CD34 Differentially Regulates Contractile and Noncontractile Elements of Airway Reactivity

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Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), a major hallmark of asthma, results from alterations of contractile and noncontractile elements of airway reactivity. CD34 is a sialomucin that is expressed on various cells involved in asthma, such as eosinophils and airway smooth muscle precursors, highlighting its potential influence in AHR. To study the role of CD34 in regulating the contractile and noncontractile elements of AHR, AHR was induced by chronic exposure to house dust mite (HDM) antigen. To assess the role of CD34 on the contractile elements of AHR, airway reactivity and airway smooth muscle contractility in response to methacholine were measured. To assess CD34's role in regulating the noncontractile elements of AHR, a chimeric mouse model was used to determine the impact of CD34 expression on inflammatory versus microenvironmental cells in AHR development. Extracellular matrix production, mucus production, and mast cell degranulation were also measured. Whereas wild-type mice developed AHR in response to HDM, a loss of airway reactivity was observed in Cd34−/− mice 24 hours after the last exposure to HDM compared with naive controls. This was reversed when airway reactivity was measured 1 week after the last HDM exposure. Additionally, mast cell degranulation and mucus production were altered in the absence of CD34 expression. Importantly, simultaneous expression of CD34 on cells originating from the hematopoietic compartment and the microenvironment was needed for expression of this phenotype. These results provide evidence that CD34 is required for AHR and airway reactivity maintenance in the early days after an inflammatory episode in asthma.

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