The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of the interaction between CD40 and its ligand (CD40L) to antigen-induced airways inflammatory responses. To this end, we used a model involving ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization followed by OVA aerosol challenge in CD40L knockout (KO) mice. OVA-specific IgE and IgG1 were detected in the serum of the sensitized control, but not in CD40L-KO mice. After antigen challenge, sensitized control mice developed airway inflammation that was primarily eosinophilic. This inflammatory response was dramatically reduced in CD40L-KO mice. In contrast, similar numbers of eosinophils were observed in both the bone marrow and the peripheral blood in the sensitized controls and mutant strains after antigen challenge. To investigate the mechanisms underlying these findings, we examined levels of the cytokines IL-5, IL-4, and TNFalpha in both bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and serum. Similar levels of IL-5 were detected in BAL and serum of control and CD40L-KO mice; however, negligible levels of IL-4 in BAL and serum and of TNFalpha in BAL were detected in CD40L-KO mice when compared with control mice. Furthermore, we demonstrated that endothelial cell expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 in OVA-sensitized and -challenged CD40L-KO mice was, as detected by immunohistochemistry, markedly decreased compared with that observed in similarly treated control mice. In addition, we locally overexpressed IL-4 and TNFalpha by using an adenoviral (Ad)-mediated gene transfer approach. Intranasal administration of either Ad/TNFalpha or Ad/IL-4 into OVA-sensitized and -challenged CD40L-KO mice did not reconstitute airway eosinophilia. However, concurrent administration of Ad/TNFalpha and Ad/IL-4 upregulated endothelial expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, and resulted in full reconstitution of the inflammatory response in the airways. Together, these findings demonstrate the importance of the CD40-CD40L costimulatory pathway in the full expression of the inflammatory response in the airways.
X F Lei, Y Ohkawara, M R Stämpfli, C Mastruzzo, R A Marr, D Snider, Z Xing, M Jordana