The Clinical and Environmental Determinants of Airway Transcriptional Profiles in Allergic Asthma

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Abstract

Rationale:

Gene expression profiling of airway epithelial and inflammatory cells can be used to identify genes involved in environmental asthma.

Methods:

Airway epithelia and inflammatory cells were obtained via bronchial brush and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) from 39 subjects comprising three phenotypic groups (nonatopic nonasthmatic, atopic nonasthmatic, and atopic asthmatic) 4 hours after instillation of LPS, house dust mite antigen, and saline in three distinct subsegmental bronchi. RNA transcript levels were assessed using whole genome microarrays.

Measurements and Main Results:

Baseline (saline exposure) differences in gene expression were related to airflow obstruction in epithelial cells (C3, ALOX5AP, CCL18, and others), and to serum IgE (innate immune genes and focal adhesion pathway) and allergic-asthmatic phenotype (complement genes, histone deacetylases, and GATA1 transcription factor) in inflammatory cells. LPS stimulation resulted in pronounced transcriptional response across all subjects in both airway epithelia and BAL cells, with strong association to nuclear factor-κB and IFN-inducible genes as well as signatures of other transcription factors (NRF2, C/EBP, and E2F1) and histone proteins. No distinct transcriptional profile to LPS was observed in the asthma and atopy phenotype. Finally, although no consistent expression changes were observed across all subjects in response to house dust mite antigen stimulation, we observed subtle differences in gene expression (e.g., GATA1 and GATA2) in BAL cells related to the asthma and atopy phenotype.

Conclusions:

Our results indicate that among individuals with allergic asthma, transcriptional changes in airway epithelia and inflammatory cells are influenced by phenotype as well as environmental exposures.

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