release and partially reversed the NiSO4-dependent inhibition of MALP-2–induced CXCL10 release from HLF. These data indicate that NiSO4 alters the pattern of TLR-2–dependent chemokine release from HLF via a COX-2–mediated pathway. The quantitative and qualitative effects of NiSO4 on microbial-driven chemokine release from HLF shed new light on how PM-derived metals can exacerbate respiratory diseases.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0314OC
PMCID: PMC2335339  PMID: 18096868
COX-2; nickel; inflammation; chemokines; fibroblasts
12.  Sequential Exposure to Carbon Nanotubes and Bacteria Enhances Pulmonary Inflammation and Infectivity 
Carbon nanotubes (CNT), with their applications in industry and medicine, may lead to new risks to human health. CNT induce a robust pulmonary inflammation and oxidative stress in rodents. Realistic exposures to CNT may occur in conjunction with other pathogenic impacts (microbial infections) and trigger enhanced responses. We evaluated interactions between pharyngeal aspiration of single-walled CNT (SWCNT) and bacterial pulmonary infection of C57BL/6 mice with Listeria monocytogenes (LM). Mice were given SWCNT (0, 10, and 40 μg/mouse) and 3 days later were exposed to LM (103 bacteria/mouse). Sequential exposure to SWCNT/LM amplified lung inflammation and collagen formation. Despite this robust inflammatory response, SWCNT pre-exposure significantly decreased the pulmonary clearance of LM-exposed mice measured 3 to 7 days after microbial infection versus PBS/LM-treated mice. Decreased bacterial clearance in SWCNT-pre-exposed mice was associated with decreased phagocytosis of bacteria by macrophages and a decrease in nitric oxide production by these phagocytes. Pre-incubation of naïve alveolar macrophages with SWCNT in vitro also resulted in decreased nitric oxide generation and suppressed phagocytizing activity toward LM. Failure of SWCNT-exposed mice to clear LM led to a continued elevation in nearly all major chemokines and acute phase cytokines into the later course of infection. In SWCNT/LM-exposed mice, bronchoalveolar lavage neutrophils, alveolar macrophages, and lymphocytes, as well as lactate dehydrogenase level, were increased compared with mice exposed to SWCNT or LM alone. In conclusion, enhanced acute inflammation and pulmonary injury with delayed bacterial clearance after SWCNT exposure may lead to increased susceptibility to lung infection in exposed populations.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0255OC
PMCID: PMC2335338  PMID: 18096873
nanoparticles; infection; inflammation; lung disease; pulmonary injury
13.  Alveolar Dynamics during Respiration 
The change in alveolar size and number during the full breathing cycle in mammals remains unanswered, yet these descriptors are fundamental for understanding alveolar-based diseases and for improving ventilator management. Genetic and environmental mouse models are used increasingly to evaluate the evolution of disease in the peripheral lung; however, little is known regarding alveolar structure and function in the fresh, intact lung. Therefore, we have developed an optical confocal process to evaluate alveolar dynamics in the fresh intact mouse lung and as an initial experiment, have evaluated mouse alveolar dynamics during a single respiratory cycle immediately after passive lung deflation. We observe that alveoli become smaller and more numerous at the end of inspiration, and propose that this is direct evidence for alveolar recruitment in the mouse lung. The findings reported support a new hypothesis that requires recruitable secondary (daughter) alveoli to inflate via primary (mother) alveoli rather than from a conducting airway.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0120OC
PMCID: PMC2335337  PMID: 18096874
alveolar recruitment; mechanics; mouse lung; confocal microscopy; collateral ventilation
14.  STAT3 Regulates ABCA3 Expression and Influences Lamellar Body Formation in Alveolar Type II Cells 
