Bronchial asthma, the most prevalent cause of significant respiratory morbidity in the developed world, typically is a chronic disorder associated with long-term changes in the airways. We developed a mouse model of chronic asthma that results in markedly increased numbers of airway mast cells, enhanced airway responses to methacholine or antigen, chronic inflammation including infiltration with eosinophils and lymphocytes, airway epithelial goblet cell hyperplasia, enhanced expression of the mucin genes Muc5ac and Muc5b, and increased levels of lung collagen. Using mast cell–deficient (KitW-sh/W-sh and/or KitW/W-v) mice engrafted with FcRγ+/+ or FcRγ–/– mast cells, we found that mast cells were required for the full development of each of these features of the model. However, some features also were expressed, although usually at less than wild-type levels, in mice whose mast cells lacked FcRγ and therefore could not be activated by either antigen- and IgE-dependent aggregation of FcεRI or the binding of antigen-IgG1 immune complexes to FcγRIII. These findings demonstrate that mast cells can contribute to the development of multiple features of chronic asthma in mice and identify both FcRγ-dependent and FcRγ-independent pathways of mast cell activation as important for the expression of key features of this asthma model.
Mang Yu, Mindy Tsai, See-Ying Tam, Carol Jones, James Zehnder, Stephen J. Galli