Background Asthma, a chronic inflammatory condition defined by episodic shortness of breath with expiratory wheezing and cough, is a serious health concern affecting more than 250 million persons. Genome-wide association studies have identified ORM (yeast)-like protein isoform 3 (ORMDL3) as a gene associated with susceptibility to asthma. Although its yeast ortholog is a negative regulator of de novo ceramide biosynthesis, how ORMDL3 contributes to asthma pathogenesis is not known. Objectives We sought to decipher the molecular mechanism for the pathologic functions of ORMDL3 in asthma and the relationship to its evolutionarily conserved role in regulation of ceramide homeostasis. Methods We determined the relationship between expression of ORMDL3 and ceramide in epithelial and inflammatory cells and in asthma pathogenesis in mice. Results Although small increases in ORMDL3 expression decrease ceramide levels, remarkably, higher expression in lung epithelial cells and macrophages in vitro and in vivo increased ceramide production, which promoted chronic inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness, and mucus production during house dust mite-induced allergic asthma. Moreover, nasal administration of the immunosuppressant drug FTY720/fingolimod reduced ORMDL3 expression and ceramide levels and mitigated airway inflammation and hyperreactivity and mucus hypersecretion in house dust mite-challenged mice. Conclusions Our findings demonstrate that overexpression of ORMDL3 regulates ceramide homeostasis in cells in a complex manner and suggest that local FTY720 administration might be a useful therapeutic intervention for the control of allergic asthma.
Oyeniran, C., Sturgill, J. L., Hait, N. C., Huang, W. C., Avni, D., Maceyka, M., … Spiegel, S. (2015). Aberrant ORM (yeast)-like protein isoform 3 (ORMDL3) expression dysregulates ceramide homeostasis in cells and ceramide exacerbates allergic asthma in mice. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 136(4), 1035-1046.e6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2015.02.031