ATP-Binding Cassette A3 (ABCA3) is a lamellar body associated lipid transport protein required for normal synthesis and storage of pulmonary surfactant in type II cells in the alveoli. In this study, we demonstrate that STAT3, activated by IL-6, regulates ABCA3 expression in vivo and in vitro. ABCA3 mRNA and immunostaining were decreased in adult mouse lungs in which STAT3 was deleted from the respiratory epithelium (Stat3Δ/Δ mice). Consistent with the role of STAT3, intratracheal IL-6 induced ABCA3 expression in vivo. Decreased ABCA3 and abnormalities in the formation of lamellar bodies, the intracellular site of surfactant lipid storage, were observed in Stat3Δ/Δ mice. Expression of SREBP1a and 1c, SCAP, ABCA3, and AKT mRNAs was inhibited by deletion of Stat3 in type II cells isolated from Stat3Δ/Δ mice. The activities of PI3K and AKT were required for normal Abca3 gene expression in vitro. AKT activation induced SREBP expression and increased the activity of the Abca3 promoter in vitro, consistent with the role of STAT3 signaling, at least in part via SREBP, in the regulation of ABCA3. ABCA3 expression is regulated by IL-6 in a pathway that includes STAT3, PI3K, AKT, SCAP, and SREBP. Activation of STAT3 after exposure to IL-6 enhances ABCA3 expression, which, in turn, influences pulmonary surfactant homeostasis.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0311OC
PMCID: PMC2335336  PMID: 18096869
STAT3; ABCA3; IL-6; gene regulation; surfactant; hyperoxia
15.  Effects of Albuterol Isomers on the Contraction and Ca2+ Signaling of Small Airways in Mouse Lung Slices 
The β2-adrenergic agonist, albuterol, is used as a bronchodilator by patients with asthma and consists of a racemic mixture of (R)- and (S)-albuterol. However, the action of the individual enantiomers is poorly understood. Consequently, we investigated the effects of (R)-, (S)- and racemic-albuterol on airway smooth muscle cell (SMC) contraction and Ca2+ signaling in mouse lung slices with phase-contrast and confocal microscopy. (R)-albuterol relaxed airways contracted with methacholine (MCh) in a dose-dependent manner. By contrast, (S)-albuterol had no effect on airways. (R)-albuterol had a greater relaxant effect than a double concentration of racemic albuterol. Because MCh-induced contraction of airway SMCs is mediated by Ca2+ oscillations and an increase in Ca2+ sensitivity, the effects of albuterol on these responses were examined. Both (R)- and racemic albuterol decreased the frequency of the MCh-induced Ca2+ oscillations by a similar amount. However, (R)-albuterol was more effective than racemic albuterol in decreasing the Ca2+ sensitivity of the airway SMCs in “model” lung slices with a clamped [Ca2+]i. In contrast, (S)-albuterol had no effect on the Ca2+ oscillations or the Ca2+ sensitivity. In conclusion, (R)-albuterol consistently induced a greater airway relaxation than racemic albuterol, and (S)-albuterol appears to be responsible for this reduced efficacy.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0214OC
PMCID: PMC2335335  PMID: 18063837
hyper-reactivity; β2-agonist; relaxation; Ca2+ oscillations; Ca2+ sensitivity
16.  Lung Lining Fluid Glutathione Attenuates IL-13–Induced Asthma 
GGTenu1 mice, deficient in γ-glutamyl transferase and unable to metabolize extracellular glutathione, develop intracellular glutathione deficiency and oxidant stress. We used intratracheal IL-13 to induce airway inflammation and asthma in wild-type (WT) and GGTenu1 mice to determine the effect of altered glutathione metabolism on bronchial asthma. WT and GGTenu1 mice developed similar degrees of lung inflammation. In contrast, IL-13 induced airway epithelial cell mucous cell hyperplasia, mucin and mucin-related gene expression, epidermal growth factor receptor mRNA, and epidermal growth factor receptor activation along with airway hyperreactivity in WT mice but not in GGTenu1 mice. Lung lining fluid (extracellular) glutathione was 10-fold greater in GGTenu1 than in WT lungs, providing increased buffering of inflammation-associated reactive oxygen species. Pharmacologic inhibition of GGT in WT mice produced similar effects, suggesting that the lung lining fluid glutathione protects against epithelial cell induction of asthma. Inhibiting GGT activity in lung lining fluid may represent a novel therapeutic approach for preventing and treating asthma.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0128OC
PMCID: PMC2335334  PMID: 18063838
glutathione; lung lining fluid; asthma
17.  Estrogen Determines Sex Differences in Airway Responsiveness after Allergen Exposure 
