Airway subepithelial fibrosis in a murine model of atopic asthma: suppression by dexamethasone or anti-interleukin-5 antibody

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2000 Aug;23(2):241-6. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.23.2.3999.


Fibrosis in the reticular layer beneath the epithelial basement membrane is a feature of airway remodeling in human asthma. We previously reported the presence of subepithelial fibrosis (SEF) in a disease model of atopic asthma in which mice were sensitized and intratracheally challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) (Blyth and colleagues, Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 1996;14:425-438). Here, we describe further studies to quantify the degree of SEF after its induction by repeated exposure of the airways to allergen. The amount of subepithelial reticulin in the airways of animals challenged three times with 80 microg OVA was typically increased 1. 4-fold. The increased amount of reticulin showed no reduction after a 50-d period after the third allergen challenge. A reduction in SEF was achieved by daily treatment with dexamethasone (DEX) for 8 d during the allergen challenge period, or by treatment with anti-interleukin-5 antibody (TRFK5) at the time of allergen challenge. Postchallenge treatment with DEX for 15 d resulted in significant resolution of previously established SEF. Severe nonallergic inflammation during repeated exposure of airways to lipopolysaccharide did not induce SEF. The results indicate that development of SEF is associated with eosinophil infiltration into airways, and may occur only when the inflammatory stimulus is allergic in nature.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eosinophils / drug effects
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / immunology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / prevention & control*
  • Reticulin / drug effects
  • Reticulin / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antibodies
  • Interleukin-5
  • Reticulin
  • Dexamethasone
  • Ovalbumin