Inhibition of Phosphodiesterase 4 Attenuates Airway Hyperresponsiveness and Airway Inflammation in a Model of Secondary Allergen Challenge

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Jan;163(1):173-84. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.163.1.2001118.


We compared for the first time the therapeutic potential of a specific phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor, rolipram, with anti-VLA-4 and anti-IL-5 in a model of secondary allergen exposure of previously sensitized and challenged mice. To address these issues, mice were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) (primary challenge). Six weeks later, sensitized/challenged mice were reexposed to OVA (secondary challenge) and airway response (resistance [RL] and dynamic compliance [Cdyn]) to inhaled methacholine was monitored. After secondary OVA challenge, RL significantly increased as did the number of lung inflammatory cells and IL-4 and IL-5 production in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Administration of rolipram, in a dose-dependent manner, significantly prevented both changes in RL and Cdyn, as well as eosinophil, lymphocyte, and neutrophil accumulation in the BALF; IL-4 and IL-5 levels in BALF were also significantly reduced. In contrast, treatment with anti-VLA-4 and anti-IL-5 only prevented changes in RL and eosinophil numbers and IL-5 production in BALF. Further, goblet cell hyperplasia was suppressed only by treatment with rolipram. None of the treatments affected OVA-specific antibody levels. These studies confirm that IL-5 dependent eosinophilic inflammation plays an essential role in the development of certain aspects of airway function after rechallenge of sensitized mice and that lymphocytes and neutrophils are also important in the development of altered airway function. The use of agents that inhibit PDE4 may have an important role in the treatment of asthma in previously sensitized mice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Resistance / drug effects
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • Female
  • Inflammation
  • Integrin alpha4beta1
  • Integrins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-5 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung Compliance / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / pharmacology
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Rolipram / pharmacology*


  • Allergens
  • Integrin alpha4beta1
  • Integrins
  • Interleukin-5
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing
  • Ovalbumin
  • Rolipram