The female hormone estrogen is an important factor in the regulation of airway function and inflammation, and sex differences in the prevalence of asthma are well described. Using an animal model, we determined how sex differences may underlie the development of altered airway function in response to allergen exposure. We compared sex differences in the development of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) after allergen exposure exclusively via the airways. Ovalbumin (OVA) was administered by nebulization on 10 consecutive days in BALB/c mice. After methacholine challenge, significant AHR developed in male mice but not in female mice. Ovariectomized female mice showed significant AHR after 10-day OVA inhalation. ICI182,780, an estrogen antagonist, similarly enhanced airway responsiveness even when administered 1 hour before assay. In contrast, 17β-estradiol dose-dependently suppressed AHR in male mice. In all cases, airway responsiveness was inhibited by the administration of a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist. These results demonstrate that sex differences in 10-day OVA-induced AHR are due to endogenous estrogen, which negatively regulates airway responsiveness in female mice. Cumulatively, the results suggest that endogenous estrogen may regulate the neurokinin 1–dependent prejunctional activation of airway smooth muscle in allergen-exposed mice.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0298OC
PMCID: PMC2335333  PMID: 18063836
estrogen; sex; airway hyperresponsiveness; EFS; neuronal activation
18.  Pulmonary Microvascular Endothelial Cells Form a Tighter Monolayer when Grown in Chronic Hypoxia 
Unique among the vascular beds, loss of endothelial integrity in the pulmonary microcirculation due to injury can lead to rapidly fatal hypoxemia. The ability to regain confluence and re-establish barrier function is central to restoring proper gas exchange. The adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a heterogeneous disease, however, meaning that endothelial cells within different regions of the lung do not likely see the same oxygen tension as they attempt to proliferate and re-establish an intact endothelial monolayer; the effect of hypoxia on the integrity of this newly formed endothelial monolayer is not clear. Immortalized human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (PMVEC) (ST1.6R cells) were sparsely plated and grown to confluence over 4 days in either normoxia (21% oxygen) or hypoxia (5% oxygen). Confluence attained in a hypoxic environment resulted in a tighter, less permeable endothelial monolayer (as determined by an increase in transendothelial electrical resistance, decreased permeability to fluorescently labeled macromolecules, and decreased hydraulic conductance). PMVEC grown to confluence under hypoxia had decreased RhoA activity; consistent with this finding, inhibition of Rho kinase, a well-described downstream target of RhoA, markedly increased electrical resistance in normoxic, but not hypoxic, PMVEC. These results were confirmed in primary human and rat PMVEC. These data suggest that PMVEC grown to confluence under hypoxia form a tighter monolayer than similar cells grown under normoxia. This tighter barrier appears to be due, in part, to the inhibition of RhoA activity in hypoxic cells.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0127OC
PMCID: PMC2274951  PMID: 18048805
human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells; hypoxia; permeability; RhoA/Rho kinase
19.  Glucocorticoid Regulation of Human Pulmonary Surfactant Protein-B mRNA Stability Involves the 3′-Untranslated Region 
Expression of pulmonary surfactant, a complex mixture of lipids and proteins that acts to reduce alveolar surface tension, is developmentally regulated and restricted to lung alveolar type II cells. The hydrophobic protein surfactant protein-B (SP-B) is essential in surfactant function, and insufficient levels of SP-B result in severe respiratory dysfunction. Glucocorticoids accelerate fetal lung maturity and surfactant synthesis both experimentally and clinically. Glucocorticoids act transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally to increase steady-state levels of human SP-B mRNA; however, the mechanism(s) by which glucocorticoids act post-transcriptionally is unknown. We hypothesized that glucocorticoids act post-transcriptionally to increase SP-B mRNA stability via sequence-specific mRNA–protein interactions. We found that glucocorticoids increase