Rationale Overexpression of the (+)insert smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SMMHC) isoform could contribute to airway bronchospasm by increasing the velocity of contraction. Whether the (+)insert isoform is present in the small airways and its expression is reversible in asthma are unknown.
Objectives To determine the anatomical location and the expression kinetics of the (+)insert SMMHC isoform in airways of horses with heaves and to evaluate its modulation in response to disease status.
Methods We evaluated the (+)insert SMMHC isoform in the airways of horses with heaves during disease exacerbation and remission, and in controls. The expression kinetics of the SMMHC (+)insert was then assessed at multiple time points in two studies: first, in horses with heaves treated for a 1-year period with antigen avoidance alone, inhaled corticosteroids alone or both; second, in horses with heaves before and after a 30-day natural antigen exposure. Gene expression analysis was assessed by quantitative PCR and protein expression was confirmed by targeted mass spectrometry.
Measurements and main results The (+)insert SMMHC isoform was significantly increased in central and peripheral airways, but not in the trachea of heaves-affected horses in clinical exacerbation when compared horses with heaves in remission and controls. Both corticosteroid administration and antigen avoidance led to a significant reduction of the (+)insert expression in the airways. The (+)insert SMMHC isoform was not significantly increased in airways after 1 month of antigenic re-exposure.
Conclusions The (+)insert SMMHC expression is increased throughout the bronchial tree in horses with heaves and reversible by corticosteroids administration and antigen avoidance.
- Respiratory Muscles