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Immunology - Respiratory Medicine

Secreted Osteopontin Is Highly Polymerized in Human Airways and Fragmented in Asthmatic Airway Secretions
Published: Friday, October 21, 2011
Author: Mehrdad Arjomandi et al.

by Mehrdad Arjomandi, Jessica Frelinger, Aneesh Donde, Hofer Wong, Amritha Yellamilli, Wilfred Raymond


Osteopontin (OPN) is a member of the small integrin-binding ligand N-linked glycoprotein (SIBLING) family and a cytokine with diverse biologic roles. OPN undergoes extensive post-translational modifications, including polymerization and proteolytic fragmentation, which alters its biologic activity. Recent studies suggest that OPN may contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma.


To determine whether secreted OPN (sOPN) is polymerized in human airways and whether it is qualitatively different in asthma, we used immunoblotting to examine sOPN in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples from 12 healthy and 21 asthmatic subjects (and in sputum samples from 27 healthy and 21 asthmatic subjects). All asthmatic subjects had mild to moderate asthma and abstained from corticosteroids during the study. Furthermore, we examined the relationship between airway sOPN and cellular inflammation.

Principal Findings

We found that sOPN in BAL fluid and sputum exists in polymeric, monomeric, and cleaved forms, with most of it in polymeric form. Compared to healthy subjects, asthmatic subjects had proportionately less polymeric sOPN and more monomeric and cleaved sOPN. Polymeric sOPN in BAL fluid was associated with increased alveolar macrophage counts in airways in all subjects.


These results suggest that sOPN in human airways (1) undergoes extensive post-translational modification by polymerization and proteolytic fragmentation, (2) is more fragmented and less polymerized in subjects with mild to moderate asthma, and (3) may contribute to recruitment or survival of alveolar macrophages.