Cell lines of pulmonary and non-pulmonary origin as tools to study the effects of house dust mite proteinases on the regulation of epithelial permeability

Winton, HL (Winton, HL); Wan, H (Wan, H); Cannell, MB (Cannell, MB); Gruenert, DC (Gruenert, DC); Thompson, PJ (Thompson, PJ); Garrod, DR (Garrod, DR); Stewart, GA (Stewart, GA); Robinson, C (Robinson, C)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Background Allergenic and non-allergenic proteinases from house dust mites (HDM) cause loss of adhesion between airway epithelial cells that may result in a loss of functional cohesion between the cells and thus assist in allergen presentation. Improved cellular assay systems are needed to ascertain the mechanisms involved.

Objectives To survey a series of epithelial cell lines (Calu-3, 16HBE14o(-), NCI-H292 and A549 from human airways, and MDCK from dog kidney) and establish their utility for studies of the effects of HDM proteinases from D. pteronyssinus on epithelial permeability, To develop an improved method for measuring changes in epithelial permeability induced by HDM proteinases and other provocants.

Methods The permeability of epithelial monolayer cultures to mannitol was calculated from measurements of clearance using a technique that permits mathematical estimation and reduction of non-cellular diffusional constraints. Permeability was studied under control conditions and after perturbation of monolayers with HDM proteinases (separated into serine- and cysteine-proteinase classes) or chelation of extracellular Ca2+. Fluorescent antibody staining was used to investigate whether the cells expressed tight junctions (staining of ZO-1), desmosomes (staining of desmoplakin) and zonulae adherentes (staining of E-cadherin).

Results The Calu-3 line was identified as an airway cell line that expressed functional light junctions, desmosomes and zonulae adherentes. Calu-3 monolayers exhibited a low clearance and permeability to mannitol, similar to that seen in the extensively characterized MDCK cell line. Clearance and permeability were significantly increased by treatment with either HDM proteinase fraction or by calcium chelation. 16HBE14o(-) cells also had a low permeability to mannitol under control conditions and expressed a similar repertoire of functional proteins from major intercellular junctions. In contrast, NCI-H292 and A549 cell lines were functionally deficient in tight junctions, although they did express desmosomes and zonulae adherentes to a greater extent. Epithelial permeability was found to be a more appropriate and sensitive index of epithelial perturbation than was tracer clearance.

Conclusion These results suggest that the Calu-3 and 16HBE14o(-) cell lines are useful tools in studying the mechanism of HDM proteinases on airway epithelial cell function. HDM proteinases of both cysteine and serine mechanistic classes were found to perturb epithelial adhesion and function.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberWOS:000078424500016
Pages (from-to)1273-85
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


  • house dust mite
  • epithelial permeability
  • proteinases


Dive into the research topics of 'Cell lines of pulmonary and non-pulmonary origin as tools to study the effects of house dust mite proteinases on the regulation of epithelial permeability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this