Previous studies have highlighted the importance of lung-draining lymph nodes in the respiratory allergic immune response, whereas the lung parenchymal immune system has been largely neglected. We describe a new in vivo model of respiratory sensitization to Blomia tropicalis, the principal asthma allergen in the tropics, in which the immune response is focused on the lung parenchyma by transfer of Th2 cells from a novel TCR transgenic mouse, specific for the major B. tropicalis allergen Blo t 5, that targets the lung rather than the draining lymph nodes. Transfer of highly polarized transgenic CD4 effector Th2 cells, termed BT-II, followed by repeated inhalation of Blo t 5 expands these cells in the lung >100-fold, and subsequent Blo t 5 challenge induced decreased body temperature, reduction in movement, and a fall in specific lung compliance unseen in conventional mouse asthma models following a physiological allergen challenge. These mice exhibit lung eosinophilia; smooth muscle cell, collagen, and goblet cell hyperplasia; hyper IgE syndrome; mucus plugging; and extensive inducible BALT. In addition, there is a fall in total lung volume and forced expiratory volume at 100 ms. These pathophysiological changes were substantially reduced and, in some cases, completely abolished by administration of neutralizing mAbs specific for IL-4 and IL-13 on weeks 1, 2, and 3. This IL-4/IL-13-dependent inducible BALT model will be useful for investigating the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie asthma and the development of more effective drugs for treating severe asthma.
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