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Allergic airway diseases are immune disorders associated with heightened type 2 immune responses and IL-5 and IL-13 production at the site of inflammation. We have previously reported that cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition by indomethacin augmented allergic airway inflammation in a STAT6-independent manner. However, the key COX product(s) responsible for restraining indomethacin-mediated STAT6-independent allergic inflammation is unknown. In this study, using the mouse model of OVA-induced allergic airway inflammation, we identified that PGI2 receptor (IP) signaling was critical for indomethacin-induced, STAT6-independent proallergic effects. We demonstrated that IP deficiency increased inflammatory cell infiltration, eosinophilia, and IL-5 and IL-13 expression in the lung in a STAT6-independent manner. The augmented STAT6-independent allergic inflammation correlated with enhanced primary immune responses to allergic sensitization and elevated production of multiple inflammatory chemokines (CCL11, CCL17, CCL22, and CXCL12) in the lung after allergen challenge. We also showed that the PGI2 analogue cicaprost inhibited CD4 T cell proliferation and IL-5 and IL-13 expression in vitro, and IP deficiency diminished the stimulatory effect of indomethacin on STAT6-independent IL-5 and IL-13 responses in vivo. The inhibitory effects of PGI2 and the IP signaling pathway on CD4 T cell activation, inflammatory chemokine production, and allergic sensitization and airway inflammation suggest that PGI2 and its analogue iloprost, both Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, may be useful in treating allergic diseases and asthma. In addition, inhibiting PGI2 signaling by drugs that either block PGI2 production or restrain IP signaling may augment STAT6-independent pathways of allergic inflammation.
Copyright © 2016 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
While 30%-70% of RSV-infected infants develop bronchiolitis, 2% require hospitalization. It is not clear why disease severity differs among healthy, full-term infants; however, virus titers, inflammation, and Th2 bias are proposed explanations. While TLR4 is associated with these disease phenotypes, the role of this receptor in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) pathogenesis is controversial. Here, we evaluated the interaction between TLR4 and environmental factors in RSV disease and defined the immune mediators associated with severe illness. Two independent populations of infants with RSV bronchiolitis revealed that the severity of RSV infection is determined by the TLR4 genotype of the individual and by environmental exposure to LPS. RSV-infected infants with severe disease exhibited a high GATA3/T-bet ratio, which manifested as a high IL-4/IFN-γ ratio in respiratory secretions. The IL-4/IFN-γ ratio present in infants with severe RSV is indicative of Th2 polarization. Murine models of RSV infection confirmed that LPS exposure, Tlr4 genotype, and Th2 polarization influence disease phenotypes. Together, the results of this study identify environmental and genetic factors that influence RSV pathogenesis and reveal that a high IL-4/IFN-γ ratio is associated with severe disease. Moreover, these molecules should be explored as potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Tuberculosis affects nine million individuals and kills almost two million people every year. The only vaccine available, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), has been used since its inception in 1921. Although BCG induces host-protective T helper 1 (Th1) cell immune responses, which play a central role in host protection, its efficacy is unsatisfactory, suggesting that additional methods to enhance protective immune responses are needed. Recently we have shown that simultaneous inhibition of Th2 cells and Tregs by using the pharmacological inhibitors suplatast tosylate and D4476, respectively, dramatically enhances Mycobacterium tuberculosis clearance and induces superior Th1 responses. Here we show that treatment with these two drugs during BCG vaccination dramatically improves vaccine efficacy. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these drugs induce a shift in the development of T cell memory, favoring central memory T (Tcm) cell responses over effector memory T (Tem) cell responses. Collectively, our findings provide evidence that simultaneous inhibition of Th2 cells and Tregs during BCG vaccination promotes vaccine efficacy.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
UNLABELLED - Immune-mediated lung injury is a hallmark of lower respiratory tract illness caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). STAT4 plays a critical role in CD4+ Th1 lineage differentiation and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) protein expression by CD4+ T cells. As CD4+ Th1 differentiation is associated with negative regulation of CD4+ Th2 and Th17 differentiation, we hypothesized that RSV infection of STAT4-/- mice would result in enhanced lung Th2 and Th17 inflammation and impaired lung Th1 inflammation compared to wild-type (WT) mice. We performed primary and secondary RSV challenges in WT and STAT4-/- mice and used STAT1-/- mice as a positive control for the development of RSV-specific lung Th2 and Th17 inflammation during primary challenge. Primary RSV challenge of STAT4-/- mice resulted in decreased T-bet and IFN-γ expression levels in CD4+ T cells compared to those of WT mice. Lung Th2 and Th17 inflammation did not develop in primary RSV-challenged STAT4-/- mice. Decreased IFN-γ expression by NK cells, CD4+ T cells, and CD8+ T cells was associated with attenuated weight loss and enhanced viral clearance with primary challenge in STAT4-/- mice compared to WT mice. Following secondary challenge, WT and STAT4-/- mice also did not develop lung Th2 or Th17 inflammation. In contrast to primary challenge, secondary RSV challenge of STAT4-/- mice resulted in enhanced weight loss, an increased lung IFN-γ expression level, and an increased lung RSV-specific CD8+ T cell response compared to those of WT mice. These data demonstrate that STAT4 regulates the RSV-specific CD8+ T cell response to secondary infection but does not independently regulate lung Th2 or Th17 immune responses to RSV challenge.
