Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive and lethal disorder. Although the precise mechanisms of pulmonary fibrosis are not fully understood, oxidant/antioxidant and Th1/Th2 balances may play an important role in many of the processes of inflammation and fibrosis. The transcription factor Nrf2 acts as a critical regulator for various inflammatory and immune responses by controlling oxidative stress. We therefore investigated the protective role of Nrf2 against the development of pulmonary fibrosis.
To generate pulmonary fibrosis, both wild-type C57BL/6 mice and Nrf2-deficient mice of the same background were administered bleomycin intratracheally.
The survival of Nrf2-deficient mice after bleomycin administration was significantly lower than that of wild-type mice. The degree of bleomycin-induced initial pulmonary inflammation and pulmonary fibrosis was much more severe in Nrf2-deficient mice than in wild-type mice. The expression of antioxidant enzymes and phase II detoxifying enzymes was significantly reduced in the lungs of Nrf2-deficient mice, concomitant with an elevation of lung 8-isoprostane level, compared with wild-type mice. The expression of Th2 cytokines, such as interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, was significantly elevated in the lungs of Nrf2-deficient mice with an increase in the number of Th2 cells that express GATA-binding protein 3.
The results indicated that Nrf2 protects against the development of pulmonary fibrosis by regulating the cellular redox level and lung Th1/Th2 balance. Thus, Nrf2 might be an important genetic factor in the determination of susceptibility to pulmonary fibrosis.
Interstitial lung disease is a devastating disease in humans that can be further complicated by the development of secondary pulmonary hypertension. Accumulating evidence indicates that the oxidant superoxide can contribute to the pathogenesis of both interstitial lung disease and pulmonary hypertension. We used a model of pulmonary hypertension secondary to bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis to test the hypothesis that an imbalance in extracellular superoxide and its antioxidant defense, extracellular superoxide dismutase, will promote pulmonary vascular remodeling and pulmonary hypertension. We exposed transgenic mice overexpressing lung extracellular superoxide dismutase and wild-type littermates to a single dose of intratracheal bleomycin, and evaluated the mice weekly for up to 35 days. We assessed pulmonary vascular remodeling and the expression of several genes critical to lung fibrosis, as well as pulmonary hypertension and mortality. The overexpression of extracellular superoxide dismutase protected against late remodeling within the medial, adventitial, and intimal layers of the vessel wall after the administration of bleomycin, and attenuated pulmonary hypertension at the same late time point. The overexpression of extracellular superoxide dismutase also blocked the early up-regulation of two key genes in the lung known to be critical in pulmonary fibrosis and vascular remodeling, the transcription factor early growth response–1 and transforming growth factor–β. The overexpression of extracellular superoxide dismutase attenuated late pulmonary hypertension and significantly improved survival after exposure to bleomycin. These data indicate an important role for an extracellular oxidant/antioxidant imbalance in the pathogenesis of pulmonary vascular remodeling associated with secondary pulmonary hypertension attributable to bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis.
interstitial lung disease; extracellular superoxide; early growth response-1; transforming growth factor
Rationale: An increase in the number of mononuclear phagocytes in lung biopsies from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) worsens prognosis. Chemokines that recruit mononuclear phagocytes, such as CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), are elevated in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid (BALF) from patients with IPF. However, little attention is given to the role of the mononuclear phagocyte survival and recruitment factor, macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), in pulmonary fibrosis.
Objectives: To investigate the role of mononuclear phagocytes and M-CSF in pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods: Wild-type, M-CSF−/−, or CCL2−/− mice received intraperitoneal bleomycin. Lung inflammation and fibrosis were measured by immunohistochemistry, ELISA, collagen assay, BAL differentials, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and Western blot analysis. Human and mouse macrophages were stimulated with M-CSF for CCL2 expression. BALF from patients with IPF was examined for M-CSF and CCL2.
Measurements and Main Results: M-CSF−/− and CCL2−/− mice had less lung fibrosis, mononuclear phagocyte recruitment, collagen deposition, and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression after bleomycin administration than wild-type littermates. Human and mouse macrophages stimulated with M-CSF had increased CCL2 production, and intratracheal administration of M-CSF in mice induced CCL2 production in BALF. Finally, BALF from patients with IPF contained significantly more M-CSF and CCL2 than BALF from normal volunteers. Elevated levels of M-CSF were associated with elevated CCL2 in BALF and the diagnosis of IPF.