SP-B mRNA stability in isolated human type II cells and in nonpulmonary cells, but do not alter mouse SP-B mRNA stability in a mouse type II cell line. Deletion analysis of an artificially-expressed SP-B mRNA indicates that the SP-B mRNA 3′-untranslated region (UTR) is necessary for stabilization, and the region involved can be restricted to a 126-nucleotide-long region near the SP-B coding sequence. RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assays indicate that cytosolic proteins bind to this region in the absence or presence of glucocorticoids. The formation of mRNA:protein complexes is not seen in other regions of the SP-B mRNA 3′-UTR. These results indicate that a specific 126-nucleotide region of human SP-B 3′-UTR is necessary for increased SP-B mRNA stability by glucocorticoids by a mechanism that is not lung cell specific and may involve mRNA–protein interactions.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0303OC
PMCID: PMC2274950  PMID: 18006875
surfactant; SP-B; glucocorticoid; mRNA stability; 3′-untranslated region
20.  Cytokines Induce an Early Steroid Resistance in Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
We have previously shown that long-term treatment of airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells with a combination of TNF-α and IFN-γ impaired steroid anti-inflammatory action through the up-regulation of glucocorticoid receptor beta isoform (GRβ) (Mol Pharmacol 2006;69:588–596). We here found that steroid actions could also be suppressed by short-term exposure of ASM cells to TNF-α and IFN-γ (6 h) as shown by the abrogated glucocorticoid responsive element (GRE)-dependent gene transcription; surprisingly, neither GRα nuclear translocation nor GRβ expression was affected by cytokine mixture. The earlier induction of CD38, a molecule recently involved in asthma, seen with TNF-α and IFN-γ combination but not with cytokine alone, was also completely insensitive to steroid pretreatment. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation (IP) and siRNA strategies revealed not only increased binding of interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) transcription factor to CD38 promoter, but also its implication in regulating CD38 gene transcription. Interestingly, the capacity of fluticasone to completely inhibit TNF-α–induced IRF-1 expression, IRF-1 DNA binding, and transactivation activities was completely lost in cells exposed to TNF-α and IFN-γ in combination. This early steroid dysfunction seen with cytokine combination could be reproduced by enhancing IRF-1 cellular levels using constitutively active IRF-1, which dose-dependently inhibited GRE-dependent gene transcription. Consistently, reducing IRF-1 cellular levels using siRNA approach significantly restored steroid transactivation activities. Collectively, our findings demonstrate for the first time that IRF-1 is a novel alternative GRβ-independent mechanism mediating steroid dysfunction induced by pro-asthmatic cytokines, in part via the suppression of GRα activities.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0226OC
PMCID: PMC2274949  PMID: 17947510
transcription factor; glucocorticoid; inflammation; asthma; mesenchymal cells
21.  Cytokine Profiles in Primary and Secondary Pulmonary Granulomas of Guinea Pigs with Tuberculosis 
The cytokine mRNA profiles of primary (arising from inhaled bacilli) and secondary (arising from hematogenous reseeding of the lung) granulomas from the lung lobes of bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG)-vaccinated and unimmunized guinea pigs challenged with virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis by the pulmonary route were assessed in situ using laser capture microdissection (LCM) at 6 weeks after infection. The challenge dose chosen was so low that some lung lobes did not receive an implant from the airway. In unimmunized guinea pigs, some lobes contained either large, necrotic primary lesions or small, non-necrotic secondary lesions, or both. The lobes of BCG-vaccinated animals contained only non-necrotic primary tubercles, and no secondary lesions were visible. Real-time PCR analysis of the acquired RNA clearly demonstrated that primary tubercles from BCG-vaccinated guinea pigs were overwhelmed with mRNA from the anti-inflammatory cytokine, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, with