Respiratory fungal exposure is known to be associated with various allergic pulmonary disorders. Eosinophils have been implicated in tissue homeostasis of allergic inflammation as both destructive effector cells and immune regulators. What contributions eosinophils have in Aspergillus fumigatus (Af)-induced allergic lung inflammation is worthy of investigating.
We established the Af-exposed animal asthmatic model using eosinophil-deficient mice, ∆dblGATA1 mice. Airway inflammation was assessed by histopathological examination and total cell count of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). The protein level in BALF and lung mRNA level of type 2 cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 were detected by ELISA and qRT-PCR. We further studied the involvement of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, apoptosis, and autophagy by western blots, qRT-PCR, immunofluorescence, TUNEL, or immunohistochemistry. RNA-Seq analysis was utilized to analyze the whole transcriptome of Af-exposed ∆dblGATA1 mice.
Hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining and periodic acid-Schiff staining (PAS) showed that airway inflammation and mucus production were alleviated in Af-challenged ∆dblGATA1 mice compared with wild-type controls. The protein and mRNA expressions of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 were reduced in the BALF and lung tissues in Af-exposed ∆dblGATA1 mice. The results demonstrated that the significantly increased ER stress markers (GRP78 and CHOP) and apoptosis executioner caspase proteases (cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved caspase-7) in Af-exposed wild-type mice were all downregulated remarkably in the lungs of ∆dblGATA1 mice with Af challenge. In addition, the lung autophagy in Af-exposed ∆dblGATA1 mice was found elevated partially, manifesting as higher expression of LC3-II/LC3-I and beclin1, lower p62, and downregulated Akt/mTOR pathway compared with Af-exposed wild-type mice. Additionally, lung RNA-seq analysis of Af-exposed ∆dblGATA1 mice showed that biological processes about chemotaxis of lymphocytes, neutrophils, or eosinophils were enriched but without statistical significance.
In summary, eosinophils play an essential role in the pathogenesis of Af-exposed allergic lung inflammation, whose deficiency may have relation to the attenuation of type 2 immune response, alleviation of ER stress and apoptosis, and increase of autophagy. These findings suggest that anti-eosinophils therapy may provide a promising direction for fungal-induced allergic pulmonary diseases.