Conclusions: These data suggest that M-CSF contributes to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis in mice and in patients with IPF through the involvement of mononuclear phagocytes and CCL2 production.
bleomycin; CC chemokine ligand 2; macrophage colony-stimulating factor; mononuclear phagocytes; pulmonary fibrosis
Fibroblasts play a major role in tissue repair and remodeling. Their differentiation into myofibroblasts, marked by increased expression of smooth muscle–specific α-actin (α-SMA), is believed to be important in wound healing and fibrosis. We have recently described a role for MK2 in this phenotypic differentiation in culture. In this article, we demonstrate that MK2 also regulates myofibroblasts in vivo. Disruption of MK2 in mice prevented myofibroblast formation in a model of pulmonary fibrosis. However, MK2 disruption and consequent lack of myofibroblast formation exacerbated fibrosis rather than ameliorated it as previously postulated. When mice lacking MK2 (MK2−/−) were exposed to bleomycin, more collagen accumulated and more fibroblasts populated fibrotic regions in their lungs than in similarly treated wild-type mice. While there were many vimentin-positive cells in the bleomycin-treated MK2−/− mouse lungs, few α-SMA–positive cells were observed in these lungs compared with wild-type mouse lungs. siRNA against MK2 reduced α-SMA expression in wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF), consistent with its suppression in MK2−/− MEF. On the other hand expressing constitutively active MK2 in MK2−/− MEF significantly increased α-SMA expression. MK2−/−MEF proliferated at a faster rate and produced more collagen; however, they migrated at a slower rate than wild-type MEF. Overexpressing phosphomimicking HSP27, a target of MK2, did not reverse the effect of MK2 disruption on fibroblast migration. MK2 disruption did not affect Smad2 activation by transforming growth factor-β. Thus, MK2 appears to mediate myofibroblast differentiation, and inhibiting that differentiation might contribute to fibrosis rather than protect against it.
actin; cytoskeleton; fibroblast; p38; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
The pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis is linked to oxidative stress, possibly generated by the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generating NADPH oxidase NOX4. Epithelial cell death is a crucial early step in the development of the disease, followed only later by the fibrotic stage. We demonstrate that in lungs of patients with idiopathic lung fibrosis, there is strong expression of NOX4 in hyperplastic alveolar type II cells. Aim: To study a possible causative role of NOX4 in the death of alveolar cells, we have generated NOX4-deficient mice. Results: Three weeks after administration of bleomycin, wild-type (WT) mice developed massive fibrosis, whereas NOX4-deficient mice displayed almost normal lung histology, and only little Smad2 phosphorylation and accumulation of myofibroblasts. However, the protective effects of NOX4 deficiency preceded the fibrotic stage. Indeed, at day 7 after bleomycin, lungs of WT mice showed massive increase in epithelial cell apoptosis and inflammation. In NOX4-deficient mice, no increase in apoptosis was observed, whereas inflammation was comparable to WT. In vitro, NOX4-deficient primary alveolar epithelial cells exposed to transforming growth factor-β1 did not generate ROS and were protected from apoptosis. Acute treatment with the NOX inhibitors also blunted transforming growth factor-β1–induced apoptosis. Conclusion: ROS generation by NOX4 is a key player in epithelial cell death leading to pulmonary fibrosis. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 15, 607–619.
Thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) is an extracellular protein critical to normal lung homeostasis, and is reported to activate latent transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β). Because active TGF-β is causally involved in lung fibrosis after bleomycin challenge, alterations in TSP-1 may be relevant to pulmonary fibrosis. We sought to determine the effects of TSP-1 deficiency on the susceptibility to bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in a murine model. Age-matched and sex-matched C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) and TSP-1–deficient mice were treated twice weekly for 4 weeks with intraperitoneal bleomycin (0.035 U/g) or PBS, and were allowed to rest 1 week before being killed. Their lungs were inflated with PBS, fixed in formalin, paraffin-embedded, and sectioned. A certified veterinary pathologist blindly scored each slide for inflammation and fibrosis. Lungs were homogenized to obtain RNA and protein for the real-time RT-PCR analysis of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and collagen I, and for Western blotting to detect phospho-Smad2, or total Smad2/3, respectively. In response to bleomycin treatment, measures of fibrosis and inflammation, along with CTGF and collagen I mRNA concentrations, were increased in TSP-1–deficient mice compared with WT mice. Notably, Smad 2/3 signaling was of equal strength in WT and TSP-1 knockout mice treated with bleomycin, suggesting that TSP-1 is not required for the activation of TGF-β. These results demonstrate that TSP-1 deficiency does not protect mice from systemic bleomycin challenge, and that TSP-1 deficiency is associated with increased expression of lung collagen and CTGF.
