Bilirubin nanoparticles ameliorate allergic lung inflammation in a mouse model of asthma

Dong Eon Kim, Yonghyun Lee, Min Gyo Kim, Soyoung Lee, Sangyong Jon, Seung Hyo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Although asthma, a chronic inflammatory airway disease, is relatively well-managed by inhaled corticosteroids, the side effects associated with the long-term use of these agents precipitate the need for alternative therapeutic options based on differing modes of action. Bilirubin, a potent endogenous antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory molecule have been shown to ameliorate asthmatic symptoms; however, its clinical translation has been limited owing to its water insolubility and associated potential toxicity. Here we report the first application of bilirubin-based nanoparticles (BRNPs) as a nanomedicine for the treatment of allergic lung inflammatory disease. BRNPs were prepared directly from self-assembly of PEGylated bilirubin in aqueous solution and had a hydrodynamic diameter of ∼100 nm. Because allergen-specific type 2 T-helper (Th2) cells play a key role in the pathogenesis and progression of allergic asthma, the effects of BRNPs on Th2 immune responses were investigated both in vivo and in vitro. BRNPs after intravenous injection (i.v.) showed much higher serum concentration and a longer circulation time of bilirubin than the intraperitoneal injection (i.p.) of BRNPs or unconjugated bilirubin (UCB). The anti-asthmatic effects of BRNPs were assessed in a mouse model of allergen-induced asthma. Compared with UCB, treatment with BRNPs suppressed the symptoms of experimental allergic asthma and dramatically ameliorated Th2-related allergic lung inflammation. Consistent with these results, BRNPs caused a reduction of Th2 cell populations and the expression of related cytokines by antibody-stimulated CD4+ T cells in vitro. Therefore, our results establish BRNPs as an important immunomodulatory agent that may be useful as a therapeutic for allergic lung inflammatory disease and other immune-mediated disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank J-R Ha and TW Kim for technical assistance, and the Hyewha Forum for helpful discussions. This study was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI15C2497), a Global Research Laboratory grant (2015045887) through the National Research Foundation of Korea, and the KAIST Future Systems Healthcare Project, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Anti-inflammation therapy
  • Antioxidant
  • Asthma
  • Bilirubin
  • Bilirubin nanoparticles
  • Th2 immune responses


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