Memory T cells provide long-lasting protective immunity, and distinct subpopulations of memory T cells drive chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma. Asthma is a chronic allergic inflammatory disease with airway remodeling including fibrotic changes. The immunological mechanisms that induce airway fibrotic changes remain unknown. We found that interleukin-33 (IL-33) enhanced amphiregulin production by the IL-33 receptor, ST2hi memory T helper 2 (Th2) cells. Amphiregulin-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mediated signaling directly reprogramed eosinophils to an inflammatory state with enhanced production of osteopontin, a key profibrotic immunomodulatory protein. IL-5-producing memory Th2 cells and amphiregulin-producing memory Th2 cells appeared to cooperate to establish lung fibrosis. The analysis of polyps from patients with eosinophilic chronic rhinosinusitis revealed fibrosis with accumulation of amphiregulin-producing CRTH2hiCD161hiCD45RO+CD4+ Th2 cells and osteopontin-producing eosinophils. Thus, the IL-33-amphiregulin-osteopontin axis directs fibrotic responses in eosinophilic airway inflammation and is a potential target for the treatment of fibrosis induced by chronic allergic disorders.
Hemodynamic forces play an essential epigenetic role in heart valve development, but how they do so is not known. Here, we show that the shear-responsive transcription factor KLF2 is required in endocardial cells to regulate the mesenchymal cell responses that remodel cardiac cushions to mature valves. Endocardial Klf2 deficiency results in defective valve formation associated with loss of Wnt9b expression and reduced canonical WNT signaling in neighboring mesenchymal cells, a phenotype reproduced by endocardial-specific loss of Wnt9b. Studies in zebrafish embryos reveal that wnt9b expression is similarly restricted to the endocardial cells overlying the developing heart valves and is dependent upon both hemodynamic shear forces and klf2a expression. These studies identify KLF2-WNT9B signaling as a conserved molecular mechanism by which fluid forces sensed by endothelial cells direct the complex cellular process of heart valve development and suggest that congenital valve defects may arise due to subtle defects in this mechanotransduction pathway.