Mast cell phenotype, location, and activation in severe asthma: Data from the Severe Asthma Research Program

Silvana Balzar, Merritt L. Fajt, Suzy A.A. Comhair, Serpil C. Erzurum, Eugene Bleecker, William W. Busse, Mario Castro, Benjamin Gaston, Elliot Israel, Lawrence B. Schwartz, Douglas Curran-Everett, Charity G. Moore, Sally E. Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rationale: Severe asthma (SA) remains poorly understood. Mast cells (MC) are implicated in asthma pathogenesis, but it remains unknown how their phenotype, location, and activation relate to asthma severity. Objectives: To compare MC-related markers measured in bronchoscopically obtained samples with clinically relevant parameters between normal subjects and subjects with asthma to clarify their pathobiologic importance. Methods: Endobronchial biopsies, epithelial brushings, and bronchoalveolar lavage were obtained from subjects with asthma and normal subjects from the Severe Asthma Research Program (N = 199). Tryptase, chymase, and carboxypeptidase A (CPA)3 were used to identify total MC (MCTot) and the MCTC subset (MCs positive for both tryptase and chymase) using immunostaining and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Lavage was analyzed for tryptase and prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) by ELISA. Measurements and Main Results: Submucosal MCTot (tryptase-positive by immunostaining) numbers were highest in "mild asthma/no inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy" subjects and decreased with greater asthma severity (P = 0.002). In contrast, MCTC (chymase-positive by immunostaining) were the predominant (MC TC/MCTot. 50%) MC phenotype in SA (overall P=0.005). Epithelial MCTot were also highest in mild asthma/noICS, but were not lower in SA. Instead, they persisted and were predominantly MCTC. Epithelial CPA3 and tryptase mRNA supported the immunostaining data (overall P = 0.008 and P=0.02, respectively). Lavage PGD2 was higher in SA than in other steroid-treated groups (overall P = 0.02), whereas tryptase did not differentiate the groups. In statistical models, PGD2 and MCTC/ MCTot predicted SA. Conclusions: Severe asthma is associated with a predominance of MCTC in the airway submucosa and epithelium. Activation of those MCTC may contribute to the increases in PGD2 levels. The data suggest an altered and active MC population contributes to SA pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Volume183
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

Keywords

  • Carboxypeptidase A
  • Chymase
  • Prostaglandin D2

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