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.
The ovalbumin (OVA)-induced airway inflammation in rats is a commonly used model to explore the pathobiology of asthma. However, its susceptibility varies greatly between rat strains, and presently Brown Norway (BN) rats are preferentially used. Since recruitment of T cells to the lungs depends on the CD26 (dipeptidyl peptidase IV, DPPIV) expression, Fischer 344 strain (F344) rats are a highly relevant rat strain, in particular because CD26-deficient substrains are available. To establish a F344 rat model of asthma, we challenged F344 rats using different doses of aerosolized antigen (0%, 1%, 2.5%, 5%, and 7.5% OVA) and compared these effects with intratracheal instillation of OVA (1.5 mg/0.3 ml). Asthmoid responsiveness was determined by analysis of early airway responsiveness (EAR), antigen-specific IgE levels, as well as airway inflammation including the composition of T cell subpopulations in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and lung tissue with special respect to the T cell activation markers CD25 and CD26. Even low allergen doses caused allergen-specific EAR and increases of antigen-specific IgE levels. However, EAR and IgE levels did not increase dose dependently. Higher concentrations of OVA led to a dose-dependent increase of several immunological markers of allergic asthma including an influx of eosinophils, T cells, and dendritic cells. Interestingly, a dose-dependent increase of CD4(+)/CD25(+)/CD26(+) T cells was found in the lungs. Summarizing, we established a novel F344 rat model of aerosolized OVA-induced asthma. Thereby, we found a dose-dependent recruitment of cellular markers of allergic asthma including the activated CD4(+)/CD25(+)/CD26(+) T cell subpopulation, which has not been described in asthma yet.
To examine the influence of genetics on the OVA-induced allergic inflammatory response in lungs we compared rats that are genetically Th2-predisposed (Brown Norway, inbred) or not genetically predisposed (Sprague Dawley, outbred). Rats were sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) and challenged four weeks later with OVA aerosol. Eighteen hours after challenge, lung tissue was studied for evaluation of numbers of eosinophils, neutrophils, macrophages and mast cells, as well as for expression of P-selectin, E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) on endothelial cells. From a separate portion of the pulmonary tissue, leucocytes were isolated to analyse numbers of IFNgamma and IL-4 producing cells (ELISPOT assay) and frequencies of T-cell subsets and B cells. We found increased numbers of eosinophils and neutrophils in the lung, an increased number of IL-4 producing cells in lung cell isolates and increased levels of serum (OVA- specific)-IgE in both rat strains. In addition, expression of E-selectin and ICAM-1 was up regulated in both rat strains whereas expression of VCAM-1 was only up regulated in the BN rat. Although the 'allergic' Th2 response to OVA was detectable in both rat strains, it was more pronounced in the BN rat than in the SD rat. However, the SD rat, which is not predisposed to respond in either a Th2 or Th1-like way, appeared capable of mounting an allergic response to OVA. This suggests that other factors than genetic contribute to allergic disease.