IMPORTANCE - STAT4 is a protein critical for both innate and adaptive immune responses to viral infection. Our results show that STAT4 regulates the immune response to primary and secondary challenge with RSV but does not restrain RSV-induced lung Th2 or Th17 immune responses. These findings suggest that STAT4 expression may influence lung immunity and severity of illness following primary and secondary RSV infections.
Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
Tuberculosis remains the biggest infectious threat to humanity with one-third of the population infected and 1.4 million deaths and 8.7 million new cases annually. Current tuberculosis therapy is lengthy and consists of multiple antimicrobials, which causes poor compliance and high treatment dropout, resulting in the development of drug-resistant variants of tuberculosis. Therefore, alternate methods to treat tuberculosis are urgently needed. Mycobacterium tuberculosis evades host immune responses by inducing T helper (Th)2 and regulatory T (Treg) cell responses, which diminish protective Th1 responses. Here, we show that animals (Stat-6(-/-)CD4-TGFβRIIDN mice) that are unable to generate both Th2 cells and Tregs are highly resistant to M. tuberculosis infection. Furthermore, simultaneous inhibition of these two subsets of Th cells by therapeutic compounds dramatically reduced bacterial burden in different organs. This treatment was associated with the generation of protective Th1 immune responses. As these therapeutic agents are not directed to the harbored organisms, they should avoid the risk of promoting the development of drug-resistant M. tuberculosis variants.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
CD4(+) T cells developing toward a Th2 fate express IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 while inhibiting production of cytokines associated with other Th types, such as the Th1 cytokine IFN- γ. IL-4-producing Th2 effector cells give rise to a long-lived memory population committed to reactivation of the Th2 cytokine gene expression program. However, reactivation of these effector-derived cells under Th1-skewing conditions leads to production of IFN-γ along with IL-4 in the same cell. We now show that this flexibility ("plasticity") of cytokine expression is preceded by a loss of the repressive DNA methylation of the Ifng promoter acquired during Th2 polarization yet requires STAT4 along with T-box expressed in T cells. Surprisingly, loss of either STAT4 or T-box expressed in T cells increased Ifng promoter CpG methylation in both effector and memory Th2 cells. Taken together, our data suggest a model in which the expression of IFN-γ by Th2-derived memory cells involves attenuation of epigenetic repression in memory Th2 cells, combined with Th1-polarizing signals after their recall activation.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase, a multienzyme complex, is the major source for production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are increased in allergic diseases, such as asthma, but the role of ROS in disease pathogenesis remains uncertain. We hypothesized that mice unable to generate ROS via the NADPH oxidase pathway would have decreased allergic airway inflammation. To test this hypothesis, we studied gp91phox(-/-) mice in a model of allergic airway inflammation after sensitization and challenge with ovalbumin. Serum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and lungs were then examined for evidence of allergic inflammation. We found that mice lacking a functional NADPH oxidase complex had significantly decreased ROS production and allergic airway inflammation, compared with wild-type (WT) control animals. To determine the mechanism by which allergic inflammation was inhibited by gp91phox deficiency, we cultured bone marrow-derived dendritic cells from WT and gp91phox(-/-) mice and activated them with LPS. IL-12 expression was significantly increased in the gp91phox(-/-) bone marrow-derived dendritic cells, suggesting that the cytokine profile produced in the absence of gp91phox enhanced the conditions leading to T helper (Th) type 1 differentiation, while inhibiting Th2 polarization. Splenocytes from sensitized gp91phox(-/-) animals produced significantly less IL-13 in response to ovalbumin challenge in vitro compared with splenocytes from sensitized WT mice, suggesting that NADPH oxidase promotes allergic sensitization. In contrast, inflammatory cytokines produced by T cells cultured from WT and gp91phox(-/-) mice under Th0, Th1, Th2, and Th17 conditions were not significantly different. This study demonstrates the importance of NADPH oxidase activity and ROS production in a murine model of asthma.
Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis (UC) exhibit chronic colonic inflammation caused by a dysregulated mucosal immune response and epithelial barrier disruption. Th2 cytokines, including IL-13, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of UC. IL-13 induces phosphorylation of STAT6, and we previously demonstrated increased epithelial p-STAT6 in children with UC. In this study, we investigated the role of STAT6 in oxazolone colitis, a murine model of UC, by inducing colitis in STAT6-deficient (STAT6(-/-)) and wild type (WT) mice. We observed increased epithelial cell, T cell, macrophage, and NKT cell STAT6 phosphorylation, as well as increased p-STAT6(+) IL-13-producing NKT cells, in colitic WT mice. Colitis was attenuated in STAT6(-/-) mice, with improvements in weight, colon length, and histopathology. There was decreased induction of the pore-forming tight junction protein claudin-2 in STAT6(-/-) mice. Similarly, short hairpin RNA STAT6 knockdown reduced claudin-2 induction and transepithelial resistance decrease in IL-13-treated human T84 cells. Tissue expression of IL-13, IFN-γ, IL-17, and IL-10 mRNA was similarly induced in WT and STAT6(-/-) colitic mice; however, we observed increased mRNA expression for the Th2-inducing cytokines IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin in WT mice with colitis, which was abrogated in STAT6(-/-) mice. Mesenteric lymph node cells from STAT6(-/-) mice with colitis exhibited reduced secretion of IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-γ. IL-33 augmented mesenteric lymph node cell secretion of IL-5, IL-13, IL-6, and IFN-γ. These data implicate STAT6 in the pathogenesis of colitis in vivo with important roles in altering epithelial barrier function and regulating Th2-inducing cytokine production.
Associations between respiratory tract infections and asthma inception and exacerbations are well established. Infant respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus infections are known to be associated with an increased risk of asthma development, and among children with prevalent asthma, 85% of asthma exacerbations are associated with viral infections. However, the exact nature of this relationship remains unclear. Is the increase in severity of infections an epiphenomenon, meaning respiratory tract infections just appear to be more severe in patients with underlying respiratory disease, or instead a reflection of altered host susceptibility among persons with asthma and atopic disease? The main focus of this review is to summarize the available levels of evidence supporting or refuting the notion that patients with asthma or atopic disease have an altered susceptibility to selected pathogens, as well as discussing the biological mechanism or mechanisms that might explain such associations. Finally, we will outline areas in need of further research because understanding the relationships between infections and asthma has important implications for asthma prevention and treatment, including potential new pathways that might target the host immune response to select pathogens.
Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), resides and replicates within phagocytes and persists in susceptible hosts by modulating protective innate immune responses. Furthermore, M. tuberculosis promotes T helper 2 (Th2) immune responses by altering the balance of T cell polarizing cytokines in infected cells. However, cytokines that regulate Th2 cell differentiation during TB infection remain unknown. Here we show that IL-1β, produced by phagocytes infected by virulent M. tuberculosis strain H37Rv, directs Th2 cell differentiation. In sharp contrast, the vaccine strain bacille Calmette-Guérin as well as RD-1 and ESAT-6 mutants of H37Rv failed to induce IL-1β and promote Th2 cell differentiation. Furthermore, ESAT-6 induced IL-1β production in dendritic cells (DCs), and CD4(+) T cells co-cultured with infected DCs differentiated into Th2 cells. Taken together, our findings indicate that IL-1β induced by RD-1/ESAT-6 plays an important role in the differentiation of Th2 cells, which in turn facilitates progression of TB by inhibiting host protective Th1 responses.