Dust mite proteolytic allergens induce cytokine release from cultured airway epithelium

J Immunol. 1998 Oct 1;161(7):3645-51.


Endogenous proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be potential sources of airway inflammation inducing proinflammatory cytokine release from respiratory epithelial cells; however, whether any of the exogenous proteases from important allergen sources such as the house dust mite present in our environment behave in a similar fashion is unclear. To this end, we have investigated whether the mite cysteine and serine proteolytic allergens, Der p 1 and Der p 9, respectively, induced cytokine production from primary human bronchial epithelial cells and from the epithelial cell line BEAS-2B. Cells were exposed to mite proteases, and cells or supernatants were assayed for cytokine release, cytokine mRNA expression, and modulation of intracellular calcium ion concentration. Both proteases induced concentration- and time-dependent increases in the release of granulocyte-macrophage (GM)-CSF, IL-6, and IL-8 as well as an increase in the expression of IL-6 mRNA. Cytokine release and mRNA expression were first observed at 8 h and 2 h after protease exposure, respectively. The minimum concentration of each protease that was required to stimulate GM-CSF, IL-6, and IL-8 release was approximately 10 ng/ml. Cytokine release was initiated by 1 to 2 h of protease exposure, although maximum concentrations were detected only after a 24-h incubation. IL-6, but not IL-8 and GM-CSF, was shown to be degraded by both proteases at concentrations of > 2 microg/ml. The proteases also stimulated changes in the intracellular calcium ion concentration. All mite protease-induced phenomena were inhibited using appropriate protease inhibitors. These results suggest that the proteolytic activity of an allergen may stimulate the release of proinflammatory cytokines from human bronchial epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Bronchi / drug effects
  • Bronchi / immunology
  • Bronchi / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / physiology
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dust*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Mites / enzymology*
  • Mites / immunology*
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Cytokines
  • Dust
  • Glycoproteins
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Calcium