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Expression of thymic stromal lymphopoietin in equine recurrent airway obstruction

Klukowska-Rötzler, Jolanta, Marti, Eliane, Lavoie, Jean-Pierre, Ainsworth, Dorothy M., Gerber, Vinzenz, Zurbriggen, Andreas, Janda, Jozef
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology 2012 v.146 no.1 pp. 46-52
epithelial cells, gene expression, genes, hay, horse diseases, horses, humans, inflammation, lymphocytes, messenger RNA, mice, pastures, pathogenesis, remission
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is a cytokine involved in lymphocyte development. In humans and mice, TSLP drives the differentiation of T helper 2 (Th2) cells and the development of allergic inflammation. The equine TSLP gene has been previously identified and characterized, but its role in the pathogenesis of equine allergic diseases is not known. Our objective was to assess the expression of TSLP in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells and in primary bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) isolated from horses with recurrent airway obstruction (RAO). RNA was isolated from BAL cells sampled from clinical cases of RAO (n=8) and from control horses (n=12). Furthermore, BAL samples were taken from an additional group of 8 RAO-susceptible and 8 control horses when on pasture (remission) and after 30 days of exposure to moldy hay (exacerbation). In order to study epithelial cells as a potential source of TSLP, cultures of primary bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) were established from 6 RAO-affected and 6 healthy horses and stimulated in vitro with hay dust solution (HDS). Expression of TSLP mRNA was assessed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qPCR). Clinical RAO-cases had higher TSLP expression in BAL than control horses (p<0.05). In an experimental group of horses there was no difference between healthy and susceptible horses in remission, whereas after 30-day experimental exposure to moldy hay, all susceptible horses upregulated TSLP expression in BAL (p=0.008, average 6.36-fold increase), whereas in healthy horses there was no significant increase in TSLP expression. BEC generated both from healthy and RAO-affected horses strongly upregulated TSLP expression after 6h stimulation with HDS, which identifies epithelial cells as potential sources of TSLP in RAO. Finding of increased TSLP expression by BAL cells of RAO-affected horses is in agreement with the contribution of Th2-driven allergic inflammation in the pathogenesis of RAO.