some IFN-γ and IL-12p40 mRNA. In contrast, primary lesions from unimmunized animals were dominated by proinflammatory TNF-α mRNA. The cytokine mRNA profile of secondary lesions from unimmunized animals was strikingly similar to the profile of primary lesions from BCG-vaccinated guinea pigs (i.e., a predominance of TGF-β mRNA with some IL-12p40 and IFN-γ mRNA), indicating that the lung lobes from which these lesions were retrieved had been naturally “vaccinated” by the time the bloodborne bacilli returned to the lung at 3 to 4 weeks after infection. Furthermore, cytokine mRNA analysis of splenic granulomas from nonvaccinated and vaccinated animals showed close resemblance to primary granulomas recovered from the lungs of the same animal, that is, high levels of TNF-α mRNA in unimmunized animals, and mostly TGF-β mRNA in BCG-vaccinated guinea pigs. Taken together, these data indicate that mycobacteria returning to the lungs of unimmunized guinea pigs 3 to 4 weeks after infection induce a local cytokine response that is fundamentally different from the response to inhaled bacilli and is reminiscent of the primary response in a vaccinated animal.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0326OC
PMCID: PMC2274948  PMID: 18032570
guinea pig; vaccine; tuberculosis; granuloma; cytokine
22.  Acrolein-Activated Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 Contributes to Persistent Mucin Production 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a global public health problem, is characterized by progressive difficulty in breathing, with increased mucin production, especially in the small airways. Acrolein, a constituent of cigarette smoke and an endogenous mediator of oxidative stress, increases airway mucin 5, subtypes A and C (MUC5AC) production; however, the mechanism remains unclear. In this study, increased mMUC5AC transcripts and protein were associated with increased lung matrix metalloproteinase 9 (mMMP9) transcripts, protein, and activity in acrolein-exposed mice. Increased mMUC5AC transcripts and mucin protein were diminished in gene-targeted Mmp9 mice [Mmp9(-/-)] or in mice treated with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor, erlotinib. Acrolein also decreased mTissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase protein 3 (an MMP9 inhibitor) transcript levels. In a cell-free system, acrolein increased pro-hMMP9 cleavage and activity in concentrations (100–300 nM) found in sputum from subjects with COPD. Acrolein increased hMMP9 transcripts in human airway cells, which was inhibited by an MMP inhibitor, EGFR-neutralizing antibody, or a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) 3/2 inhibitor. Together these findings indicate that acrolein can initiate cleavage of pro-hMMP9 and EGFR/MAPK signaling that leads to additional MMP9 formation. Augmentation of hMMP9 activity, in turn, could contribute to persistent excessive mucin production.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2006-0339OC
PMCID: PMC2274947  PMID: 18006877
mucus; COPD; matrix metalloproteinase; cigarette smoke; oxidative stress
23.  Modelling Dysregulated Na+ Absorption in Airway Epithelial Cells with Mucosal Nystatin Treatment 
In cystic fibrosis (CF), the absence of functional CFTR leads to dysregulated Na+ absorption across airway epithelia. We established an in vitro model of dysregulated Na+ absorption by treating polarized normal human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEs) with nystatin (Nys), a polyene antibiotic that enables monovalent cations to permeate biological membranes. Acute mucosal Nys produced a rapid increase in short circuit current (Isc) that reflected increased transepithelial Na+ absorption and required Na+/K+ATPase activity. The acute increase in Isc was associated with increased mucosal liquid absorption. Prolonged mucosal Nys treatment resulted in sustained Na+ hyperabsorption, associated with increased mucosal liquid absorption in comparison with naïve (nontreated, kept under air–liquid interface conditions) or vehicle-treated cultures. Nys treatment was not toxic. Increased lactate accumulation in Nys-treated culture media suggested a higher metabolic rate associated with the higher energy demand for Na+ transport. After chronic Nys treatment, the increased Isc was rapidly lost when the cultures were mounted in Ussing chambers, indicating that Nys could be rapidly removed from the apical membrane. Importantly, chronic Nys treatment promoted sustained mucosal liquid depletion and caused mucus dehydration, compaction, and adhesion to the apical surface of Nys-treated cultures. We conclude that mucosal Nys treatment of HBEs provides a simple in vitro model to recapitulate the Na+ and volume hyperabsorptive features of CF airway epithelia.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0177OC
