Background: IL-1 is a pleotropic cytokine that has been shown to play a prominent role in asthma induced by large-molecular-weight proteins. Increased IL-1 immunostaining in the submucosa of patients with toluene diisocyanate (TDI)-induced asthma has also been observed, suggesting that this cytokine might also be important in asthma associated with low-molecular-weight chemicals.
Objective: We sought to determine the role of IL-1 signaling in airway reactivity and inflammation by using a murine model of TDI-induced asthma.
Methods: C57BL/6 mice were exposed to TDI by means of vapor inhalation (20 ppb; 4 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 6 weeks) and then challenged 2 weeks later by inhalation with 20 ppb TDI vapor for 1 hour.
Results: Sensitized-challenged mice showed increased airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), increased levels of TDI-specific IgG1 antibodies, airway epithelial thickening, inflammation consisting of infiltrating lymphocytes and eosinophils, and increased mRNA expression of IL-4, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 in the lung. Prevention of IL-1 signaling through deletion of the IL-1 receptor type I or administration of neutralizing antibodies to both IL-1beta and IL-1alpha abrogated the development of TDI-induced asthma. A partial reduction in AHR and TDI-specific IgG1 levels was observed in mice administered anti-IL-1beta, whereas anti-IL-1alpha had no effect on either parameter. Antibodies to IL-1beta or IL-1alpha alone blocked airway inflammation and the expression of IL-4 and adhesion molecules in the lung.
Conclusions: These results suggest that IL-1 signaling is critical for AHR and airway inflammation, with IL-1beta and IL-1alpha having unique and overlapping roles in TDI-induced occupational asthma.