The prevalence of allergic diseases and asthma is increasing worldwide. These diseases often occur together in the same individual, suggesting the presence of common underlying immunopathogenic factors. The long-term objective of this project is to investigate the fundamental immunological mechanisms involved in the development of allergic diseases. It is becoming increasingly clear that cytokines produced by epithelial cells at the barrier surface, including thymic stromal lymphopoietin, IL-25, and IL-33, play an important role in shaping type 2 immunity and in the pathophysiology of allergic diseases in humans. However, major gaps still remain in our knowledge concerning the molecular and cellular control of production and secretion of these cytokines. The objective of this application is to address these gaps by focusing on IL-33. IL-33 is generally stored in the nucleus of non-hematologic cells. We found recently that exposure of human airway epithelial cells to a fungal allergen, Alternaria alternata, evokes a rapid extracellular release of ATP, which triggers sustained increases in intracellular calcium concentration and IL-33 secretion into the extracellular milieu. We also found that both ATP release and IL-33 secretion are abolished when levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are reduced by ROS scavengers and small molecule activators of Nrf2, which increases the expression of endogenous antioxidant enzymes. Secreted IL-33 had been processed to a 19 kDa form from the full-length 31 kDa form. Therefore, we hypothesize that, upon exposure to airborne allergens, the oxidative stress response in airway epithelium triggers extracellular release of ATP, resulting in proteolytic processing and secretion of highly active IL-33. The proposed study is designed to investigate the key steps of this process in detail.
In Aim 1, we will determine how oxidative stress initiates and sustains the release of ATP from airway epithelial cells, a critical step that triggers IL-33 secretion.
In Aim 2, we will investigate how airborne allergen exposure induces oxidative stress in airway epithelium by studying roles for the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE).
In Aim 3, we will examine the cellular mechanisms involved in the processing and secretion of IL-33 by studying the roles for the epithelium's endogenous protease. We will employ a combination of complementary molecular, cell biological, pharmacological and immunological expertise in the laboratories of Dr. O'Grady and Dr. Kita. Novel and robust in vitro and in vivo models have been developed for this project. These studies will provide a better understanding of how the epithelium responds to environmental allergens and will define the key immunopathophysiologic mechanisms responsible for secretion of IL-33. Ultimately, these studies will provide an important characterization of key molecule(s) involved in allergen-induced immune responses, allowing for identification of novel therapeutic target(s) to treat and ideally to prevent immune-mediated diseases, such as asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis, and allergic disorders.

Public Health Relevance

The prevalence of allergic diseases is increasing worldwide. The long-term objective of this project is to investigate the fundamental mechanisms underlying the etiology of these immune-mediated diseases. Specifically, we will investigate how exposure of airway epithelium to environmental allergens initiates the immune responses that culminate in the disease process underlying allergic diseases. Successful completion of this project will provide new prevention and treatment strategies for these diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Dong, Gang
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Mayo Clinic, Rochester
United States
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Cheon, In Su; Son, Young Min; Jiang, Li et al. (2018) Neonatal hyperoxia promotes asthma-like features through IL-33-dependent ILC2 responses. J Allergy Clin Immunol 142:1100-1112
Hayes, Tristan; Rumore, Amanda; Howard, Brad et al. (2018) Innate Immunity Induced by the Major Allergen Alt a 1 From the Fungus Alternaria Is Dependent Upon Toll-Like Receptors 2/4 in Human Lung Epithelial Cells. Front Immunol 9:1507
Bartemes, Kathleen R; Kita, Hirohito (2018) Innate and adaptive immune responses to fungi in the airway. J Allergy Clin Immunol 142:353-363
Zaidman, Nathan A; O'Grady, Kelly E; Patil, Nandadevi et al. (2017) Airway epithelial anion secretion and barrier function following exposure to fungal aeroallergens: role of oxidative stress. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 313:C68-C79
Drake, Li Yin; Kita, Hirohito (2017) IL-33: biological properties, functions, and roles in airway disease. Immunol Rev 278:173-184
Chen, Chien-Chang; Kobayashi, Takao; Iijima, Koji et al. (2017) IL-33 dysregulates regulatory T cells and impairs established immunologic tolerance in the lungs. J Allergy Clin Immunol 140:1351-1363.e7
Uchida, M; Anderson, E L; Squillace, D L et al. (2017) Oxidative stress serves as a key checkpoint for IL-33 release by airway epithelium. Allergy 72:1521-1531