Donna E Davies

University of Southampton, Southampton, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (129)742.77 Total impact

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    Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 02/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2015.01.009
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that underground railway particulate matter (PM) is rich in iron and other transition metals across coarse (PM10-2.5), fine (PM2.5), and quasi-ultrafine (PM0.18) fractions, and is able to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, there is little knowledge of whether the metal-rich nature of such particles exerts toxic effects in mucus-covered airway epithelial cell cultures, or whether there is an increased risk posed by the ultrafine fraction. Monolayer and mucociliary air-liquid interface (ALI) cultures of primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBECs) were exposed to size-fractionated underground railway PM (1.1-11.1 μg/cm(2)), and release of lactate dehydrogenase and IL-8 was assayed. ROS generation was measured, and the mechanism of generation studied using desferrioxamine (DFX) and N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Expression of haem oxygenase-1 (HO-1) was determined by RT-qPCR. Particle uptake was studied by transmission electron microscopy. Underground PM increased IL-8 release from PBECs, but this was diminished in mucus-secreting ALI cultures. Fine and ultrafine PM generated a greater level of ROS than coarse PM. ROS generation by ultrafine PM was ameliorated by DFX and NAC, suggesting an iron-dependent mechanism. Despite the presence of mucus, ALI cultures displayed increased HO-1 expression. Intracellular PM was observed within vesicles, mitochondria, and free in the cytosol. The results indicate that, although the mucous layer appears to confer some protection against underground PM, ALI PBECs nonetheless detect PM and mount an antioxidant response. The combination of increased ROS-generating ability of the metal-rich ultrafine fraction and ability of PM to penetrate the mucous layer merits further research. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Toxicology.
  • Donna E Davies
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    ABSTRACT: The bronchial epithelium is constantly exposed to a wide range of environmental materials present in inhaled air, including noxious gases and anthropogenic and natural particulates, such as gas and particles from car emissions, tobacco smoke, pollens, animal dander, and pathogens. As a fully differentiated, pseudostratified mucociliary epithelium, the bronchial epithelium protects the internal milieu of the lung from these agents by forming a physical barrier involving adhesive complexes and a chemical barrier involving secretion of mucus, which traps inhaled particles that can be cleared by the mucociliary escalator. It is a testament to the effectiveness of these two barriers that most environmental challenges are largely overcome without the need to develop an inflammatory response. However, as the initial cell of contact with the environment, the bronchial epithelium also plays a pivotal role in immune surveillance and appropriate activation of immune effector cells and antigen presenting cells in the presence of pathogens or other danger signals. Thus, the bronchial epithelium plays a central role in controlling tissue homeostasis and innate immunity. This review will discuss these barrier properties and how dysregulation of these homeostatic mechanisms can contribute to disease pathologies such as asthma.
    12/2014; 11(Supplement 5):S244-S251. DOI:10.1513/AnnalsATS.201407-304AW
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    ABSTRACT: To test whether the replication of human rhinovirus (HRV) is regulated by microRNAs in human bronchial epithelial cells. For the present study, the human cell line BEAS-2B (derived from normal human bronchial epithelial cells) was adopted. DICER knock-down, by siRNA transfection in BEAS-2B cells, was performed in order to inhibit microRNA maturation globally. Alternatively, antisense oligonucleotides (anti-miRs) were transfected to inhibit the activity of specific microRNAs. Cells were infected with HRV-1B. Viral replication was assessed by measuring the genomic viral RNA by reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Association between microRNA-induced-silencing-complex and viral RNA was detected by Ago2 co-immunoprecipitation followed by RT-qPCR. Targetscan v.6 was used to predict microRNA target sites on several HRV strains. Here, we show that microRNAs affect replication of HRV-1B. DICER knock-down significantly reduced the expression of mature microRNAs in a bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS-2B) and in turn, increased the synthesis of HRV-1B RNA. Additionally, HRV-1B RNA co-immunoprecipitated with argonaute 2 protein, an important effector for microRNA activity suggesting that microRNAs bind to viral RNA during infection. In order to identify specific microRNAs involved in this interaction, we employed bioinformatics analysis, and selected a group of microRNAs that have been reported to be under-expressed in asthmatic bronchial epithelial cells and were predicted to target different strains of rhinoviruses (HRV-1B, -16, -14, -27). Our results suggest that, out of this group of microRNAs, miR-128 and miR-155 contribute to the innate defense against HRV-1B: transfection of specific anti-miRs increased viral replication, as anticipated in-silico. Taken together, our results suggest that pathological changes in microRNA expression, as already reported for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have the potential to affect Rhinovirus replication and therefore may play a role in virus-induced exacerbations.
