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(1/2860) Emergent immunoregulatory properties of combined glucocorticoid and anti-glucocorticoid steroids in a model of tuberculosis.

In Balb/c mice with pulmonary tuberculosis, there is a switch from a protective Th1-dominated cytokine profile to a non-protective profile with a Th2 component. This switch occurs while the adrenals are undergoing marked hyperplasia. Treatment with the anti-glucocorticoid hormones dehydroepiandrosterone or 3 beta, 17 beta-androstenediol, during the period of adrenal hyperplasia, maintains Th1 dominance and is protective. We investigated the effects of these hormones as therapeutic agents by administering them from day 60, when the switch to the non-protective cytokine profile was already well established. Given at this time (day 60), doses that were protective when given early (from day 0) were rapidly fatal. A physiological dose of the glucocorticoid corticosterone was also rapidly fatal. However when the corticosterone and the anti-glucocorticoid (AED or DHEA) were co-administered, there was protection, with restoration of a Th1-dominated cytokine profile, enhanced DTH responses, and enhanced expression of IL-1 alpha and TNF alpha. Therefore this combination of steroids has an emergent property that is quite unlike that of either type of steroid given alone. It may be possible to exploit the ant-inflammatory properties of glucocorticoids while preserving a Th1 bias, by combining glucocorticoids with DHEA or suitable metabolites.  (+info)

(2/2860) Biophysical characterization of a designed TMV coat protein mutant, R46G, that elicits a moderate hypersensitivity response in Nicotiana sylvestris.

The hypersensitivity resistance response directed by the N' gene in Nicotiana sylvestris is elicited by the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) coat protein R46G, but not by the U1 wild-type TMV coat protein. In this study, the structural and hydrodynamic properties of R46G and wild-type coat proteins were compared for variations that may explain N' gene elicitation. Circular dichroism spectroscopy reveals no significant secondary or tertiary structural differences between the elicitor and nonelicitor coat proteins. Analytical ultracentrifugation studies, however, do show different concentration dependencies of the weight average sedimentation coefficients at 4 degrees C. Viral reconstitution kinetics at 20 degrees C were used to determine viral assembly rates and as an initial assay of the rate of 20S formation, the obligate species for viral reconstitution. These kinetic results reveal a decreased lag time for reconstitution performed with R46G that initially lack the 20S aggregate. However, experiments performed with 20S initially present reveal no detectable differences indicating that the mechanism of viral assembly is similar for the two coat protein species. Therefore, an increased rate of 20S formation from R46G subunits may explain the differences in the viral reconstitution lag times. The inferred increase in the rate of 20S formation is verified by direct measurement of the 20S boundary as a function of time at 20 degrees C using velocity sedimentation analysis. These results are consistent with the interpretation that there may be an altered size distribution and/or lifetime of the small coat protein aggregates in elicitors that allows N. sylvestris to recognize the invading virus.  (+info)

(3/2860) Vascularity in asthmatic airways: relation to inhaled steroid dose.

BACKGROUND: There is an increase in vascularity in the asthmatic airway. Although inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are an effective anti-inflammatory treatment in asthma, there are few data on any effects on structural changes. METHODS: Endobronchial biopsy specimens from seven asthmatic subjects not receiving ICS and 15 receiving 200-1500 microg/day beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) were immunohistochemically stained with an anti-collagen type IV antibody to outline the endothelial basement membrane of the vessels. These were compared with biopsy tissue from 11 non-asthmatic controls (four atopic and seven non-atopic). RESULTS: There was a significant increase in the density of vessels (number of vessels/mm2 of lamina propria) in the asthmatic subjects not on ICS compared with non-asthmatic controls (mean 485 (interquartile range (IQR) 390-597) versus 329 (IQR 248-376) vessels/mm2, p<0.05; 95% CI for the difference 48 to 286). There was no significant difference between asthmatic subjects on ICS and those not on ICS or control subjects in the number of vessels/mm2 (mean 421 (IQR 281-534)). However, patients who received >/=800 microg/day BDP tended to have a reduced number of vessels/mm2 compared with patients not on ICS and those receiving +info)

(4/2860) IL-10-induced anergy in peripheral T cell and reactivation by microenvironmental cytokines: two key steps in specific immunotherapy.

Specific immunotherapy (SIT) is widely used for treatment of allergic diseases and could potentially be applied in other immunological disorders. Induction of specific unresponsiveness (anergy) in peripheral T cells and recovery by cytokines from the tissue microenvironment represent two key steps in SIT with whole allergen or antigenic T cell peptides (PIT). The anergy is directed against the T cell epitopes of the respective antigen and characterized by suppressed proliferative and cytokine responses. It is initiated by autocrine action of IL-10, which is increasingly produced by the antigen-specific T cells. Later in therapy, B cells and monocytes also produce IL-10. The anergic T cells can be reactivated by different cytokines. Whereas IL-15 and IL-2 generate Th1 cytokine profile and an IgG4 antibody response, IL-4 reactivates a Th2 cytokine pattern and IgE antibodies. Increased IL-10 suppresses IgE and enhances IgG4 synthesis, resulting in a decreased antigen-specific IgE:IgG4 ratio, as observed normally in patients after SIT or PIT. The same state of anergy against the major bee venom allergen, phospholipase A2, can be observed in subjects naturally anergized after multiple bee stings. Together, these data demonstrate the pivotal role of autocrine IL-10 in induction of specific T cell anergy and the important participation of the cytokine microenvironment in SIT. Furthermore, knowledge of the mechanisms explaining reasons for success or failure of SIT may enable possible predictive measures of the treatment.  (+info)

(5/2860) Pen c 1, a novel enzymic allergen protein from Penicillium citrinum. Purification, characterization, cloning and expression.

