Allergic asthma is a chronic disease which has been on the rise in recent decades. Although the etiology of asthma is not well understood, it is currently thought to arise as a result of inappropriate CD4?mediated inflammatory responses to airborne allergens in susceptible individuals. Despite extensive investigation, the exact mechanisms responsible for the initiation of Th2 (IL-13) immune responses in asthmatic individuals are unknown. The initiation and maintenance of Th2 immune responses are dependent upon specific activation of dendritic cells at the airway surface. Recent evidence suggests that specific subsets of dendritic cells (DCs) are critical for the initiation of allergic airway responses and play an important role in driving either immunity (myeloid, mDCs) or tolerance (plasmacytoid, pDCs) to inhaled antigens. However, the mechanisms by which specific DC subsets are recruited to the lung and activated in response to allergen exposure are unknown. Our preliminary data collectively support the novel hypothesis that the common allergen, house dust mite, triggers the rapid release of the immature dendritic cell chemoattractant, CCL20, from its storage sites on the extracellular matrix molecule syndecan-1, through the activation of dectin-1, a pattern recognition molecule which recognizes beta-glucans. CCL20 once released drives the preferential recruitment and activation of the immunogenic myeloid dendritic cell subset which in turn directs Th2 cell differentiation and the development of allergic inflammation. Moreover, IL-13 itself can induce the release of CCL20 from the airway epithelium providing an amplication loop for continued Th2 cytokine production. The molecular mechanisms driving epithelial CCL20 release from syndecan, the mechanisms of preferential recruitment and activation of mDCs by CCL20/syndecan-1, the mechanisms by which IL-13 induces CCL20 release and perpetuates dendritic cell recruitment into the lung, and the exact contributions of these pathways to allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammation are unknown. Thus we propose the following specific aims to test this hypothesis and define the molecular mechanisms underlying allergen-induced induction of Th2 cytokine production: 1)To determine the role of dectin-1 signaling pathways in the HDM-induced release of syndecan-1/CCL20 complexes from the surface of airway epithelial cells;2) To determine the mechanism by which syndecan-1 regulates dendritic cell conditioning of T cell IL- 13 production in vitro and in vivo;3)To determine the mechanisms by which IL-13 perpetuates the recruitment of immunogenic DC subsets and further Th2 cytokine production. Collectively, the results of these studies should provide a better understanding of the mechanisms driving Th2 (IL-13) cytokine production and may lead to the development of novel asthma therapies which are disease modifying rather than ameliorative.

Public Health Relevance

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lung which has been on the rise in recent decades. As IL-13 has been shown to be a central mediator of allergic inflammation, studies in this proposal aim to elucidate the pathways leading to the generation of IL-13 in the lung. The identification of specific pathways initiating these responses may lead to the development of novel, effective therapies for the treatment of this ever-increasing disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMM-H (03))
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Minnicozzi, Michael
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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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