Background: Genome-wide association studies in asthma have repeatedly identified single nucleotide polymorphisms in the ORM (yeast)–like protein isoform 3 (ORMDL3) gene across different populations. Although the ORM homologues in yeast are well-known inhibitors of sphingolipid synthesis, it is still unclear whether and how mammalian ORMDL3 regulates sphingolipid metabolism and whether altered sphingolipid synthesis would be causally related to asthma risk. Objective: We sought to examine the in vivo role of ORMDL3 in sphingolipid metabolism and allergic asthma. Methods: Ormdl3-LacZ reporter mice, gene-deficient Ormdl3−/− mice, and overexpressing Ormdl3Tg/wt mice were exposed to physiologically relevant aeroallergens, such as house dust mite (HDM) or Alternaria alternata, to induce experimental asthma. Mass spectrometry–based sphingolipidomics were performed, and airway eosinophilia, TH2 cytokine production, immunoglobulin synthesis, airway remodeling, and bronchial hyperreactivity were measured. Results: HDM challenge significantly increased levels of total sphingolipids in the lungs of HDM-sensitized mice compared with those in control mice. In Ormdl3Tg/wt mice the allergen-induced increase in lung ceramide levels was significantly reduced, whereas total sphingolipid levels were not affected. Conversely, in liver and serum, levels of total sphingolipids, including ceramides, were increased in Ormdl3−/− mice, whereas they were decreased in Ormdl3Tg/wt mice. This difference was independent of allergen exposure. Despite these changes, all features of asthma were identical between wild-type, Ormdl3Tg/wt, and Ormdl3−/− mice across several models of experimental asthma. Conclusion: ORMDL3 regulates systemic ceramide levels, but genetically interfering with Ormdl3 expression does not result in altered experimental asthma.

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Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Department of Pulmonology

Debeuf, N. (N.), Zhakupova, A. (A.), Steiner, R. (Regula), Van Gassen, S. (S.), Deswarte, K., Fayazpour, F. (Farzaneh), … Lambrecht, B. (2019). The ORMDL3 asthma susceptibility gene regulates systemic ceramide levels without altering key asthma features in mice. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2019.06.041