Airway Responsiveness in Two Inbred Strains of Mouse Disparate in IgE and IL-4 Production


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Abstract

The mouse provides an excellent model for genetic studies of asthma, which is characterized by airway hyperexcitability and hyperreactivity. The former is a function of the properties of the membrane of the airway smooth muscle (ASM), whereas the latter is a function, albeit indirectly, of the mechanical properties of the muscle contractile apparatus. The very small size of the muscle has in the past hampered its study. We report herein that contractile properties of tracheal smooth muscle (TSM) can be measured in mice. We examined TSM strips from two inbred strains of mouse, ASW and SJL, which are high and low IgE responders, respectively. Force-velocity relationships were measured in four groups of mice, two ASW (control and sensitized) and two SJL (control and sensitized). Muscle strips from sensitized SJL mice exhibited shortening velocities (V0) and maximum shortening capacities (δLmax), that were significantly greater than those of the other groups. However, no difference was found between the two strains in maximal isometric force (P0). The two strains also showed differences in their potential to express cytokines such as interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-5 in ex vivo splenocyte cultures, as measured by the cytokines' messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression. The SJL strain, which exhibited TSM hyperreactivity, was found to produce significantly greater amounts of IL-4 than the ASW strain. We conclude that the altered contractile properties of TSM in sensitized SJL mice are independent of IgE response, but linked to increased amounts of IL-4.

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