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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2013 Aug;49(2):279-87. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2012-0403OC.

Epigenetic alterations by DNA methylation in house dust mite-induced airway hyperresponsiveness.

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Department of Respiratory Diseases, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.


Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic lung diseases, affecting 235 million individuals around the world, with its related morbidity and mortality increasing steadily over the last 20 years. Exposure to the environmental allergen, house dust mite (HDM), results in airway inflammation with a variable degree of airway obstruction. Although there has been much experimental work in the past using HDM challenge models to understand mechanistic details in allergic inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), there has been no study on reprogramming of lung or airways mediated through epigenetic mechanisms in response to an acute HDM exposure. Male mice, 6 weeks of age, were administrated HDM extracts or saline at Days 1, 14, and 21. Exposure of mice to HDM extracts caused significant airway inflammation and increased AHR. These HDM-challenged mice also exhibited a change in global DNA methylation as compared with saline-exposed (control) mice. Next, by employing methylation-sensitive restriction fingerprinting, we identified a set of genes, showing aberrant methylation status, associated with the HDM-induced AHR. These candidate genes are known to be involved in cAMP signaling (pde4 d), Akt-signaling (akt1 s1), ion transport (tm6 sf1, pom121l2, and slc8a3), and fatty acid metabolism (acsl3). Slc8a3 and acsl3 were down-regulated, whereas pde4 d, akt1 s1, tm6 sf1, and pom121l2 were up-regulated in the mice exposed to HDM. Hence, our results suggest that HDM exposure induces a series of aberrant methylated genes that are potentially important for the development of allergic AHR.

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