Inhibition of allergic late airway responses by inhaled heparin-derived oligosaccharides

Tahir Ahmed, Jaime Ungo, Min Zhou, Carlos Campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Inhaled heparin has been shown to inhibit allergic bronchoconstriction in sheep that develop only acute responses to antigen (acute responders) but was ineffective in sheep that develop both acute and late airway responses (LAR) (dual responders). Because the antiallergic activity of heparin is molecular-weight dependent, we hypothesized that heparin-derived oligosaccharides (<2,500) with potential anti-inflammatory activity may attenuate the LAR in the dual-responder sheep. Specific lung resistance was measured in 24 dual-responder sheep before and serially for 8 h after challenge with Ascaris suum antigen for demonstration of early airway response (EAR) and LAR, without and after treatment with inhaled medium-, low-, and ultralow-molecular-weight (ULMW) heparins and 'non-anticoagulant' fractions (NAF) of heparin. Airway responsiveness was estimated before and 24 h postantigen as the cumulative provocating dose of carbachol that increased specific lung resistance by 400%. Only ULMW heparins caused a dose-dependent inhibition of antigen-induced EAR and LAR and postantigen airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), whereas low-and medium-molecular-weight heparins were ineffective. The effects of ULMW heparin and ULMW NAF-heparin were comparable and inhibited the LAR and AHR even when administered 'after' the antigen challenge. The ULMW NAF-heparin failed to inhibit the bronchoconstrictor response to histamine, carbachol, and leukotriene D4, excluding a direct effect on airway smooth muscle. In six sheep, segmental antigen challenge caused a marked increase in bronchoalveolar lavage histamine, which was not prevented by inhaled ULMW NAF-heparin. The results of this study in the dual-responder sheep demonstrate that 1) the antiallergic activity of inhaled 'fractionated' heparins is molecular-weight dependent, 2) only ULMW heparins inhibit the antigen-induced EAR and LAR and postantigen AHR, and 3) the antiallergic activity is mediated by nonanticoagulant fractions and resides in the ULMW chains of <2,500.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1721-1729
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Heparin oligossacharides
  • Late-phase reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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