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J Immunol. 2009 Aug 1;183(3):2115-21. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0900826. Epub 2009 Jul 13.

Maternal exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke primes the lung for induction of phosphodiesterase-4D5 isozyme and exacerbated Th2 responses: rolipram attenuates the airway hyperreactivity and muscarinic receptor expression but not lung inflammation and atopy.

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Respiratory Immunology Division, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, NM 87108, USA.


Airway hyperreactivity (AHR), lung inflammation, and atopy are clinical signs of allergic asthma. Gestational exposure to cigarette smoke (CS) markedly increases the risk for childhood allergic asthma. Muscarinic receptors regulate airway smooth muscle tone, and asthmatics exhibit increased AHR to muscarinic agonists. We have previously reported that in a murine model of bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, maternal exposure to mainstream CS increases AHR after acute intratracheal administration of Aspergillus fumigatus extract. However, the mechanism by which gestational CS induces allergic asthma is unclear. We now show for the first time that, compared with controls, mice exposed prenatally to secondhand CS exhibit increased lung inflammation (predominant infiltration by eosinophils and polymorphs), atopy, and airway resistance, and produce proinflammatory cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, and IL-13, but not IL-2 or IFN-gamma). These changes, which occur only after an allergen (A. fumigatus extract) treatment, are correlated with marked up-regulated lung expression of M1, M2, and M3 muscarinic receptors and phosphodiesterase (PDE)4D5 isozyme. Interestingly, the PDE4-selective inhibitor rolipram attenuates the increase in AHR, muscarinic receptors, and PDE4D5, but fails to down-regulate lung inflammation, Th2 cytokines, or serum IgE levels. Thus, the fetus is extraordinarily sensitive to CS, inducing allergic asthma after postnatal exposure to allergens. Although the increased AHR might reflect increased PDE4D5 and muscarinic receptor expression, the mechanisms underlying atopy and lung inflammation are unrelated to the PDE4 activity. Thus, PDE4 inhibitors might ease AHR, but are unlikely to attenuate lung inflammation and atopy associated with childhood allergic asthma.

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