PMCID: PMC2274946  PMID: 17989361
nystatin; Na+ hyperabsorption; airway surface liquid dehydration; mucus adherence; cystic fibrosis
24.  FcγRIII Is Protective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa Pneumonia 
Defenses against bacterial infections involve activation of multiple systems of innate immunity, including complement, Toll-like receptors, and defensins. Reactions to chronic infections bring adaptive immune mechanisms into play as well, with the introduction of modulatory interactions between the two. In humans with chronic lung infections, the severity of inflammation and disease correlate with elevated levels of pathogen-specific immune complexes and complement activation. In mice with genetic deficiency in C5, or targeted deletion of the C5a receptor, Pseudomonas lung infections reveal a role for the C5a anaphylatoxin in disease severity. Deficient animals exhibit significantly reduced survival and clearance of infecting bacteria, simultaneous with greatly increased pulmonary influx of inflammatory cells. Among the actions of C5a on inflammatory cells mediated through the C5a receptor is a shift in the relative expression of Fcγ receptors to increase FcγRIII relative to FcγRII. This shift may significantly impact defenses against chronic infection, reflecting the cellular activation profiles of these IgG receptors. We addressed the role of FcγRIII in defense against Pseudomonas lung infection, and found that, like C5aR-deficient mice, animals with targeted deletion of FcγRIII are more susceptible to mortality upon infection and exhibit reduced clearance of the pathogen. Pseudomonas infection was associated with an increase in the FcγRIII/FcγRII ratio in wild-type mice, and the data support its role as an additional mechanism of host defense against bacterial infection.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0309OC
PMCID: PMC2274945  PMID: 17975174
Fcγ; receptors; host defense; bacterial infection; Pseudomonas; pneumonia
25.  Impaired Lung Homeostasis in Neonatal Mice Exposed to Cigarette Smoke 
In infants, smoke exposure is associated with more respiratory illnesses and decreased lung function. We hypothesized that perinatal lung is particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of cigarette smoke (CS) and that exposure to CS during this period may alter expression of immune response genes and adversely affect lung growth. To test this, we exposed neonatal mice to 14 days of CS. Immediately after exposure to CS, pulmonary gene expression profiling was performed on 2-week-old CS-exposed lung and age-matched control lung. Nitrotyrosine, TUNEL, MAC3, and phospho-SMAD-2 (p-SMAD2) staining was also performed. At 8 weeks of age, lung volume measurements were determined and mean linear intercept measurements were calculated. Pulmonary gene expression profiling revealed that CS exposure significantly inhibited type 1 and type 2 interferon pathway genes in neonatal lung, compared with age-matched control lung. Neonatal CS-exposed lung also had a significant increase in n-tyrosine, TUNEL, and p-SMAD2 staining when compared with adult CS-exposed lung and age-matched control lung. Lung volumes at 8 weeks of age were modestly but significantly decreased in mice exposed to CS in the neonatal period compared with age-matched controls, consistent with impaired lung growth. The results of this study indicate that exposure to CS during the neonatal period inhibits expression of genes involved in innate immunity and mildly impairs postnatal lung growth. These findings may in part explain the increased incidence of respiratory symptoms in infants and children exposed to CS.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0104OC
PMCID: PMC2274944  PMID: 17975176
neonatal lung; cigarette smoke; interferon responsive genes; oxidative stress; TGF-β signaling

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