TSP-1; pulmonary fibrosis; TGF-β; bleomycin
Abnormal repair and dysregulated angiogenesis have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis, but the underlying mechanisms of regulation are not well understood. The present study investigated the role of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt in fibrogenesis of human lung fibroblasts and its regulation by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Exposure of lung fibroblasts to bleomycin, a known inducer of fibrosis, resulted in rapid activation of PI3K/Akt and a parallel increase in fibroblast proliferation and collagen production, characteristics of lung fibrosis. Bleomycin had no significant effect on total Akt protein expression but induced phosphorylation of the protein at threonine 308 and serine 473 positions. Inhibition of this phosphorylation by PI3K inhibitors or by dominant-negative Akt (T308A/S473A) expression abrogated the effects of bleomycin on fibroblast proliferation and collagen production, suggesting the role of PI3K/Akt in the fibrogenic process. Activation of PI3K/Akt by bleomycin also led to transcriptional activation and protein expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and vascular endothelial growth factor, which contributed to the fibroproliferative and collagen-inducing effects of bleomycin. The fibrogenic effects of bleomycin were dependent on ROS generation, particularly superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide, which were induced by bleomycin. Inhibition of ROS generation by antioxidant enzymes, catalase and superoxide dismutase mimetic MnTBAP, abrogated the fibrogenic effects of bleomycin as well as its induction of PI3K/Akt and HIF-1α activation. Together, our results indicate a novel role of PI3K/Akt in fibrogenesis of human lung fibroblasts and its regulation by ROS, which could be exploited for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis and related disorders.
collagen; bleomycin; PI3K; Akt; ROS
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive diffuse disease involving the lung parenchyma. Despite recent advances, the molecular mechanisms of the initiation and progression of this disease remain elusive. Previous studies have demonstrated TGFβ1 as a key effector cytokine in the development of lung fibrosis.
In this study we have used a transgenic mouse based strategy to identify the effect of overexpression of this key effector mediator on the development of pulmonary fibrosis in response to exogenous injury. We bred two lines (line 25 and 18) of transgenic mice (Tr+) that overexpressed active TGFβ1. Three-month old transgenic and wild type mice were subsequently wounded with intraperitoneal bleomycin. Mice were sacrificed at 6 weeks post-bleomycin and their lungs analysed histologically and biochemically.
The severity of lung fibrosis was significantly greater in the Tr+ mice compared to the wild type mice. Using an oligonucleotide microarray based strategy we identified discrete patterns of gene expression contributing to TGFβ1 associated pulmonary fibrosis.
This data emphasises the importance of a host predisposition in the form of endogenous TGFβ1, in the development of pulmonary fibrosis in response to an exogenous injury.
The sphingomyelin/ceramide signaling pathway is an important component of many cellular processes implicated in the pathogenesis of lung disease. Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is a key mediator of this pathway, but its specific role in pulmonary fibrosis has not been previously investigated. Here we used the bleomycin model of pulmonary fibrosis to investigate fibrotic responses in normal and ASM knockout (ASM−/−) mice, and in NIH3T3 fibroblasts with and without ASM siRNA treatment.
Mice and cells with and without ASM activity were treated with bleomycin, and the effects on lung inflammation, formation of collagen producing myofibroblasts, and apoptosis were assessed.
The development of bleomycin-induced inflammation and fibrosis in wildtype mice correlated with the rapid activation of ASM, and was markedly attenuated in the absence of ASM activity. Along with the elevated ASM activity, there also was an elevation of acid ceramidase (AC) activity, which was sustained for up to 14 days post-bleomycin treatment. Studies in NIH3T3 fibroblasts confirmed these findings, and revealed a direct effect of ASM/AC activation on the formation of myofibroblasts. Cell studies also showed that a downstream effect of bleomycin treatment was the production of sphingosine-1-phosphate.