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    ABSTRACT: The nanomechanical assessment of collagen fibrils via atomic force microscopy (AFM) is of increasing interest within the biomedical research community. In contrast to conventional nanoindentation there exists no common standard for conducting experiments and analysis of data. Currently used analysis approaches vary between studies and validation of quantitative results is usually not performed, which makes comparison of data from different studies difficult. Also there are no recommendations with regards to the maximum indentation depth that should not be exceeded to avoid substrate effects. Here we present a methodology and analysis approach for AFM cantilever-based nanoindentation experiments that allows efficient use of captured data and relying on a reference sample for determination of tip shape. Further we show experimental evidence that maximum indentation depth on collagen fibrils should be lower than 10–15% of the height of the fibril to avoid substrate effects and we show comparisons between our and other approaches used in previous works. While our analysis approach yields similar values for indentation modulus compared to the Oliver–Pharr method we found that Hertzian analysis yielded significantly lower values. Applying our approach we successfully and efficiently indented collagen fibrils from human bronchi, which were about 30 nm in size, considerably smaller compared to collagen fibrils obtained from murine tail-tendon. In addition, derived mechanical parameters of collagen fibrils are in agreement with data previously published. To establish a quantitative validation we compared indentation results from conventional and AFM cantilever-based nanoindentation on polymeric samples with known mechanical properties. Importantly we can show that our approach yields similar results when compared to conventional nanoindentation on polymer samples. Introducing an approach that is reliable, efficient and taking into account the AFM tip shape, we anticipate that the present work may act as a guideline for conducting AFM cantilever-based nanoindentation of collagen fibrils. This may aid understanding of collagen-related diseases such as asthma, lung fibrosis or bone disease with potential alterations of collagen fibril mechanics.
    Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 11/2014; 39:9–26. DOI:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2014.06.015
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    ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs are short non-coding single stranded RNAs that regulate gene expression. While much is known about the effects of individual microRNAs, there is now growing evidence that they can work in co-operative networks. MicroRNAs are known to be dysregulated in many diseases and affect pathways involved in the pathology. We investigated dysregulation of microRNA networks using asthma as the disease model. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airway remodelling. The airway epithelium is a major contributor to asthma pathology and has been shown to produce an excess of inflammatory and pro-remodelling cytokines such as TGF-β, IL-6 and IL-8 as well as deficient amounts of anti-viral interferons. After performing microRNA arrays, we found that microRNAs -18a, -27a, -128 and -155 are down-regulated in asthmatic bronchial epithelial cells, compared to cells from healthy donors. Interestingly, these microRNAs are predicted in silico to target several components of the TGF-β, IL-6, IL-8 and interferons pathways. Manipulation of the levels of individual microRNAs in bronchial epithelial cells did not have an effect on any of these pathways. Importantly, knock-down of the network of microRNAs miR-18a, -27a, -128 and -155 led to a significant increase of IL-8 and IL-6 expression. Interestingly, despite strong in silico predictions, down-regulation of the pool of microRNAs did not have an effect on the TGF-β and Interferon pathways. In conclusion, using both bioinformatics and experimental tools we found a highly relevant potential role for microRNA dysregulation in the control of IL-6 and IL-8 expression in asthma. Our results suggest that microRNAs may have different roles depending on the presence of other microRNAs. Thus, interpretation of in silico analysis of microRNA function should be confirmed experimentally in the relevant cellular context taking into account interactions with other microRNAs when studying disease.
    PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e111659. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0111659
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    ABSTRACT: Rationale Ex vivo asthmatic bronchial epithelial cells are more susceptible to rhinovirus infection due to deficient induction of the anti-viral protein, interferon-beta. Exogenous interferon-beta restores anti-viral activity. Objectives To compare the efficacy and safety of inhaled interferon-beta to placebo administered to asthmatic patients after onset of cold symptoms for the prevention or attenuation of asthma symptoms caused by respiratory viruses. Methods 147 asthmatics on inhaled corticosteroids (British Thoracic Society Steps 2-5), with a history of virus-associated exacerbations, underwent 14-day treatment with inhaled interferon-beta (n=72) or placebo (n=75) within 24 hours of developing cold symptoms and were assessed clinically, with relevant samples collected to assess virus infection and anti-viral responses. Patients were randomised according to a pre-specified computer-generated schedule, stratified by site. Results 91% of randomised patients developed a defined cold. In this modified intention-to-treat population, asthma symptoms did not get clinically significantly worse (mean change in 6-item Asthma Control Questionnaire <0.5) and interferon-beta treatment had no significant effect. However, in a subset of more difficult-to-treat, Step 4/5 asthmatics (n=27 interferon-beta; n=31 Placebo) Asthma Control Questionnaire-6 increased significantly on placebo; this was prevented by interferon-beta (p=0.004). Additionally, in the whole modified intention-to-treat population, interferon-beta enhanced morning peak expiratory flow recovery (p=0.033), reduced the need for additional treatment, and boosted innate immunity as assessed by blood and sputum biomarker responses. Interferon-beta was well tolerated. Conclusions This trial suggests that inhaled interferon-beta is a potential treatment for virus-induced exacerbations in difficult-to-treat asthmatics and justifies further, adequately powered, trials in this patient population. Trial registration NCT01126177 Funding Synairgen Research Limited, U.K.
    American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 06/2014; DOI:10.1164/rccm.201312-2235OC
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    ABSTRACT: In response to viral infection, bronchial epithelial cells increase inflammatory cytokine release to activate the immune response and curtail viral replication. In atopic asthma, enhanced expression of Th2 cytokines is observed and we postulated that Th2 cytokines may augment the effects of rhinovirus-induced inflammation. Primary bronchial epithelial cell cultures from pediatric subjects were treated with Th2 cytokines for 24 h before infection with RV16. Release of IL-8, IP-10 and GM-CSF was measured by ELISA. Infection was quantified using RTqPCR and TCID50. Phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and P38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors and dexamethasone were used to investigate differences in signaling pathways. The presence of Th2 cytokines did not affect RV replication or viral titre, yet there was a synergistic increase in IP-10 release from virally infected cells in the presence of Th2 cytokines. Release of IL-8 and GM-CSF was also augmented. IP-10 release was blocked by a PI3K inhibitor and IL-8 by dexamethasone. Th2 cytokines increase release of inflammatory cytokines in the presence of rhinovirus infection. This increase is independent of effects of virus replication. Inhibition of the PI3K pathway inhibits IP-10 expression.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e94010. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0094010
  • Matthew Loxham, Donna E. Davies, Cornelia Blume
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    ABSTRACT: Asthma was previously defined as an allergic Th2‐mediated inflammatory immune disorder. Recently, this paradigm has been challenged because not all pathological changes observed in the asthmatic airways are adequately explained simply as a result of Th2‐mediated processes. Contemporary thought holds that asthma is a complex immune disorder involving innate as well as adaptive immune responses, with the clinical heterogeneity of asthma perhaps a result of the different relative contribution of these two systems to the disease. Epidemiological studies show that exposure to certain environmental substances is strongly associated with the risk of developing asthma. The airway epithelium is first barrier to interact with, and respond to, environmental agents (pollution, viral infection, allergens), suggesting that it is a key player in the pathology of asthma. Epithelial cells play a key role in the regulation of tissue homeostasis by the modulation of numerous molecules, from antioxidants and lipid mediators to growth factors, cytokines, and chemokines. Additionally, the epithelium is also able to suppress mechanisms involved in, for example, inflammation in order to maintain homeostasis. An intrinsic alteration or defect in these regulation mechanisms compromises the epithelial barrier, and therefore, the barrier may be more prone to environmental substances and thus more likely to exhibit an asthmatic phenotype. In support of this, polymorphisms in a number of genes that are expressed in the bronchial epithelium have been linked to asthma susceptibility, while environmental factors may affect epigenetic mechanisms that can alter epithelial function and response to environmental insults. A detailed understanding of the regulatory role of the airway epithelium is required to develop new therapeutic strategies for asthma that not only address the symptoms but also the underlining pathogenic mechanism(s) and prevent airway remodelling.
