Biosignature for airway inflammation in a house dust mite-challenged murine model of allergic asthma

Biol Open. 2016 Jan 6;5(2):112-21. doi: 10.1242/bio.014464.


House dust mite (HDM) challenge is commonly used in murine models of allergic asthma for preclinical pathophysiological studies. However, few studies define objective readouts or biomarkers in this model. In this study we characterized immune responses and defined molecular markers that are specifically altered after HDM challenge. In this murine model, we used repeated HDM challenge for two weeks which induced hallmarks of allergic asthma seen in humans, including airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) and elevated levels of circulating total and HDM-specific IgE and IgG1. Kinetic studies showed that at least 24 h after last HDM challenge results in significant AHR along with eosinophil infiltration in the lungs. Histologic assessment of lung revealed increased epithelial thickness and goblet cell hyperplasia, in the absence of airway wall collagen deposition, suggesting ongoing tissue repair concomitant with acute allergic lung inflammation. Thus, this model may be suitable to delineate airway inflammation processes that precede airway remodeling and development of fixed airway obstruction. We observed that a panel of cytokines e.g. IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, KC, TNF-α, IL-13, IL-33, MDC and TARC were elevated in lung tissue and bronchoalveolar fluid, indicating local lung inflammation. However, levels of these cytokines remained unchanged in serum, reflecting lack of systemic inflammation in this model. Based on these findings, we further monitored the expression of 84 selected genes in lung tissues by quantitative real-time PCR array, and identified 31 mRNAs that were significantly up-regulated in lung tissue from HDM-challenged mice. These included genes associated with human asthma (e.g. clca3, ear11, il-13, il-13ra2, il-10, il-21, arg1 and chia1) and leukocyte recruitment in the lungs (e.g. ccl11, ccl12 and ccl24). This study describes a biosignature to enable broad and systematic interrogation of molecular mechanisms and intervention strategies for airway inflammation pertinent to allergic asthma that precedes and possibly potentiates airway remodeling and fibrosis.

Keywords: Airway hyper-responsiveness; Allergy; Asthma; Biomarkers; Biosignature; House dust mite; Inflammation.