Compartmentalized transgene expression of granulocyte‐macrophage colony‐stimulating factor (GM‐CSF) in mouse lung enhances allergic airways inflammation
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To investigate the role of GM-CSF in asthmatic airways inflammation, we have targeted GM-CSF transgene to the airway cells in a mouse model of ovalbumin (OVA)-induced allergic airways inflammation, a model in which there is marked induction of endogenous IL-5 and IL-4 but not GM-CSF. Following intranasal delivery of a replication-deficient adenoviral gene transfer vector (Ad), transgene expression was found localized primarily to the respiratory epithelial cells. Intranasal delivery of 0.03 x 10(9) plaque-forming units (PFU) of AdGM-CSF into naive BALB/c mice resulted in prolonged and compartmentalized release of GM-CSF transgene protein with a peak concentration of approximately 80 pg/ml detected in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) at day 7, but little in serum. These levels of local GM-CSF expression per se resulted in no eosinophilia and only a minimum of tissue inflammatory responses in the lung of naive mice, similar to those induced by the control vector. However, such GM-CSF expression in the airways of OVA-sensitized mice resulted in a much greater and sustained accumulation of various inflammatory cell types, most noticeably eosinophils, both in BALF and airway tissues for 15-21 days post-OVA aerosol challenge, at which times airways inflammation had largely resolved in control mice. While the levels of IL-5 and IL-4 in BALF and the rate of eosinophil apoptosis were found similar between different treatments, there was an increased number of proliferative leucocytes in the lung receiving GM-CSF gene transfer. Our results thus provide direct experimental evidence that GM-CSF can significantly contribute to the development of allergic airways inflammation through potentiating and prolonging inflammatory infiltration induced by cytokines such as IL-5 and IL-4.
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