The long-term goal of this grant project is to understand the immunological mechanisms of asthma. Airway inflammation in patients with asthma is generally characterized by increased numbers of eosinophils and lymphocytes producing Th2 cytokines. However, the mechanisms involved in development of Th2-type CD4+ T cells and persistent and/or recurrent production of Th2 cytokines in the airways are not fully understood. Recently, we and other investigators have identified in mouse lungs novel type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) that are responsive to IL-33. Airway exposure to aeroallergens induces IL-33 production in the lungs, and administration of exogenous IL-33 promotes development of antigen-specific Th2-type CD4+ T cells. Furthermore, ILC2s and conventional CD4+ T cells work together synergistically, resulting in production of large quantities of Th2 cytokines in vitro. Therefore, we hypothesize that ILC2s are involved in the development of robust Th2-type immune responses and persistent inflammation in respiratory tract exposed to airborne allergens, leading to chronic airway diseases such as asthma.
In Aim 1, we will determine the roles of ILC2s in development of antigen-specific Th2-type CD4+ T cells. By using in vitro experiments and IL-33-driven mouse airway sensitization models, we will investigate how ILC2s are involved in the development and/or maintenance of antigen-specific Th2-type CD4+ T cells in the lungs.
In Aim 2, we will determine the roles of ILC2s and conventional Th2-type CD4+ T cells in asthma. By using a mouse model of chronic asthma (i.e. mice exposed repeatedly to environmental allergens), we will dissect the roles for synergistic interactions between ILC2s and CD4+ T cells in persistent airway inflammation and lung pathology.
In Aim 3, we will investigate the roles of ILC2s in human asthma. We will collect peripheral blood specimens from allergic asthma patients and from control individuals and examine whether IL-33-responsive ILC2s are increased and/or functionally activated in patients with asthma. We have developed several robust mouse models to dissect the Th2-type immune responses and airway inflammation to airborne allergens. All of the tools necessary to accomplish this project, including gene-deficient mice, cytokine reporter mice and adoptive cell transfer models, are currently available in our laboratory. An outstanding group of investigators, including an asthma specialist, will participate in this project. Therefore, the proposed studies are likely to provide fundamental information regarding the mechanisms by which Th2-type immune responses and airway inflammation develop and persist after exposure to environmental allergens. They will provide a new understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma and will lead to the development of novel treatments and prevention strategies for asthma and other Th2-type airway inflammatory disorders.

Public Health Relevance

Patients with asthma have persistent respiratory problems because of inflammation in their airways. This research will investigate how the interaction of immune cells and environmental allergens causes the immune responses and inflammation in the airways. Successful completion of this project will provide new prevention and therapeutic strategies for asthma and related airway diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology Study Section (LCMI)
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Noel, Patricia
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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
Bartemes, Kathleen R; Kita, Hirohito (2018) Innate and adaptive immune responses to fungi in the airway. J Allergy Clin Immunol 142:353-363
Bartemes, Kathleen; Chen, Chien-Chang; Iijima, Koji et al. (2018) IL-33-Responsive Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells Are Regulated by Female Sex Hormones in the Uterus. J Immunol 200:229-236
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
Drake, Li Yin; Iijima, Koji; Bartemes, Kathleen et al. (2016) Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells Promote an Early Antibody Response to a Respiratory Antigen in Mice. J Immunol 197:1335-42
Anderson, E L; Kobayashi, T; Iijima, K et al. (2016) IL-33 mediates reactive eosinophilopoiesis in response to airborne allergen exposure. Allergy 71:977-88
Kita, Hirohito (2015) ILC2s and fungal allergy. Allergol Int 64:219-26
Drake, Li Yin; Iijima, Koji; Hara, Kenichiro et al. (2015) B cells play key roles in th2-type airway immune responses in mice exposed to natural airborne allergens. PLoS One 10:e0121660

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