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.
Brown Norway rats are widely used as a model of asthma, whereas Sprague Dawley rats do not develop allergic reactions under the same conditions. Given the importance of alveolar macrophages (AM) in down-regulating cellular immune responses in the lung, we postulated that the different susceptibilities in the development of airway allergic reactions in these rat strains may be related to functional differences in their AM. We investigated the production of important mediators in asthma, namely tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-10 (IL-10), IL-12, IL-13, nitric oxide (NO) and macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha (MIP-1alpha), by AM of unsensitized Sprague Dawley and Brown Norway rats. AM were purified by adherence and stimulated with OX8 (anti-CD8 antibody) or LPS. OX8 stimulation significantly increased the release of TNF, IL-10 and NO in both strains of rats, whereas MIP-1alpha and IL-12 release were increased in Brown Norway rats only. Interestingly, stimulated AM from Sprague Dawley rats released significantly more TNF and less IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, MIP-1alpha and NO compared with AM from Brown Norway rats. These differences were also observed at the mRNA level, except for TNF. Thus, AM from Brown Norway and Sprague Dawley rats are functionally different. Furthermore, LPS- and OX8-stimulated AM from Brown Norway rats produce more Th2 type cytokines (IL-10 and IL-13) than AM from Sprague Dawley rats, suggesting that these cells may play an important role in creating a cytokine milieu that may favour the development of allergic reactions.