    Clinical & Experimental Allergy 03/2014; 44(11). DOI:10.1111/cea.12309
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    ABSTRACT: Diesel exhaust is associated with cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and morbidity. Acute exposure leads to increased IL-8 expression and airway neutrophilia, however the mechanism of this response is unknown. Objectives: As cigarette smoke-induced IL-8 expression by epithelial cells involves transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), we studied the effects of diesel exhaust particles (DEP) on IL-8 release and the role of the EGFR. Primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBEC) were exposed to DEPs or carbon black. IL-8 and EGFR ligand expression (transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha), heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor, and amphiregulin (AR)) were assessed by quantitative RT-PCR and ELISA. DEP, but not carbon black, caused a dose-dependent increase in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation and IL-8 expression, however above 50mug/ml there was an increase in cytotoxicity. At 50mug/ml, DEPs stimulated transcription and release of IL-8 and EGFR ligands. IL-8 release was blocked by EGFR neutralizing antibodies, an EGFR-selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor and by the metalloprotease inhibitor, GM6001, which blocks EGFR ligand shedding. Neutralizing antibodies to AR, TGFalpha and heparin-binding (HB)-EGF reduced DEP-induced IL-8 by >50%.Conclusion Expression of IL-8 in response to DEPs is dependent on EGFR activation and that autocrine production of EGFR ligands makes a substantial contribution to this response. Capsule Summary: This study identifies a mechanism whereby diesel particles stimulates IL-8 release from bronchial epithelial cells. This mechanism may help to explain the recruitment of neutrophils into the airways of people exposed to particulate air pollution.
    Respiratory research 02/2014; 15(1):22. DOI:10.1186/1465-9921-15-22
  • Christopher L Grainge, Donna E Davies
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    ABSTRACT: Asthma is a common chronic disease characterized by variable respiratory distress with underlying airway inflammation and airflow obstruction. The incidence of asthma has risen inexorably over the past 50 years, suggesting that environmental factors are important in its etiology. All inhaled environmental stimuli interact with the lung at the respiratory epithelium, and it is a testament to the effectiveness of the airway innate defenses that the majority of inhaled substances are cleared without the need to elicit an inflammatory response. However, once this barrier is breached, effective communication with immune and inflammatory cells is required to protect the internal milieu of the lung. In asthma, the respiratory epithelium is known to be structurally and functionally abnormal. Structurally, the epithelium shows evidence of damage and has more mucus-producing cells than normal airways. Functionally, the airway epithelial barrier can be more permeable and more sensitive to oxidants and show a deficient innate immune response to respiratory virus infection compared with that in normal individuals. The potential of a susceptible epithelium and the underlying mesenchyme to create a microenvironment that enables deviation of immune and inflammatory responses to external stimuli may be crucial in the development and progression of asthma. In this review, we consider three important groups of environmental stimuli on the epithelium in asthma: oxidants, such as environmental pollution and acetaminophen; viruses, including rhinovirus; and agents that cause barrier disruption, such as house dust mite allergens. The pathology associated with each stimulus is considered, and potential future treatments arising from research on their effects are presented.
    Chest 12/2013; 144(6):1906-12. DOI:10.1378/chest.12-1944
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    ABSTRACT: Asthma exacerbations are among the most frequent causes of hospitalization during childhood, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We performed a genome-wide association study of a specific asthma phenotype characterized by recurrent, severe exacerbations occurring between 2 and 6 years of age in a total of 1,173 cases and 2,522 controls. Cases were identified from national health registries of hospitalization, and DNA was obtained from the Danish Neonatal Screening Biobank. We identified five loci with genome-wide significant association. Four of these, GSDMB, IL33, RAD50 and IL1RL1, were previously reported as asthma susceptibility loci, but the effect sizes for these loci in our cohort were considerably larger than in the previous genome-wide association studies of asthma. We also obtained strong evidence for a new susceptibility gene, CDHR3 (encoding cadherin-related family member 3), which is highly expressed in airway epithelium. These results demonstrate the strength of applying specific phenotyping in the search for asthma susceptibility genes.
