This project's long-term goal is to understand asthma's immunological mechanisms. Airway inflammation in patients with asthma is generally characterized by increased lymphocytes producing type 2 cytokines. However, the mechanisms involved in persistent and/or recurrent production of type 2 cytokines in the airways are not entirely understood. Notable progress regarding the mechanisms of type 2 immunity has been made in the past several years. Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) that rapidly produce large quantities of type 2 cytokines have been identified and are implicated in the innate arm of type 2 immunity. More recent findings suggest the ability of ILC2s to regulate the adaptive arm of immunity and their high degree of plasticity. Thus, the primary objective of this renewal application is to translate these new discoveries in the basic science of ILC2s to the immunologic mechanisms of asthma. We will test the hypothesis that ILC2s play a vital role in persistent and recurrent airway inflammation in asthma.
In Aim 1, we will determine the roles of lung ILC2s in a chronic airway inflammation model in mice. By using a model in which mice are repeatedly exposed to natural airborne allergens, we will dissect the roles for ILC2s and Th2-type CD4+ T cells in chronic airway inflammation.
In Aim 2, we will elucidate the genetic and functional plasticity of lung ILC2s in mice. The immune system of mice housed in a regular specific pathogen- free environment is similar to human neonates. Through the use of a recently developed novel mouse model that replicates a human adult-like immune system, we will investigate the functional plasticity of lung ILC2s in that environment and how their abilities to promote type 2 inflammation are modulated.
In Aim 3, we will investigate the roles of ILC2s in a chronic airway disease in humans. In patients, chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is often associated with asthma. By using an established clinical protocol to evaluate CRS patients during a natural exacerbation of the disease, we will investigate how functions of ILC2s are regulated dynamically in the disease process. This application integrates mechanistic studies in mice and a proof-of-concept study in humans. It represents collaborative efforts among basic science and translational immunologists and clinician investigators. The tools and technical expertise necessary to accomplish this project are in place. Therefore, the proposed studies will likely provide fundamental information regarding type 2 airway inflammation recurrence and persistence in patients with asthma and ILC2s involvement. Clarification of the immunological mechanisms involved in the disease process will lead to development of novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of asthma and related chronic airway 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 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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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Lachowicz-Scroggins, Marrah Elizabeth
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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
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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
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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
Kita, Hirohito (2015) ILC2s and fungal allergy. Allergol Int 64:219-26

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