These data demonstrate that the sphingomyelin/ceramide signaling pathway is involved in the pathogenesis of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, and suggest that inhibition of ASM may potentially slow the fibrotic process in the lung.
Sphingolipids; Signal transduction; Cell growth; Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a group of devastating and largely irreversible diseases. Phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4 is involved in the processes of remodeling and inflammation, which play key role in tissue fibrosis. The aim of the study was, therefore, to investigate the effect of PDE4 inhibition in experimental model of PF.
PF was induced in C57BL/6N mice by instillation of bleomycin. Pharmacological inhibition of PDE4 was achieved by using cilomilast, a selective PDE4 inhibitor. Changes in either lung inflammation or remodeling were evaluated at different stages of experimental PF. Lung inflammation was assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) differential cell count and reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) for inflammatory cytokines. Changes in tissue remodeling were evaluated by pulmonary compliance measurement, quantified pathological examination, measurement of collagen deposition and RT-qPCR for late remodeling markers. Survival in all groups was analyzed as well.
PDE4 inhibition significantly reduced the total number of alveolar inflammatory cells in BALF of mice with bleomycin-induced PF at early fibrosis stage (days 4 and 7). Number of macrophages and lymphocytes, but not neutrophils, was significantly reduced as well. Treatment decreased lung tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α mRNA level and increased mRNA level of interleukin (IL)-6 but did not influence IL-1β. At later stage (days 14 and 24) cilomilast improved lung function, which was shown by increase in lung compliance. It also lowered fibrosis degree, as was shown by quantified pathological examination of Hematoxilin-Eosin stained lung sections. Cilomilast had no significant effect on the expression of late remodeling markers such as transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and collagen type Ia1 (COL(I)α1). However, it tended to restore the level of lung collagen, assessed by SIRCOL assay and Masson's trichrome staining, and to improve the overall survival.
Selective PDE4 inhibition suppresses early inflammatory stage and attenuates the late stage of experimental pulmonary fibrosis.
Sphingolipids and in particular ceramide have been shown to be critically involved in the response to many receptor-mediated, but also receptor-independent, mainly stress stimuli. Recent studies demonstrate that ceramide plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis, a hereditary metabolic disorder caused by mutations of the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator. Patients with cystic fibrosis suffer from chronic pulmonary inflammation and microbial lung infections, in particular with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Chronic pulmonary inflammation in these patients seems to be the initial pathophysiological event. Inflammation may finally result in the high infection susceptibility of these patients, fibrosis and loss of lung function. Recent studies demonstrated that ceramide accumulates in lungs of cystic fibrosis mice and causes age-dependent pulmonary inflammation as indicated by accumulation of neutrophils and macrophages in the lung and increased pulmonary concentrations of Interleukins 1 and 8, death of bronchial epithelial cells, deposition of DNA in bronchi and high susceptibility to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of the acid sphingomyelinase blocks excessive ceramide production in lungs of cystic fibrosis mice and corrects pathological lung findings. First clinical studies confirm that inhibition of the acid sphingomyelinase with small molecules might be a novel strategy to treat patients with cystic fibrosis.
Sphingomyelinase; ceramide; cystic fibrosis; inflammation; cell death.
Inhibition of transglutaminase 2 reduces bleomycin-induced epithelial cell release of interleukin 6 in vitro and pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis in vivo.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a potentially life-threatening disease that may be caused by overt or asymptomatic inflammatory responses. However, the precise mechanisms by which tissue injury is translated into inflammation and consequent fibrosis remain to be established. Here, we show that in a lung injury model, bleomycin induced the secretion of IL-6 by epithelial cells in a transglutaminase 2 (TG2)–dependent manner. This response represents a key step in the differentiation of IL-17–producing T cells and subsequent inflammatory amplification in the lung. The essential role of epithelial cells, but not inflammatory cells, TG2 was confirmed in bone marrow chimeras; chimeras made in TG2-deficient recipients showed reduced inflammation and fibrosis, compared with those in wild-type mice, regardless of the bone marrow cell phenotype. Epithelial TG2 thus appears to be a critical inducer of inflammation after noninfectious pulmonary injury. We further demonstrated that fibroblast-derived TG2, acting downstream of transforming growth factor-β, is also important in the effector phase of fibrogenesis. Therefore, TG2 represents an interesting potential target for therapeutic intervention.
