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Loss of secretory IgA is common in the small airways of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and may contribute to disease pathogenesis. Using mice that lack secretory IgA in the airways due to genetic deficiency of polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR mice), we investigated the role of neutrophils in driving the fibrotic small airway wall remodeling and emphysema that develops spontaneously in these mice. By flow cytometry, we found an increase in the percentage of neutrophils among CD45 cells in the lungs, as well as an increase in total neutrophils, in pIgR mice compared with wild-type controls. This increase in neutrophils in pIgR mice was associated with elastin degradation in the alveolar compartment and around small airways, along with increased collagen deposition in small airway walls. Neutrophil depletion using anti-Ly6G antibodies or treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics inhibited development of both emphysema and small airway remodeling, suggesting that airway bacteria provide the stimulus for deleterious neutrophilic inflammation in this model. Exogenous bacterial challenge using lysates prepared from pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria worsened neutrophilic inflammation and lung remodeling in pIgR mice. This phenotype was abrogated by antiinflammatory therapy with roflumilast. Together, these studies support the concept that disruption of the mucosal immune barrier in small airways contributes to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease progression by allowing bacteria to stimulate chronic neutrophilic inflammation, which, in turn, drives progressive airway wall fibrosis and emphysematous changes in the lung parenchyma.
RATIONALE - Maintenance of a surface immune barrier is important for homeostasis in organs with mucosal surfaces that interface with the external environment; however, the role of the mucosal immune system in chronic lung diseases is incompletely understood.
OBJECTIVES - We examined the relationship between secretory IgA (SIgA) on the mucosal surface of small airways and parameters of inflammation and airway wall remodeling in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
METHODS - We studied 1,104 small airways (<2 mm in diameter) from 50 former smokers with COPD and 39 control subjects. Small airways were identified on serial tissue sections and examined for epithelial morphology, SIgA, bacterial DNA, nuclear factor-κB activation, neutrophil and macrophage infiltration, and airway wall thickness.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS - Morphometric evaluation of small airways revealed increased mean airway wall thickness and inflammatory cell counts in lungs from patients with COPD compared with control subjects, whereas SIgA level on the mucosal surface was decreased. However, when small airways were classified as SIgA intact or SIgA deficient, we found that pathologic changes were localized almost exclusively to SIgA-deficient airways, regardless of study group. SIgA-deficient airways were characterized by (1) abnormal epithelial morphology, (2) invasion of bacteria across the apical epithelial barrier, (3) nuclear factor-κB activation, (4) accumulation of macrophages and neutrophils, and (5) fibrotic remodeling of the airway wall.
CONCLUSIONS - Our findings support the concept that localized, acquired SIgA deficiency in individual small airways of patients with COPD allows colonizing bacteria to cross the epithelial barrier and drive persistent inflammation and airway wall remodeling, even after smoking cessation.
Mechanisms driving persistent airway inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are incompletely understood. As secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) deficiency in small airways has been reported in COPD patients, we hypothesized that immunobarrier dysfunction resulting from reduced SIgA contributes to chronic airway inflammation and disease progression. Here we show that polymeric immunoglobulin receptor-deficient (pIgR(-/-)) mice, which lack SIgA, spontaneously develop COPD-like pathology as they age. Progressive airway wall remodelling and emphysema in pIgR(-/-) mice are associated with an altered lung microbiome, bacterial invasion of the airway epithelium, NF-κB activation, leukocyte infiltration and increased expression of matrix metalloproteinase-12 and neutrophil elastase. Re-derivation of pIgR(-/-) mice in germ-free conditions or treatment with the anti-inflammatory phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor roflumilast prevents COPD-like lung inflammation and remodelling. These findings show that pIgR/SIgA deficiency in the airways leads to persistent activation of innate immune responses to resident lung microbiota, driving progressive small airway remodelling and emphysema.