    Nature Genetics 11/2013; DOI:10.1038/ng.2830
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    ABSTRACT: Interleukin-4 (IL-4) and Interleukin-13 (IL-13), key cytokines in the pathogenesis of allergic inflammatory disease, mediate their effects via a receptor composed of IL-13Rα1 and IL-4Rα. A third (decoy) receptor called IL-13Rα2 regulates interleukin signaling through this receptor complex. We employed a variety of biophysical and cell-based techniques to decipher the role of this decoy receptor in mediating IL-4 signaling though the IL-4Rα-IL-13Rα1 receptor complex. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) analysis showed that IL-13Rα2 does not bind IL-4, and does not affect binding of IL-4 to IL-4Rα. These results indicate that the extracellular domains of IL-4Rα and IL-13Rα2 are not involved in the regulation of IL-4 signaling by IL-13Rα2. We next used a two-hybrid system to show that the cytoplasmic domains of IL-4Rα and IL-13Rα2 interact, and that the secondary structure of the IL-13Rα2 intracellular domain is critical for this interaction. The cellular relevance of this interaction was next investigated. BEAS-2B bronchial epithelial cells that stably express full length IL-13Rα2, or IL-13Rα2 lacking its cytoplasmic domain, were established. Over expression of IL-13Rα2 attenuated IL-4 and IL-13 mediated STAT6 phosphorylation. IL-13Rα2 lacking its cytoplasmic domain continued to attenuate IL-13-mediated signaling, but had no effect on IL-4-mediated STAT6 signaling. Our results suggest that the physical interaction between the cytoplasmic domains of IL-13Rα2 and IL-4Rα regulates IL-4 signaling through the IL-4Rα-IL-13Rα1 receptor complex.
    Molecular BioSystems 09/2013; DOI:10.1039/c3mb70298g
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic damage and repair of the bronchial epithelium are features of asthma. We have previously reported that ex vivo stimulation of normal bronchial epithelial cells with epidermal growth factor (EGF), a key factor of epithelial repair, enhances the mechanisms of neutrophil accumulation, thereby promoting neutrophil defences during acute injury but potentially enhancing inflammation in chronic airway diseases. We have now sought to (i) determine whether this EGF-dependent pro-neutrophil activity is increased in asthma, where EGF and its epithelial receptor are over-expressed, and (ii) elucidate some of the mechanisms underlying this asthmatic epithelial-neutrophil interaction. Primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBEC) from healthy subjects, mild asthmatics and moderate-to-severe asthmatics (Mod/Sev) were stimulated with EGF, a model that mimics a repairing epithelium. Conditioned culture media (EGF-CM) were assessed for neutrophil chemotactic and anti-apoptotic activities and inflammatory mediator production. EGF induced the epithelium to produce soluble mediators with neutrophil chemotactic (p<0.001) and pro-survival (p = 0.021) activities which were related to the clinical severity of asthma (trend p = 0.010 and p = 0.009, respectively). This was associated with enhanced IL-6, IL-8, GM-CSF and TNF-α release, and cytokine-neutralising experiments using EGF-CM from Mod/Sev asthmatics demonstrated a role for GM-CSF in neutrophil survival (p<0.001). Pre-treatment of neutrophils with specific inhibitors of the myeloid-restricted class I phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) isoforms showed that the EGF-CM from Mod/Sev asthmatics depended on the γ (p<0.021) but not δ isoforms, while neutrophil survival required multiple class I PI(3)Ks. The EGF-induced chemotactic, but not pro-survival activity, involved RhoA signaling in neutrophils (p = 0.012). EGF whose activity is upregulated in asthma induces ex vivo the epithelium from asthmatic patients to produce pro-neutrophil activities; these are related to asthma severity and, in moderate-to-severe asthmatics, involves class IB PI(3)Kγ signaling, providing a potential therapeutic target for neutrophilic forms of asthma.
    PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e72502. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0072502
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    ABSTRACT: Sensitization and exposure to the allergenic fungus Alternaria alternata has been associated with increased risk of asthma and asthma exacerbations. The first cells to encounter inhaled allergens are epithelial cells at the airway mucosal surface. Epithelial barrier function has previously been reported to be defective in asthma. This study investigated the contribution of proteases from Alternaria alternata on epithelial barrier function and inflammatory responses and compared responses of in vitro cultures of differentiated bronchial epithelial cells derived from severely asthmatic donors with those from non-asthmatic controls. Polarised 16HBE cells or air-liquid interface (ALI) bronchial epithelial cultures from non-asthmatic or severe asthmatic donors were challenged apically with extracts of Alternaria and changes in inflammatory cytokine release and transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) were measured. Protease activity in Alternaria extracts was characterised and the effect of selectively inhibiting protease activity on epithelial responses was examined using protease inhibitors and heat-treatment. In 16HBE cells, Alternaria extracts stimulated release of IL-8 and TNFα, with concomitant reduction in TER; these effects were prevented by heat-treatment of the extracts. Examination of the effects of protease inhibitors suggested that serine proteases were the predominant class of proteases mediating these effects. ALI cultures from asthmatic donors exhibited a reduced IL-8 response to Alternaria relative to those from healthy controls, while neither responded with increased thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) release. Only cultures from asthmatic donors were susceptible to the barrier-weakening effects of Alternaria. Therefore, the bronchial epithelium of severely asthmatic individuals may be more susceptible to the deleterious effects of Alternaria.
    PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e71278. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0071278
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Because TNF-α is increased in severe asthma, we hypothesized that TNF-α contributes to barrier dysfunction and cell activation in bronchial epithelial cells. We further hypothesized that src-family kinase inhibition would improve barrier function in healthy cells in the presence of TNF-α and directly in cultures of severe asthmatic cells where the barrier is disrupted. OBJECTIVES: We assessed the effect of TNF-α, with or without src-family kinase inhibitor SU6656, on barrier properties and cytokine release in differentiated human bronchial epithelial cultures. Further, we tested the effect of SU6656 on differentiated primary cultures from severe asthma. METHODS: Barrier properties of differentiated human bronchial epithelial air-liquid interface cultures from healthy subjects and subjects with severe asthma were assessed with transepithelial electrical resistance and fluorescent dextran passage. Proteins were detected by immunostaining or Western blot analysis and cytokines by immunoassay. Mechanisms were investigated with src kinase and other inhibitors. RESULTS: TNF-α lowered transepithelial electrical resistance and increased fluorescent dextran permeability, caused loss of occludin and claudins from tight junctions with redistribution of p120 catenin and E-cadherin from adherens junctions, and also increased endogenous TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, IL-8, thymic stromal lymphoprotein, and pro-matrix metalloprotease 9 release. SU6656 reduced TNF-α-mediated paracellular permeability changes, restored occludin, p120, and E-cadherin and lowered autocrine TNF-α release. Importantly, SU6656 improved the barrier properties of severe asthmatic air-liquid interface cultures. Redistribution of E-cadherin and p120 was observed in bronchial biopsies from severe asthmatic airways. CONCLUSIONS: Inhibiting TNF-α or src kinases may be a therapeutic option to normalize barrier integrity and cytokine release in airway diseases associated with barrier dysfunction.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 04/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.03.005
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    ABSTRACT: Underground railway stations are known to have elevated particulate matter (PM) loads compared to ambient air. As these particles are derived from metal-rich sources and transition metals may pose a risk to health by virtue of their ability to catalyze generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), their potential enrichment in underground environments is a source of concern. Compared to coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particulate fractions of underground railway airborne PM, little is known about the chemistry of the ultrafine (PM0.1) fraction which may contribute significantly to particulate number and surface area concentrations. This study uses inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and ion chromatography to compare the elemental composition of size-fractionated underground PM with woodstove, roadwear generator, and road tunnel PM. Underground PM is notably rich in Fe, accounting for >40% by mass of each fraction, and several other transition metals (Cu, Cr, Mn, Zn) compared to PM from other sources. Importantly, ultrafine underground PM shows similar metal-rich concentrations as the coarse and fine fractions. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that a component of the coarse fraction of underground PM has a morphology indicative of generation by abrasion, absent for fine and ultrafine particulates, which may derive from high temperature processes. Furthermore. underground PM generated ROS in a concentration- and size-dependent manner. This study suggests that the potential health effects of exposure to the ultrafine fraction of underground PM warrant further investigation as a consequence of its greater surface area:volume ratio and high metal content.
    Environmental Science & Technology 03/2013; 47(8). DOI:10.1021/es304481m
  • Cornelia Blume, Donna E Davies
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    ABSTRACT: Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the conducting airways which undergo distinct structural and functional changes leading to non-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) and airflow obstruction that fluctuate over time. It is a complex disease involving multiple genetic and environmental influences whose multifactorial interactions can result in a range of asthma phenotypes. Since our understanding of these gene-gene and gene-environment interactions is very poor, this poses a major challenge to the logical development of 'models of asthma'. However, use of cells and tissues from asthmatic donors allows genetic and epigenetic influences to be evaluated, and can go some way to reflect the complex interplay between genetic and environmental stimuli that occur in vivo. Current alternative approaches to in vivo animal models involve use of a plethora of systems ranging from very simple models using human cells (eg. bronchial epithelial cells and fibroblasts) in mono- or co-culture, whole tissue explants (biopsies, muscle strips, bronchial rings) through to in vivo studies in human volunteers. Asthma research has been greatly facilitated by the introduction of fibreoptic bronchoscopy which is now a commonly used technique in the field of respiratory disease research, allowing collection of biopsy specimens, bronchial brushing samples, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid enabling use of disease-derived cells and tissues in some of these models. Here we will consider the merits and limitations of current models and discuss the potential of tissue engineering approaches through which we aim to advance our understanding of asthma and its treatment.
    European journal of pharmaceutics and biopharmaceutics: official journal of Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Pharmazeutische Verfahrenstechnik e.V 01/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.ejpb.2012.12.014
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    ABSTRACT: The airway epithelium forms a physical, chemical and immunological barrier against inhaled environmental substances. In asthma, these barrier properties are thought to be abnormal. Here, we analysed the effect of grass pollen on the physical and immunological barrier properties of differentiated human primary bronchial epithelial cells.Following exposure to Timothy grass (Phleum pratense) pollen extract, the integrity of the physical barrier was not impaired as monitored by measuring the transepithelial resistance and immunofluorescence staining of tight junction proteins. In contrast, pollen exposure affected the immunological barrier properties by modulating vectorial mediator release. CXCL8/IL-8 showed the greatest increase in response to pollen exposure with preferential release to the apical compartment. Inhibition of the ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK pathways selectively blocked apical CXCL8/IL-8 release via a post transcriptional mechanism. Apical release of CCL20/MIP-3α, CCL22/MDC and TNFα was significantly increased only in severe asthma cultures, while CCL11/eotaxin-1 and CXCL10/IP-10 were reduced in non-asthmatic cultures.The bronchial epithelial barrier modulates polarised release of mediators in response to pollen without direct effects on its physical barrier properties. The differential response of cells from normal and asthmatic donors suggests the potential for the bronchial epithelium to promote immune dysfunction in asthma.
    European Respiratory Journal 11/2012; 42(1). DOI:10.1183/09031936.00075612

Publication Stats

5k Citations
742.77 Total Impact Points


  • 1992–2015
    • University of Southampton
      • • Faculty of Medicine
      • • Southampton Biomedical Research Unit - Respiratory
      Southampton, England, United Kingdom
  • 2014
    • Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2006–2012
    • WWF United Kingdom
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1998
    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
      • Life Sciences Division
      Oak Ridge, Florida, United States
  • 1994
    • University of Nottingham
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom