Barrier Housing and Gender Effects on Allergic Airway Disease in a Murine House Dust Mite Model

Kelly Weiss, Nicholas Wanner, Kimberly Queisser, Matthew Frimel, Tina Nunn, Timothy Myshrall, Naseer Sangwan, Serpil Erzurum, Kewal Asosingh
ImmunoHorizons 2021 January 21, 5 (1): 33-47
Allergic airway disease models use laboratory mice housed in highly controlled and hygienic environments, which provide a barrier between the mice and a predetermined list of specific pathogens excluded from the facility. In this study, we hypothesized that differences in facility barrier level and, consequently, the hygienic quality of the environment that mice inhabit impact the severity of pulmonary inflammation and lung function. Allergen-naive animals housed in the cleaner, high barrier (HB) specific pathogen-free facility had increased levels of inflammatory cytokines and higher infiltration of immune cells in the lung tissue but not in the bronchoalveolar lavage compared with mice housed in the less hygienic, low barrier specific pathogen-free facility. In both genders, house dust mite-induced airway disease was more severe in the HB than the low barrier facility. Within each barrier facility, female mice developed the most severe inflammation. However, allergen-naive male mice had worse lung function, regardless of the housing environment, and in the HB, the lung function in female mice was higher in the house dust mite model. Severe disease in the HB was associated with reduced lung microbiome diversity. The lung microbiome was altered across housing barriers, gender, and allergen-exposed groups. Thus, the housing barrier level impacts microbial-driven disease and gender phenotypes in allergic asthma. The housing of laboratory mice in more clean HB facilities aggravates lung immunity and causes a more severe allergic lung disease.

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