Chronic inflammation with mucous metaplasia and airway remodeling are hallmarks of allergic asthma, and these outcomes have been associated with enhanced expression and activation of EGFR signaling. Here, we demonstrate enhanced expression of EGFR ligands such as amphiregulin as well as constitutive EGFR activation in cultured nasal epithelial cells from asthmatic subjects compared with nonasthmatic controls and in lung tissues of mice during house dust mite–induced (HDM-induced) allergic inflammation. EGFR activation was associated with cysteine oxidation within EGFR and the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase Src, and both amphiregulin production and oxidative EGFR activation were diminished by pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of the epithelial NADPH oxidase dual oxidase 1 (DUOX1). DUOX1 deficiency also attenuated several EGFR-dependent features of HDM-induced allergic airway inflammation, including neutrophilic inflammation, type 2 cytokine production (IL-33, IL-13), mucous metaplasia, subepithelial fibrosis, and central airway resistance. Moreover, targeted inhibition of airway DUOX1 in mice with previously established HDM-induced allergic inflammation, by intratracheal administration of DUOX1-targeted siRNA or pharmacological NADPH oxidase inhibitors, reversed most of these outcomes. Our findings indicate an important function for DUOX1 in allergic inflammation related to persistent EGFR activation and suggest that DUOX1 targeting may represent an attractive strategy in asthma management.
Aida Habibovic, Milena Hristova, David E. Heppner, Karamatullah Danyal, Jennifer L. Ather, Yvonne M.W. Janssen-Heininger, Charles G. Irvin, Matthew E. Poynter, Lennart K. Lundblad, Anne E. Dixon, Miklos Geiszt, Albert van der Vliet