NADPH Oxidase-4 Overexpression Is Associated With Epithelial Ciliary Dysfunction in Neutrophilic Asthma

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Bronchial epithelial ciliary dysfunction is an important feature of asthma. We sought to determine the role in asthma of neutrophilic inflammation and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidases in ciliary dysfunction.


Bronchial epithelial ciliary function was assessed by using video microscopy in fresh ex vivo epithelial strips from patients with asthma stratified according to their sputum cell differentials and in culture specimens from healthy control subjects and patients with asthma. Bronchial epithelial oxidative damage was determined by 8-oxo-dG expression. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase (NOX)/dual oxidase (DUOX) expression was assessed in bronchial epithelial cells by using microarrays, with NOX4 and DUOX1/2 expression assessed in bronchial biopsy specimens. Ciliary dysfunction following NADPH oxidase inhibition, using GKT137831, was evaluated in fresh epithelial strips from patients with asthma and a murine model of ovalbumin sensitization and challenge.


Ciliary beat frequency was impaired in patients with asthma with sputum neutrophilia (n = 11) vs those without (n = 10) (5.8 [0.6] Hz vs 8.8 [0.5] Hz; P = .003) and was correlated with sputum neutrophil count (r = –0.70; P < .001). Primary bronchial epithelial cells expressed DUOX1/2 and NOX4. Levels of 8-oxo-dG and NOX4 were elevated in patients with neutrophilic vs nonneutrophilic asthma, DUOX1 was elevated in both, and DUOX2 was elevated in nonneutrophilic asthma in vivo. In primary epithelial cultures, ciliary dysfunction did not persist, although NOX4 expression and reactive oxygen species generation was increased from patients with neutrophilic asthma. GKT137831 both improved ciliary function in ex vivo epithelial strips (n = 13), relative to the intensity of neutrophilic inflammation, and abolished ciliary dysfunction in the murine asthma model with no reduction in inflammation.


Ciliary dysfunction is increased in neutrophilic asthma associated with increased NOX4 expression and is attenuated by NADPH oxidase inhibition.

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