In addition to parenchymal fibrosis, fibrotic remodeling of the distal airways has been reported in interstitial lung diseases. Mechanisms of airway wall remodeling, which occurs in a variety of chronic lung diseases, are not well defined and current animal models are limited. The authors quantified airway remodeling in lung sections from subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and controls. To investigate intratracheal bleomycin as a potential animal model for fibrotic airway remodeling, the authors evaluated lungs from C57BL/6 mice after bleomycin treatment by histologic scoring for fibrosis and peribronchial inflammation, morphometric evaluation of subepithelial connective tissue volume density, TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP-mediated nick-end labeling) assay, and immunohistochemistry for transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1), TGFβ2, and the fibroblast marker S100A4. Lung mechanics were determined at 3 weeks post bleomycin. IPF lungs had small airway remodeling with increased bronchial wall thickness compared to controls. Similarly, bleomycin-treated mice developed dose-dependent airway wall inflammation and fibrosis and greater airflow resistance after high-dose bleomycin. Increased TUNEL(+) bronchial epithelial cells and peribronchial inflammation were noted by 1 week, and expression of TGFβ1 and TGFβ2 and accumulation of S100A4(+) fibroblasts correlated with airway remodeling in a bleomycin dose-dependent fashion. IPF is characterized by small airway remodeling in addition to parenchymal fibrosis, a pattern also seen with intratracheal bleomycin. Bronchial remodeling from intratracheal bleomycin follows a cascade of events including epithelial cell injury, airway inflammation, profibrotic cytokine expression, fibroblast accumulation, and peribronchial fibrosis. Thus, this model can be utilized to investigate mechanisms of airway remodeling.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by interstitial lung infiltrates, dyspnea, and progressive respiratory failure. Reports linking telomerase mutations to familial interstitial pneumonia (FIP) suggest that telomerase activity and telomere length maintenance are important in disease pathogenesis. To investigate the role of telomerase in lung fibrotic remodeling, intratracheal bleomycin was administered to mice deficient in telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) or telomerase RNA component (TERC) and to wild-type controls. TERT-deficient and TERC-deficient mice were interbred to the F6 and F4 generation, respectively, when they developed skin manifestations and infertility. Fibrosis was scored using a semiquantitative scale and total lung collagen was measured using a hydroxyprolinemicroplate assay. Telomere lengths were measured in peripheral blood leukocytes and isolated type II alveolar epithelial cells (AECs). Telomerase activity in type II AECs was measured using a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based system. Following bleomycin, TERT-deficient and TERC-deficient mice developed an equivalent inflammatory response and similar lung fibrosis (by scoring of lung sections and total lung collagen content) compared to controls, a pattern seen in both early (F1) and later (F6 TERT and F4 TERC) generations. Telomere lengths were reduced in peripheral blood leukocytes and isolated type II AECs from F6 TERT-deficient and F4 TERC-deficient mice compared to controls. Telomerase deficiency in a murine model leads to telomere shortening, but does not predispose to enhanced bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. Additional genetic or environmental factors may be necessary for development of fibrosis in the presence of telomerase deficiency.
Goblet cell hyperplasia is a common feature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) airways, but the mechanisms that underlie this epithelial remodelling in COPD are not understood. Based on our previous finding of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) nuclear localization in large airways from patients with COPD, we investigated whether hypoxia-inducible signalling could influence the development of goblet cell hyperplasia. We evaluated large airway samples obtained from 18 lifelong non-smokers and 13 former smokers without COPD, and 45 former smokers with COPD. In these specimens, HIF-1α nuclear staining occurred almost exclusively in COPD patients in areas of airway remodelling. In COPD patients, 93.2 ± 3.9% (range 65-100%) of goblet cells were HIF-1α positive in areas of goblet cell hyperplasia, whereas nuclear HIF-1α was not detected in individuals without COPD or in normal-appearing pseudostratified epithelium from COPD patients. To determine the direct effects of hypoxia-inducible signalling on epithelial cell differentiation in vitro, human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) were grown in air-liquid interface cultures under hypoxia (1% O(2)) or following treatment with a selective HIF-1α stabilizer, (2R)-[(4-biphenylylsulphonyl)amino]-N-hydroxy-3-phenyl-propionamide (BiPS). HBECs grown in hypoxia or with BiPS treatment were characterized by HIF-1α activation, carbonic anhydrase IX expression, mucus-producing cell hyperplasia and increased expression of MUC5AC. Analysis of signal transduction pathways in cells with HIF-1α activation showed increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation without activation of epidermal growth factor receptor, Ras, PI3K-Akt or STAT6. These data indicate an important effect of hypoxia-inducible signalling on airway epithelial cell differentiation and identify a new potential target to limit mucus production in COPD.