Recent advances in fibrosis biology have identified transforming growth factor (TGF)‐β type I receptor‐mediated activation of Smads as playing a central part in the development of fibrosis. However, to date, there have been few studies that examined the localisation and distribution of receptor‐activated Smads protein (R‐Smads: Smad2 and 3) during the fibrosis progression.
To histopathologically assess the time‐course change of the localisation and distribution of the Smads protein in pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis was induced by intranasal injection of bleomycin (0.3 U/mouse). Lungs were isolated 2, 5, 7, 9 and 14 days after bleomycin treatment. Histological changes in the lungs were evaluated by haematoxylin‐eosin stain or Masson's trichrome stain, and scored. TGF‐β1, Smad3 and phosphorylated Smad2 localisations in lung tissues were determined by immunohistochemistry.
The bleomycin treatment led to considerable pulmonary fibrotic changes accompanied by marked increase in TGF‐β1 expression in infiltrating macrophages. With the progression in fibrosis (day 7–14), marked increases in Smad3‐positive and pSmad2‐positive cells were observed. There were intense Smad3‐positive and pSmad2‐positive signals localised to the nuclei of the infiltrating macrophages and to type II epithelial cells, and less intense signals in fibroblasts and hyperplastic alveolar/bronchiolar epithelial cells.
The time‐course data of TGF‐β1 and R‐Smads indicate that progressive enhancement of TGF‐β1 signalling via R‐Smad is activated in the process of fibrosis progression.
Lung fibrosis is a devastating pulmonary disorder characterized by alveolar epithelial injury, extracellular matrix deposition and scar tissue formation. Due to its potent collagenolytic activity, cathepsin K, a lysosomal cysteine protease is an interesting target molecule with therapeutic potential to attenuate bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice. We here tested the hypothesis that over-expression of cathepsin K in the lungs of mice is protective in bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis.
Wild-type and cathepsin K overexpressing (cathepsin K transgenic; cath K tg) mice were challenged intratracheally with bleomycin and sacrificed at 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks post-treatment followed by determination of lung fibrosis by estimating lung collagen content, lung histopathology, leukocytic infiltrates and lung function. In addition, changes in cathepsin K protein levels in the lung were determined by immunohistochemistry, real time RT-PCR and western blotting.
Cathepsin K protein levels were strongly increased in alveolar macrophages and lung parenchymal tissue of mock-treated cathepsin K transgenic (cath K tg) mice relative to wild-type mice and further increased particularly in cath K tg but also wild-type mice in response to bleomycin. Moreover, cath K tg mice responded with a lower collagen deposition in their lungs, which was accompanied by a significantly lower lung resistance (RL) compared to bleomycin-treated wild-type mice. In addition, cath K tg mice responded with a lower degree of lung fibrosis than wild-type mice, a process that was found to be independent of inflammatory leukocyte mobilization in response to bleomycin challenge.
Over-expression of cathepsin K reduced lung collagen deposition and improved lung function parameters in the lungs of transgenic mice, thereby providing at least partial protection against bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis.
Metabolites of arachidonic acid such as prostacyclin (PGI2) have been shown to participate in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting the expression of pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic mediators. In this investigation, we examined whether iloprost, a stable PGI2 analogue, could prevent bleomycin-induced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis in a mouse model.
Mice received a single intratracheal injection of bleomycin with or without intraperitoneal iloprost. Pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis were analysed by histological evaluation, cellular composition of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and hydroxyproline content. Lung mechanics were measured. We also analysed the expression of inflammatory mediators in BAL fluid and lung tissue.
Administration of iloprost significantly improved survival rate and reduced weight loss in the mice induced by bleomycin. The severe inflammatory response and fibrotic changes were significantly attenuated in the mice treated with iloprost as shown by reduction in infiltration of inflammatory cells into the airways and pulmonary parenchyma, diminution in interstitial collagen deposition, and lung hydroxyproline content. Iloprost significantly improved lung static compliance and tissue elastance. It increased the expression of IFNγ and CXCL10 in lung tissue measured by RT-PCR and their levels in BAL fluid as measured by ELISA. Levels of TNFα, IL-6 and TGFβ1 were lowered by iloprost.
Iloprost prevents bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, possibly by upregulating antifibrotic mediators (IFNγ and CXCL10) and downregulating pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic cytokines (TNFα, IL-6, and TGFβ1). Prostacyclin may represent a novel pharmacological agent for treating pulmonary fibrotic diseases.
Aims: The perforin mediated pathway is the major pathway of cytotoxicity induced by activated T cells and natural killer cells, and may be involved in the development of pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods: Perforin and granzyme B expression were examined in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis by means of immunohistochemistry, and perforin knockout mice were used to examine whether or not perforin mediated cytotoxicity participates in the pathophysiology of bleomycin induced pneumopathy.
Results: Perforin and granzyme B expression were upregulated in infiltrating lymphocytes in lung tissue from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis compared with normal lung parenchyma. Perforin and granzyme B expression were upregulated predominantly in infiltrating mononuclear cells after bleomycin instillation in wild-type mice. Although the development of bleomycin induced pneumopathy was not completely prevented, the pathological grade of inflammation and fibrosis, and the number of apoptotic cells in lung tissue, were significantly decreased in perforin knockout mice compared with wild-type mice.
Conclusions: These results suggest that perforin mediated apoptosis may be associated with the pathophysiology of lung injury and fibrosis.
perforin; granzyme B; lung injury; fibrosis; apoptosis
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived eicosanoids have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Uncertainty regarding the influence of COX-2 on experimental pulmonary fibrosis prompted us to clarify the fibrotic and functional effects of intratracheal bleomycin administration in mice genetically deficient in COX-2. Further, the effects of airway-specific COX-1 overexpression on fibrotic and functional outcomes in wild-type and COX-2 knockout mice were assessed. Equivalent increases in airway cell influx, lung collagen content, and histopathologic evidence of fibrosis were observed in wild-type and COX-2 knockout mice 21 d after bleomycin treatment, suggesting that COX-2 deficiency did not alter the extent or severity of fibrosis in this model. However, bleomycin-induced alterations in respiratory mechanics were more severe in COX-2 knockout mice than in wild-type mice, as illustrated by a greater decrease in static compliance compared with genotype-matched, saline-treated control mice (26 ± 3% versus 11 ± 4% decreases for COX-2 knockout and wild-type mice, respectively; P < 0.05). The influence of COX-1 overexpression in airway Clara cells was also examined. Whereas the fibrotic effects of bleomycin were not altered in wild-type or COX-2 knockout mice overexpressing COX-1, the exaggerated lung function decrement in bleomycin-treated COX-2 knockout mice was prevented by COX-1 overexpression and coincided with decreased airway cysteinyl leukotriene levels. Collectively, these data suggest an important regulatory role for COX-2 in the maintenance of lung function in the setting of lung fibrosis, but not in the progression of the fibrotic process per se.
cyclooxygenase; fibrosis; respiratory mechanics; prostaglandin; transgenic
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived eicosanoids have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Uncertainty regarding the influence of COX-2 on experimental pulmonary fibrosis prompted us to clarify the fibrotic and functional effects of intratracheal bleomycin administration in mice genetically deficient in COX-2. Further, the effects of airway-specific COX-1 overexpression on fibrotic and functional outcomes in wild type and COX-2 knockout mice were assessed. Equivalent increases in airway cell influx, lung collagen content and histopathological evidence of fibrosis were observed in wild type and COX-2 knockout mice 21 days following bleomycin treatment, suggesting that COX-2 deficiency did not alter the extent or severity of fibrosis in this model. However, bleomycin- induced alterations in respiratory mechanics were more severe in COX-2 knockout mice than in wild type mice as illustrated by a greater decrease in static compliance compared to genotype- matched, saline-treated control mice (26 ± 3% vs. 11 ± 4% decreases for COX-2 knockout and wild type mice, respectively; p<0.05). The influence of COX-1 overexpression in airway Clara cells was also examined. Whereas the fibrotic effects of bleomycin were not altered in wild type or COX-2 knockout mice overexpressing COX-1, the exaggerated lung function decrement in bleomycin-treated COX-2 knockout mice was prevented by COX-1 overexpression and coincided with decreased airway cysteinyl leukotriene levels. Collectively, these data suggest an important regulatory role for COX-2 in the maintenance of lung function in the setting of lung fibrosis, but not in the progression of the fibrotic process per se.
cyclooxygenase; fibrosis; respiratory mechanics; prostaglandin; transgenic
Leukotrienes are increased locally in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Furthermore, a role for these arachidonic acid metabolites has been thoroughly characterized in the animal bleomycin model of lung fibrosis by using different gene knock-out settings.
