Th2 T cell immune-driven inflammation plays an important role in allergic asthma. We studied the effect of counterbalancing Th1 T cells in an asthma model in Brown Norway rats that favors Th2 responses. Rats received i.v. transfers of syngeneic allergen-specific Th1 or Th2 cells, 24 h before aerosol exposure to allergen, and were studied 18-24 h later. Adoptive transfer of OVA-specific Th2 cells, but not Th1 cells, and OVA, but not BSA exposure, induced bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) to acetylcholine and eosinophilia in a cell number-dependent manner. Importantly, cotransfer of OVA-specific Th1 cells dose-dependently reversed BHR and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) eosinophilia, but not mucosal eosinophilia. OVA-specific Th1 cells transferred alone induced mucosal eosinophilia, but neither BHR nor BAL eosinophilia. Th1 suppression of BHR and BAL eosinophilia was allergen specific, since cotransfer of BSA-specific Th1 cells with the OVA-specific Th2 cells was not inhibitory when OVA aerosol alone was used, but was suppressive with OVA and BSA challenge. Furthermore, recipients of Th1 cells alone had increased gene expression for IFN-gamma in the lungs, while those receiving Th2 cells alone showed increased IL-4 mRNA. Importantly, induction of these Th2 cytokines was inhibited in recipients of combined Th1 and Th2 cells. Anti-IFN-gamma treatment attenuated the down-regulatory effect of Th1 cells. Allergen-specific Th1 cells down-regulate efferent Th2 cytokine-dependent BHR and BAL eosinophilia in an asthma model via mechanisms that depend on IFN-gamma. Therapy designed to control the efferent phase of established asthma by augmenting down-regulatory Th1 counterbalancing mechanisms should be effective.
BACKGROUND: Chronic inflammation in asthmatic airways can lead to characteristic airway smooth muscle (ASM) thickening and pathological changes within the airway wall. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the long-term effects of repeated allergen exposure. METHODS: Brown-Norway (BN) rats sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) were exposed to OVA or saline aerosol every third day on six occasions and studied 24 h, 7 days and 35 days after the final exposure. We measured airway inflammation, ASM cell proliferation (by incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine; BrdU) and bronchial responsiveness to acetylcholine. RESULTS: At 24 h, in OVA-exposed rats, we detected elevated OVA-specific serum IgE, increased numbers of macrophages, eosinophils, lymphocytes and neutrophils in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and increased numbers of MBP+ (major basic protein) eosinophils and CD2+ T cells within the bronchial submucosa. This coincided with increased numbers of ASM cells expressing BrdU and with bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR). At 7 days, BHR was detected in OVA-exposed rats, coincident with increased numbers of macrophages and lymphocytes in BAL fluid together with increased numbers of CD2+ T cells within the bronchial submucosa. This coincided with increased numbers of ASM cells expressing BrdU. By day 35, the number of ASM cells expressing BrdU remained elevated in the absence of cellular infiltration and BHR. CONCLUSION: Repeated OVA-challenge results in persistent ASM cell proliferation in the absence of bronchial inflammation and BHR, which lasts for at least 1 week following cessation of exposure.