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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016 Oct 1;194(7):807-820.

A Novel CD4+ T Cell-Dependent Murine Model of Pneumocystis-driven Asthma-like Pathology.

Author information

1
1 Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and.
2
2 Department of Immunology.
3
3 Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, and.
4
4 Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
5
5 Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care, and Environmental Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.
6
6 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Infection with Pneumocystis, an opportunistic fungal pathogen, can result in fulminant pneumonia in the clinical setting of patients with immunosuppression. In murine models, Pneumocystis has previously been shown to induce a CD4+ T cell-dependent eosinophilic response in the lung capable of providing protection.

OBJECTIVES:

We sought to explore the role of Pneumocystis in generating asthma-like lung pathology, given the natural eosinophilic response to infection.

METHODS:

Pneumocystis infection or antigen treatment was used to induce asthma-like pathology in wild-type mice. The roles of CD4+ T cells and eosinophils were examined using antibody depletion and knockout mice, respectively. The presence of anti-Pneumocystis antibodies in human serum samples was detected by ELISA and Western blotting.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:

Pneumocystis infection generates a strong type II response in the lung that requires CD4+ T cells. Pneumocystis infection was capable of priming a Th2 response similar to that of a commonly studied airway allergen, the house dust mite. Pneumocystis antigen treatment was also capable of inducing allergic inflammation in the lung, resulting in anti-Pneumocystis IgE production, goblet cell hyperplasia, and increased airway resistance. In the human population, patients with severe asthma had increased levels of anti-Pneumocystis IgG and IgE compared with healthy control subjects. Patients with severe asthma with elevated anti-Pneumocystis IgG levels had worsened symptom scores and lung parameters such as decreased forced expiratory volume and increased residual volume compared with patients with severe asthma who had low anti-Pneumocystis IgG.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present study demonstrates for the first time, to our knowledge, that Pneumocystis is an airway allergen capable of inducing asthma-like lung pathology.

KEYWORDS:

Pneumocystis; T cells; allergic inflammation; asthma

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