We investigated the efficacy of pharmacological inhibition of leukotrienes activity in the development of bleomycin-induced lung injury by comparing the responses in wild-type mice with mice treated with zileuton, a 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor and MK-571, a cys-leukotrienes receptor antagonist.
Mice were subjected to intra-tracheal administration of bleomycin or saline and were assigned to receive either MK-571 at 1 mg/Kg or zileuton at 50 mg/Kg daily. One week after bleomycin administration, BAL cell counts, lung histology with van Gieson for collagen staining and immunohistochemical analysis for myeloperoxidase, IL-1 and TNF-α were performed.
Following bleomycin administration both MK-571 and zileuton treated mice exhibited a reduced degree of lung damage and inflammation when compared to WT mice as shown by the reduction of:(i) loss of body weight, (ii) mortality rate, (iii) lung infiltration by neutrophils (myeloperoxidase activity, BAL total and differential cell counts), (iv) lung edema, (v) histological evidence of lung injury and collagen deposition, (vi) lung myeloperoxidase, IL-1 and TNF-α staining.
This is the first study showing that the pharmacological inhibition of leukotrienes activity attenuates bleomycin-induced lung injury in mice. Given our results as well as those coming from genetic studies, it might be considered meaningful to trial this drug class in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that still represents a major challenge to medical treatment.
TGF-β plays an important role in lung fibrosis, which is a major cause of suffering and death seen in pulmonary disease. Smad7 has been recently identified as an antagonist of TGF-β signaling. To investigate whether this novel molecule can be exploited for therapy of lung fibrosis, we determined the effect of exogenous Smad7, introduced by a recombinant human type 5 adenovirus vector, on bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis in mice. C57BL/6 mice with bleomycin-induced lungs received an intratracheal injection of a recombinant adenovirus carrying mice Smad7 cDNA. These mice demonstrated suppression of type I precollagen mRNA, reduced hydroxyproline content, and no morphological fibrotic responses in the lungs when compared with mice administered adenovirus carrying Smad6 cDNA. In addition, we found that expression of Smad7 transgene blocked Smad2 phosphorylation induced by bleomycin in mouse lungs. These data indicated that gene transfer of Smad7 (but not Smad6) prevented bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis, suggesting that Smad7 may have applicability in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
The molecular mechanisms of acute lung injury resulting in inflammation and fibrosis are not well established. Here we investigate the roles of the IL-1 receptor 1 (IL-1R1) and the common adaptor for Toll/IL-1R signal transduction, MyD88, in this process using a murine model of acute pulmonary injury. Bleomycin insult results in expression of neutrophil and lymphocyte chemotactic factors, chronic inflammation, remodeling, and fibrosis. We demonstrate that these end points were attenuated in the lungs of IL-1R1– and MyD88-deficient mice. Further, in bone marrow chimera experiments, bleomycin-induced inflammation required primarily MyD88 signaling from radioresistant resident cells. Exogenous rIL-1β recapitulated a high degree of bleomycin-induced lung pathology, and specific blockade of IL-1R1 by IL-1 receptor antagonist dramatically reduced bleomycin-induced inflammation. Finally, we found that lung IL-1β production and inflammation in response to bleomycin required ASC, an inflammasome adaptor molecule. In conclusion, bleomycin-induced lung pathology required the inflammasome and IL-1R1/MyD88 signaling, and IL-1 represented a critical effector of pathology and therapeutic target of chronic lung inflammation and fibrosis.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) remains a disease with an unknown cause and a poor prognosis. Among attempts to define disease pathogenesis, animal models of experimental lung fibrosis have a prominent role. Commonly employed models include exposure to bleomycin, silica, fluorescein isothiocyanate; irradiation; or expression of specific genes through a viral vector or transgenic system. These have all been instrumental in the study of lung fibrosis, but all have limitations and fall short of recapitulating a pattern of usual interstitial pneumonia, the pathologic correlate to IPF. A model of repetitive bleomycin lung injury has recently been reported that results in marked lung fibrosis, prominent alveolar epithelial cell hyperplasia, a pattern of temporal heterogeneity, and persistence of aberrant remodeling well after stimulus removal, representing a significant addition to the collection of animal lung fibrosis models. Taken together, animal models remain a key component in research strategies to better define IPF pathogenesis.
bleomycin; bronchoalveolar stem cell; epithelial mesenchymal transition; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; lung
Recent evidence has underscored the role of hypoxia and angiogenesis in the pathogenesis of idiopathic fibrotic lung disease. Inhibitor of growth family member 4 (ING4) has recently attracted much attention as a tumor suppressor gene, due to its ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, migration and angiogenesis. The aim of our study was to investigate the role of ING4 in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis both in the bleomycin (BLM)-model and in two different types of human pulmonary fibrosis, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP).
Experimental model of pulmonary fibrosis was induced by a single tail vein injection of bleomycin in 6- to 8-wk-old C57BL/6mice. Tissue microarrays coupled with qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry were applied in whole lung samples and paraffin-embedded tissue sections of 30 patients with IPF, 20 with COP and 20 control subjects.
A gradual decline of ING4 expression in both mRNA and protein levels was reported in the BLM-model. ING4 was also found down-regulated in IPF patients compared to COP and control subjects. Immunolocalization analyses revealed increased expression in areas of normal epithelium and in alveolar epithelium surrounding Masson bodies, in COP lung, whereas showed no expression within areas of active fibrosis within IPF and COP lung. In addition, ING4 expression levels were negatively correlated with pulmonary function parameters in IPF patients.
Our data suggest a potential role for ING4 in lung fibrogenesis. ING4 down-regulation may facilitate aberrant vascular remodelling and fibroblast proliferation and migration leading to progressive disease.
Mice deleted for the plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) gene are relatively protected from developing pulmonary fibrosis induced by bleomycin. We hypothesized that PAI-1 deficiency reduces fibrosis by promoting plasminogen activation and accelerating the clearance of fibrin matrices that accumulate within the damaged lung. In support of this hypothesis, we found that the lungs of PAI-1–/– mice accumulated less fibrin after injury than wild-type mice, due in part to enhanced fibrinolytic activity. To further substantiate the importance of fibrin removal as the mechanism by which PAI-1 deficiency limited bleomycin-induced fibrosis, bleomycin was administered to mice deficient in the gene for the Aα-chain of fibrinogen (fib). Contrary to our expectation, fib–/– mice developed pulmonary fibrosis to a degree similar to fib+/– littermate controls, which have a plasma fibrinogen level that is 70% of that of wild-type mice. Although elimination of fibrin from the lung was not in itself protective, the beneficial effect of PAI-1 deficiency was still associated with proteolytic activity of the plasminogen activation system. In particular, inhibition of plasmin activation and/or activity by tranexamic acid reversed both the accelerated fibrin clearance and the protective effect of PAI-1 deficiency. We conclude that protection from fibrosis by PAI-1 deficiency is dependent upon increased proteolytic activity of the plasminogen activation system; however, complete removal of fibrin is not sufficient to protect the lung.
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is an essential regulatory cytokine that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse facets of the injury and repair responses in the lung. The types of responses that it elicits can be appreciated in studies from our laboratory that demonstrated that the transgenic (Tg) overexpression of TGF-β1 in the murine lung causes epithelial apoptosis followed by fibrosis, inflammation, and parenchymal destruction. Because a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21, is a key regulator of apoptosis, we hypothesized that p21 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of TGF-β1–induced tissue responses. To test this hypothesis we evaluated the effect of TGF-β1 on the expression of p21 in the murine lung. We also characterized the effects of transgenic TGF-β1 in mice with wild-type and null mutant p21 loci. These studies demonstrate that TGF-β1 is a potent stimulator of p21 expression in the epithelial cells and macrophages in the murine lung. They also demonstrate that TGF-β1–induced lung inflammation, fibrosis, myofibroblast accumulation, and alveolar destruction are augmented in the absence of p21, and that these alterations are associated with exaggerated levels of apoptosis and caspase-3 activation. Finally, our studies further demonstrated that TGF-β1 induces p21 via a TNF-α–signaling pathway and that p21 is a negative modulator of TGF-β1–induced TNF-α expression. Collectively, our studies demonstrate that p21 regulates TGF-β1–induced apoptosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and alveolar remodeling by interacting with TNF-α–signaling pathways.
TGF-β; p21; apoptosis; fibrosis; emphysema