ß2-Adrenoceptor signaling in airway epithelial cells promotes eosinophilic inflammation, mucous metaplasia, and airway contractility

Nguyen LP1, Al-Sawalha NA2, Parra S2, Pokkunuri I2, Omoluabi O3, Okulate AA2, Windham Li E1, Hazen M1, Gonzalez-Granado JM4, Daly CJ4, McGrath JC4, Tuvim MJ1, Knoll BJ2, Dickey BF1, Bond RA5
Source: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
Publication Date: ()
Issue: 114: E9163-E9171
Cells used in publication:
Epithelial, bronchial (NHBE), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: lung


The mostly widely used bronchodilators in asthma therapy are ß2-adrenoreceptor (ß2AR) agonists, but their chronic use causes paradoxical adverse effects. We have previously determined that ß2AR activation is required for expression of the asthma phenotype in mice, but the cell types involved are unknown. We now demonstrate that ß2AR signaling in the airway epithelium is sufficient to mediate key features of the asthmatic responses to IL-13 in murine models. Our data show that inhibition of ß2AR signaling with an aerosolized antagonist attenuates airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), eosinophilic inflammation, and mucus-production responses to IL-13, whereas treatment with an aerosolized agonist worsens these phenotypes, suggesting that ß2AR signaling on resident lung cells modulates the asthma phenotype. Labeling with a fluorescent ß2AR ligand shows the receptors are highly expressed in airway epithelium. In ß2AR-/- mice, transgenic expression of ß2ARs only in airway epithelium is sufficient to rescue IL-13-induced AHR, inflammation, and mucus production, and transgenic overexpression in WT mice exacerbates these phenotypes. Knockout of ß-arrestin-2 (ßarr-2-/-) attenuates the asthma phenotype as in ß2AR-/- mice. In contrast to eosinophilic inflammation, neutrophilic inflammation was not promoted by ß2AR signaling. Together, these results suggest ß2ARs on airway epithelial cells promote the asthma phenotype and that the proinflammatory pathway downstream of the ß2AR involves ßarr-2. These results identify ß2AR signaling in the airway epithelium as capable of controlling integrated responses to IL-13 and affecting the function of other cell types such as airway smooth muscle cells.