Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)

Department

Health Sciences

Supervisor

Carl Richards

Language

English

Committee Member

Karen Mossman, Param Nair

Abstract

Allergic atopic asthma is a respiratory condition that involves immune responses to specific allergens resulting in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. During an atopic asthmatic attack, the immune system initiates cellular infiltration of lymphocytes and eosinophils, airway hyper-responsiveness and ECM remodeling, which manifests in lung dysfunction in chronic disease. ASMC have recently been shown to play a role in the inflammatory processes of asthma through the production of inflammatory mediators. Various cytokines and chemokines serve as stimulants for these pathways and therefore require further attention to examine inflammatory signaling. OSM, a member of the gp130 family of cytokines, is secreted by inflammatory cells and has been detected in the sputum of asthmatics. Previous findings have established the potential of OSM in induction of lung inflammation, its role in increasing ECM, and its potential role in asthma. Viral or bacterial infections cause asthma exacerbations which result in increased severity of symptoms. The innate immune system relies on pattern recognition receptors including the TLRs to recognize invading pathogens and activate cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells. Although there are a number of these TLRs, this project will focus on the role of TLR3 and TLR4 in ASMC. I generally hypothesized that OSM markedly increases lung cell airway smooth muscle cell responses to external stimulae, such as products of bacteria or viruses that activate toll-like receptors. This exacerbates inflammation and extracellular matrix remodeling which contributes to pathology in asthmatic patients. Findings in this thesis have demonstrated that OSM stimulation increases the production of various cytokines and chemokines and growth factors seen in asthma. Co-stimulations with OSM and TLR-ligands augmented the production of a variety of these inflammatory mediators in comparison to ligands alone. TLR responses were shown to be associated with TLR expression, at both the mRNA and protein level, as well through the activation of the JAK-STAT and NFκB pathways. These findings implicate ASMC in immunomodulatory roles in response to TLR-ligands and OSM, and could play a role in the increased severity of asthma seen during exacerbations.

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