A 33-kDa alkaline serine protease secreted by Penicillium citrinum strain 52-5 is shown to be an allergenic agent in this fungus. The protein, designated Pen c 1, was purified by sequential DEAE-Sepharose and carboxymethyl (CM)-Sepharose chromatographies. Pen c 1 has a molecular mass of 33 kDa and a pI of 7.1. The caseinolytic enzyme activity of this protein was studied. The protein binds to serum IgE from patients allergic to Penicillium citrinum. The cDNA encoding Pen c 1 is 1420 bp in length and contains an open reading frame for a 397-amino-acid polypeptide. Pen c 1 codes for a larger precursor containing a signal peptide, a propeptide and the 33-kDa mature protein. Sequence comparison revealed that Pen c 1 possesses several features in common with the alkaline serine proteases of the subtilisin family. The essential Asp, His, and Ser residues that make up the catalytic triad of serine proteases are well conserved. Northern blots demonstrated that mRNAs transcribed from this gene are present at early stages of culture. The allergen encoded by Pen c 1 gene was expressed in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein bearing an N-terminal histidine-affinity tag. The protein, purified by affinity chromatography with a yield of 130 mg of pure protein per liter of culture, was able to bind to both a monoclonal anti-Pen c 1 antibody and IgE from the serum of patients allergic to Penicillium. Recombinant Pen c 1 can therefore be expressed in E. coli in large quantities and should prove useful as a standardized specific allergen for immuno-diagnosis of atopic disorders. In addition, full caseinolytic enzyme activity could be generated in the purified recombinant protein by sulfonation and renaturation, followed by removal of the affinity tag, indicating that the refolded protein can assume the same conformation as the native protein.  (+info)

(6/2860) In vitro and skin testing for allergy: comparable clinical utility and costs.

Controversy exists concerning the appropriate use of skin testing and in vitro testing for the diagnosis of allergy, particularly inhalant allergy. Earlier comparisons of skin testing and in vitro testing concluded that skin testing had superior accuracy at lower expense. In light of new developments with in vitro allergy testing, however, this issue should be reconsidered. A review of the recent scientific literature indicates that in vitro and skin testing are highly correlated. However, without the existence of an independent gold standard for inhalant allergy, it is not possible to determine which test is more accurate. The accuracy of either test can be compromised if conducted using different protocols or having insufficient quality control. Given their respective trajectories for technological advancement, quantification, and quality control, in vitro testing may offer the more standardized approach. Although the cost per test of in vitro testing remains greater than that of skin testing, the per-patient costs of the two modalities appear to be comparable, given the greater number of allergens typically used in skin testing. In summary, both skin testing and in vitro testing are acceptable as frontline diagnostic tools.  (+info)

(7/2860) Characterization of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected natural killer (NK) cell proliferation in patients with severe mosquito allergy; establishment of an IL-2-dependent NK-like cell line.

The clinical evidence of a relationship between severe hypersensitivity to mosquito bite (HMB) and clonal expansion of EBV-infected NK cells has been accumulated. In order to clarify the mechanism of EBV-induced NK cell proliferation and its relationship with high incidence of leukaemias or lymphomas in HMB patients, we studied clonally expanded NK cells from three HMB patients and succeeded in establishing an EBV-infected NK-like cell line designated KAI3. Immunoblotting and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses revealed that KAI3 cells as well as infected NK cells exhibited an EBV latent infection type II, where EBV gene expression was limited to EBNA 1 and LMP1. As KAI3 was established by culture with IL-2, IL-2 responsiveness of peripheral blood NK cells from patients was examined. The results represented markedly augmented IL-2-induced IL-2R alpha expression in NK cells. This characteristic property may contribute to the persistent expansion of infected NK cells. However, KAI3 cells as well as the NK cells from patients were not protected from apoptosis induced by either an anti-Fas antibody or NK-sensitive K562 cells. Preserved sensitivity to apoptosis might explain the relatively regulated NK cell numbers in the peripheral blood of the patients. To our knowledge, KAI3 is the first reported NK-like cell line established from patients of severe chronic active EBV infection (SCAEBV) before the onset of leukaemias or lymphomas. KAI3 cells will contribute to the study of EBV persistency in the NK cell environment and its relationship with high incidence of leukaemias or lymphomas in HMB patients.  (+info)

(8/2860) Detection of allergen-induced basophil activation by expression of CD63 antigen using a tricolour flow cytometric method.

In the field of allergy diagnosis, most in vitro functional tests are focused on basophils. Nevertheless, the very small number of circulating basophils limits these experiments and their clinical benefit remains controversial. As flow cytometry is a valuable tool for identifying cell populations, even at low concentrations, we developed a tricolour flow cytometric method for the study of allergen-induced basophil activation. Identification of cells was based both on CD45 expression and on the presence of IgE on the cell surface, since basophils express high-affinity receptors for IgE (Fc epsilon RI). Cell activation upon allergen challenge was assessed by the expression of CD63 antigen on the plasma membrane. Basophil isolation and activation (with the chemotactic peptide formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine) were validated in 32 non-allergic patients. In 12 allergic patients, basophil stimulation by a relevant allergen was in most cases positive (10/12). Furthermore a concentration-dependent hook effect was observed. Of the allergic and non-allergic patients, none showed non-specific activation with an irrelevant allergen (specificity 100%). Overall, our preliminary results, even in a small population, suggest that this is a reliable and valuable method for the diagnosis of allergies complementing specific allergen IgE and skin test results. Obviously, additional clinical studies are needed to validate these first results.  (+info)