GM-CSF Transgene Expression in the Airway Allows Aerosolized Ovalbumin to Induce Allergic Sensitization in Mice

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The purpose of this study was to explore whether repeated exposure to aerosolized ovalbumin (OVA) in the context of local expression of GM-CSF can initiate a Th2-driven, eosinophilic inflammation in the airways. On day -1, Balb/c mice were infected intranasally with an adenovirus construct expressing GM-CSF (Ad/GM-CSF). From day 0 to day 9 mice were exposed daily to an OVA aerosol. Mice exposed to OVA alone did not show any evidence of airway inflammation. Mice receiving both Ad/GM-CSF and aerosolized OVA exhibited marked airway inflammation characterized by eosinophilia and goblet cell hyperplasia. Migration of eosinophils into the airway was preceded by a rise in IL-5 and IL-4. Both IL-5 and class II MHC were critically required to generate airway eosinophilia. After resolution, airway eosinophilia was reconstituted after a single OVA exposure. Flow cytometric analysis of dispersed lung cells revealed an increase in macrophages and dendritic cells expressing B7.1 and B7.2, and expansion of activated (CD69-expressing) CD4 and CD8 T cells in mice exposed to OVA and Ad/GM-CSF. Our data indicate that expression of GM-CSF in the airway compartment increases local antigen presentation capacity, and concomitantly facilitates the development of an antigen-specific, eosinophilic inflammatory response to an otherwise innocuous antigen. (J. Clin. Invest. 1998. 102:1704-1714.)

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