Preterm and young neonates have an increased predisposition to respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) associated with an immature development of lung surfactant. Glucocorticoids (GCs) are the major immunomodulatory agents used to increase lung development and reduce the mortality and morbidity of preterm infants with RDS. However, their safety remains uncertain, and the precise mechanisms by which they improve lung function are unclear. In previous studies, we found that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) enhances the innate immune response by respiratory epithelial cells, causes a monocytic infiltration into the lung, and reduces the severity of infection by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory pathogen known to affect preterm infants at a high prevalence. The purpose of this study is to measure the effects of VEGF administration on local immune responses in neonatal lambs, as the ovine lung is well suited for comparison to the human lung, due to similarities in alveolar development, immune responses, and RSV susceptibility. We hypothesized that VEGF induces the expression of genes necessary for host immune responses. We analyzed global gene expression profiles in the lungs of neonate lambs treated with VEGF by real-time qPCR. We report that VEGF induced the expression of chemokines (IL-8, RANTES, MCP-1), cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-6, TNF-α, GMCSF), Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4, complement family members (C3, CFB, CFH) and collectins (SP-A, SP-D). These results suggest that VEGF can regulate local immune gene expression in vivo and should be further explored as a potential exogenous therapy for various lung diseases.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark_ackermann/21/