Altered contractility of airway smooth muscle (SM) is one of the main causes of allergic asthma, in which the predominance of Th2 over Th1 cytokines plays a central role. In the present study, we examine the effects of Th2 cytokines on airway SM contraction. Treatment with a low concentration of IL-4 (0.2 ng/ml) for 6 h augmented, whereas higher concentrations (2-20 ng/ml) inhibited, agonist-induced contractions of collagen gels containing bovine tracheal SM cells. Another Th2 cytokine (IL-13) showed an augmentation of gel contraction in the concentration range of 20-200 ng/ml. IL-4 and IL-13 increased mRNA expression and protein secretion of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, but these cytokines did not affect Ca2+-mobilizing properties and phosphorylation levels of myosin L chain in bovine tracheal SM cells. These changes were sensitive to wortmannin, an inhibitor of PI3K, but not to leflunomide, an inhibitor of STAT6. Scanning electron microscope observation revealed that collagen fibers twining around SM cells were completely dissolved in 20 ng/ml IL-4-treated gels and reorganized into basket-like structure in 20 ng/ml IL-13-treated gels. Exogenous application of high and low concentrations of MMP-1 also induced the inhibition and augmentation of gel contraction, respectively. Furthermore, nonselective MMP inhibitor galardin suppressed the effects of IL-4 and IL-13 on gel contraction, and MMP-1-targeted small-interfering RNA reversed the inhibitory effects of IL-4 on gel contraction to the augmentation. This indicates that Th2 cytokines modulate airway contraction without affecting cellular contractility but by secreting MMP-1 from the SM cells via PI3K activation and changing cell-to-matrix interactions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy