Protein–Protein interactive networks identified in bronchoalveolar lavage of severe compared to nonsevere asthma

Annette T. Hastie, Andrew C. Bishop, Mohammad S. Khan, Eugene R. Bleecker, Mario Castro, Loren C. Denlinger, Serpil C. Erzurum, John V. Fahy, Elliot Israel, Bruce D. Levy, David T. Mauger, Deborah A. Meyers, Wendy C. Moore, Victor E. Ortega, Stephen P. Peters, Sally E. Wenzel, Chad H. Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Previous bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) proteomic analysis has evaluated limited numbers of subjects for only a few proteins of interest, which may differ between asthma and normal controls. Our objective was to examine a more comprehensive inflammatory biomarker panel in quantitative proteomic analysis for a large asthma cohort to identify molecular phenotypes distinguishing severe from nonsevere asthma. Methods: Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from 48 severe and 77 nonsevere adult asthma subjects were assessed for 75 inflammatory proteins, normalized to BALF total protein concentration. Validation of BALF differences was sought through equivalent protein analysis of autologous sputum. Subjects' data, stratified by asthma severity, were analysed by standard statistical tests, principal component analysis and 5 machine learning algorithms. Results: The severe group had lower lung function and greater health care utilization. Significantly increased BALF proteins for severe asthma compared to nonsevere asthma were fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), TGFα, IL1Ra, IL2, IL4, CCL8, CCL13 and CXCL7 and significantly decreased were platelet-derived growth factor a-a dimer (PDGFaa), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), interleukin 5 (IL5), CCL17, CCL22, CXCL9 and CXCL10. Four protein differences were replicated in sputum. FGF2, PDGFaa and CXCL7 were independently identified by 5 machine learning algorithms as the most important variables for discriminating severe and nonsevere asthma. Increased and decreased proteins identified for the severe cluster showed significant protein–protein interactions for chemokine and cytokine signalling, growth factor activity, and eosinophil and neutrophil chemotaxis differing between subjects with severe and nonsevere asthma. Conclusion: These inflammatory protein results confirm altered airway remodelling and cytokine/chemokine activity recruiting leukocytes into the airways of severe compared to nonsevere asthma as important processes even in stable status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • bronchoalveolar lavage fluid
  • chemokines
  • cytokines
  • growth factors
  • machine learning
  • severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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