Fungal chitin from asthma-associated home environments induces eosinophilic lung infiltration

J Immunol. 2011 Sep 1;187(5):2261-7. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1100972. Epub 2011 Aug 8.


Development of asthma and allergic inflammation involves innate immunity, but the environmental contributions remain incompletely defined. Analysis of dust collected from the homes of asthmatic individuals revealed that the polysaccharide chitin is environmentally widespread and associated with β-glucans, possibly from ubiquitous fungi. Cell wall preparations of Aspergillus isolated from house dust induced robust recruitment of eosinophils into mouse lung, an effect that was attenuated by enzymatic degradation of cell wall chitin and β-glucans. Mice expressing constitutively active acidic mammalian chitinase in the lungs demonstrated a significant reduction in eosinophil infiltration after fungal challenge. Conversely, chitinase inhibition prolonged the duration of tissue eosinophilia. Thus, fungal chitin derived from home environments associated with asthma induces eosinophilic allergic inflammation in the lung, and mammalian chitinases, including acidic mammalian chitinase, limit this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspergillus / chemistry
  • Aspergillus / immunology
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Asthma / microbiology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Cell Separation
  • Chitin / immunology*
  • Chitin / isolation & purification
  • Chitinases / immunology
  • Dust / analysis
  • Dust / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia / microbiology
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Dust
  • Chitin
  • Chitinases