Inhibition of BET bromodomains restores corticosteroid responsiveness in a mixed granulocytic mouse model of asthma

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Graphical abstractProposed mechanism for the restoration of corticosteroid responsiveness by BET inhibitor, (+)JQ-1 in a mixed granulocytic mouse model of asthma.Asthma is a heterogeneous disease characterized by different endotypes/phenotypes. Th2/Th17 driven mixed granulocytic asthma is one of them and shows resistance to corticosteroid therapy. Bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) proteins are required for differentiation of Th17 cells which play a pivotal role in neutrophilic inflammation. Therefore, we sought to characterize the differential effects of BET inhibitor versus corticosteroids, and their potential synergism in cockroach allergen extract (CE)-induced mixed granulocytic (eosinophilic and neutrophilic) mouse model of asthma having Th2/Th17 endotype. Effects of BET inhibitor, (+)JQ-1 alone and in combination with dexamethasone (Dexa) were assessed on airway inflammation as well as Th2/Th17 related airway immune responses in CE-induced mixed granulocytic asthma. Markers of steroid resistance [histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), and oxidative stress] were also assessed in the lungs of mice and primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs). BET inhibitor, (+)JQ-1 abolished Th17 driven neutrophilic inflammation in CE-induced mixed granulocytic asthma. Dexa had limited effect on overall airway inflammation despite having significant reductions in Th2 driven immune responses. However, combination of (+)JQ-1 with Dexa completely blocked both Th2 and /Th17 driven immune responses in the lung which led to significant reductions in eosinophils, neutrophils, and mucin secretion. (+)JQ-1 also reversed CE- and IL-17A-induced decrease in HDAC2 expression in murine and human airway epithelial cells respectively.

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