Pollen-induced airway inflammation, hyper-responsiveness and apoptosis in a murine model of allergy

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Previous studies indicate that murine models are useful tools for studying the allergic diseases, including certain aspects of bronchial asthma such as cellular tissue inflammation and pulmonary function.


To develop an experimental model of allergic lung inflammation based on a relevant human allergen, olive pollen, and to establish the immunological, cellular and functional airway features of the allergic response in this model.


Induction of systemic allergic response was achieved by the subcutaneous administration of Olea europaea extract in BALB/c mice. Olea-specific Igs (IgG1, IgG2a and IgE) and cytokines from splenocyte cultures IL-4, IL-5 IL-10, IL-13 and IFN-γ were measured. Allergic airway response was generated by transnasal instillation of the allergens. Airway responsiveness was monitored by non-invasive methacholine inhalation challenge. Lungs were paraffin embedded and histologically analysed. Apoptosis was studied by the TUNEL technique in the lung tissue and through cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry in splenocytes.


Our results demonstrate that Olea-sensitized mice develop a specific allergic antibody (IgG1 and IgE) and cytokine (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13) response. After transnasal Olea instillation, they show inflammatory infiltration of lung tissue, mucus secretion and non-specific hyper-responsiveness in the airway. Concomitantly, differences in the rate of apoptosis are observed in the lung cells as well as a significant reduction of spontaneous apoptosis in the splenocytes of allergic mice.


We present a novel animal model of olive pollen-allergic disease. This model presents traits associated with human allergic asthma and could be an interesting tool in the study of underlying molecular mechanisms and in exploring the therapeutic approaches to this disease.

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