Proinflammatory and Th2-derived cytokines modulate CD40-mediated expression of inflammatory mediators in airway epithelia: Implications for the role of epithelial CD40 in airway inflammation

Academic Article


  • Cytokines produced by activated macrophages and Th2 cells within the lung play a key role in asthma-associated airway inflammation. Additionally, recent studies suggest that the molecule CD40 modulates lung immune responses. Because airway epithelial cells can act as immune effector cells through the expression of inflammatory mediators, the epithelium is now considered important in the generation of asthma-associated inflammation. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to examine the effects of proinflammatory and Th2-derived cytokines on the function of CD40 in airway epithelia. The results show that airway epithelial cells express CD40 and that engagement of epithelial CD40 induces a significant increase in expression of the chemokines RANTES, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP- 1), and IL-8 and the adhesion molecule ICAM-1. Cross-linking epithelial CD40 had no effect on expression of the adhesion molecule VCAM-1. The proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β and the Th2-derived cytokines IL- 4 and IL-13 modulated the positive effects of CD40 engagement on inflammatory mediator expression in airway epithelial cells. Importantly, CD40 ligation enhanced the sensitivity of airway epithelial cells to the effects of TNF-α and/or IL-1β on expression of RANTES, MCP-1, IL-8, and VCAM-1. In contrast, neither IL-4 nor IL-13 modified the effects of CD40 engagement on the expression of RANTES, MCP-1, IL-8, or VCAM-1; however, both IL-4 and IL-13 attenuated the effects of CD40 cross-linking on ICAM-1 expression. Together, these findings suggest that interactions between CD40-responsive airway epithelial cells and CD40 ligand+ leukocytes, such as activated T cells, eosinophils, and mast cells, modulate asthma-associated airway inflammation.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Propst SM; Denson R; Rothstein E; Estell K; Schwiebert LM
  • Start Page

  • 2214
  • End Page

  • 2221
  • Volume

  • 165
  • Issue

  • 4