Allergic asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease characterized by airway inflammation, mucus hypersecretion and airway remodeling. Autophagy is a highly conserved intracellular degradation pathway in eukaryotic cells. There is growing evidence suggesting that dysregulation of autophagy is involved in the pathological process of asthma. Luteolin is a typical flavonoid compound with anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and immune-enhancing functions. Previous studies have shown that luteolin can attenuate airway inflammation and hypersensitivity in asthma. However, whether luteolin can play a role in treating asthma by regulating autophagy remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the therapeutic effect of luteolin on ovalbumin (OVA)-induced asthmatic mice, observe its effect on the level of autophagy in lung tissues, and further elucidate its underlying mechanism. The results showed that OVA-induced mice developed airway hyperresponsiveness, mucus over-production and collagen deposition. The number of inflammatory cells, levels of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5 and IL-13 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and OVA-specific IgE in serum were significantly increased. Furthermore, the infiltration of inflammatory cells was observed along with the activation of autophagy in lung tissues. Luteolin treatment significantly inhibited the OVA-induced inflammatory responses and the level of autophagy in lung tissues as well. Moreover, luteolin activated the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway and inhibited the Beclin-1-PI3KC3 protein complex in lung tissues of asthmatic mice. In conclusion, this study explored the regulatory mechanism of luteolin on autophagy in allergic asthma, providing biologic evidence for its clinical application.
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