Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Dr. John J. Ryan


Mast cells are tissue-resident immune cells known as effector cells for the innate and adaptive immune systems. Mast cells contribute to host defenses against parasites such as large roundworm parasites, bacterial pathogens, and toxins, and participate in wound healing, but they are mostly known for their role in allergic diseases. It has been well established that during allergic diseases, mast cells are stimulated by IgE cross-linkage to release proinflammatory mediators. However, a newly discovered cytokine, IL-33 has also been implicated in allergic disease. Recently, IL-33 has been implicated as a driver of several Type I sensitivities and previous studies have shown that IL-33 can stimulate mast cells in atopic inflammation. Although the importance of IL-33 has been established, there are still several things unknown about IL-33 signaling regulation or treatment.

This dissertation will present two separate studies involving the modulation of IL-33-mediated mast cells function In the first study, the effects of fluvastatin are explored. In a previous study, fluvastatin was shown to inhibit proinflammatory functions of IgE crosslinked mast cells. Contrasting to IgE stimulation, fluvastatin augments IL-6 and TNF production in IL-33 stimulated mast cells, but suppressed MCP-1. This phenomenon was seen in mouse and human mast cells in vitro and replicated in a mast cell-dependent murine model of IL-33-induced inflammation in vivo.

In the second study, IL-33 was found to induce miR-146a expression in mouse mast cells and mast cell-derived exosomes in vitro, and in plasma exosomes in vivo. IL-33 induced miR-146a was of interest because miR-146a is a known negative regulator of TLR signaling, which shares the MyD88 signaling pathway with IL-33. We found that miR-146a KO mast cells are hyperresponsive to IL-33 stimulation, data that were replicated by suppressing miR-146a-5p in WT mast cells. In an acute mast cell repopulation model, kitW-sh/W-sh mice containing miR-146a KO BMMC had increased IL-33 induced neutrophilia in comparison to their controls.

Collectively, these data reveal new IL-33 signaling pathways and means of altering its inflammatory effects on mast cells. Because IL-33 has important roles in allergy and other Th2-mediated diseases, these results advance clinically relevant areas of immunology.


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Available for download on Tuesday, May 07, 2024