Copyright © 2011 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
RATIONALE - Although airway inflammation can persist for years after smoking cessation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the mechanisms of persistent inflammation are largely unknown.
OBJECTIVES - We investigated relationships between bronchial epithelial remodeling, polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) expression, secretory IgA (SIgA), airway inflammation, and mural remodeling in COPD.
METHODS - Lung tissue specimens and bronchoalveolar lavage were obtained from lifetime nonsmokers and former smokers with or without COPD. Epithelial structural changes were quantified by morphometric analysis. Expression of pIgR was determined by immunostaining and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemistry was performed for IgA, CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes, and cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus antigens. Total IgA and SIgA were measured by ELISA and IgA transcytosis was studied using cultured human bronchial epithelial cells.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS - Areas of bronchial mucosa covered by normal pseudostratified ciliated epithelium were characterized by pIgR expression with SIgA present on the mucosal surface. In contrast, areas of bronchial epithelial remodeling had reduced pIgR expression, localized SIgA deficiency, and increased CD4(+) and CD8(+) lymphocyte infiltration. In small airways (<2 mm), these changes were associated with presence of herpesvirus antigens, airway wall remodeling, and airflow limitation in patients with COPD. Patients with COPD had reduced SIgA in bronchoalveolar lavage. Air-liquid interface epithelial cell cultures revealed that complete epithelial differentiation was required for normal pIgR expression and IgA transcytosis.
CONCLUSIONS - Our findings indicate that epithelial structural abnormalities lead to localized SIgA deficiency in COPD airways. Impaired mucosal immunity may contribute to persistent airway inflammation and progressive airway remodeling in COPD.
RATIONALE - Vascular remodeling in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) involves proliferation and migration of endothelial and smooth muscle cells, leading to obliterative vascular lesions. Previous studies have indicated that the endothelial cell proliferation is quasineoplastic, with evidence of monoclonality and instability of short DNA microsatellite sequences.
OBJECTIVES - To assess whether there is larger-scale genomic instability.
METHODS - We performed genome-wide microarray copy number analysis on pulmonary artery endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells isolated from the lungs of patients with PAH.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS - Mosaic chromosomal abnormalities were detected in PAEC cultures from five of nine PAH lungs but not in normal (n = 8) or disease control subjects (n = 5). Fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis confirmed the presence of these abnormalities in vivo in two of three cases. One patient harbored a germline mutation of BMPR2, the primary genetic cause of PAH, and somatic loss of chromosome-13, which constitutes a second hit in the same pathway by deleting Smad-8. In two female subjects with mosaic loss of the X chromosome, methylation analysis showed that the active X was deleted. One subject also showed completely skewed X-inactivation in the nondeleted cells, suggesting the pulmonary artery endothelial cell population was clonal before the acquisition of the chromosome abnormality.
CONCLUSIONS - Our data indicate a high frequency of genetically abnormal subclones within PAH lung vessels and provide the first definitive evidence of a second genetic hit in a patient with a germline BMPR2 mutation. We propose that these chromosome abnormalities may confer a growth advantage and thus contribute to the progression of PAH.
Organ size typically increases dramatically during juvenile growth. This growth presents a fundamental tension, as organs need resiliency to resist stresses while still maintaining plasticity to accommodate growth. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is central to providing resiliency, but how ECM is remodeled to accommodate growth is poorly understood. We investigated remodeling of Drosophila respiratory tubes (tracheae) that elongate continually during larval growth, despite being lined with a rigid cuticular ECM. Cuticle is initially deposited with a characteristic pattern of repeating ridges and valleys known as taenidia. We find that for tubes to elongate, the extracellular protease Mmp1 is required for expansion of ECM between the taenidial ridges during each intermolt period. Mmp1 protein localizes in periodically spaced puncta that are in register with the taenidial spacing. Mmp1 also degrades old cuticle at molts, promotes apical membrane expansion in larval tracheae, and promotes tube elongation in embryonic tracheae. Whereas work in other developmental systems has demonstrated that MMPs are required for axial elongation occurring in localized growth zones, this study demonstrates that MMPs can also mediate interstitial matrix remodeling during growth of an organ system.
Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.