Fibrogenesis is usually initiated when regenerative processes have failed and/or chronic inflammation occurs. It is characterised by the activation of tissue fibroblasts and dysregulated synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins. FHL2 (four-and-a-half LIM domain protein 2) is a scaffolding protein that interacts with numerous cellular proteins, regulating signalling cascades and gene transcription. It is involved in tissue remodelling and tumour progression. Recent data suggest that FHL2 might support fibrogenesis by maintaining the transcriptional expression of alpha smooth muscle actin and the excessive synthesis and assembly of matrix proteins in activated fibroblasts. Here, we present evidence that FHL2 does not promote bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis, but rather suppresses this process by attenuating lung inflammation. Loss of FHL2 results in increased expression of the pro-inflammatory matrix protein tenascin C and downregulation of the macrophage activating C-type lectin receptor DC-SIGN. Consequently, FHL2 knockout mice developed a severe and long-lasting lung pathology following bleomycin administration due to enhanced expression of tenascin C and impaired activation of inflammation-resolving macrophages.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal interstitial lung disease characterized by progressive scarring and matrix deposition. Recent reports highlight an autoimmune component in IPF pathogenesis. We have reported anti-col(V) immunity in IPF patients. The objective of our study was to determine the specificity of col(V) expression profile and anti-col(V) immunity relative to col(I) in clinical IPF and the efficacy of nebulized col(V) in pre-clinical IPF models.
Col(V) and col(I) expression profile was analyzed in normal human and IPF tissues. C57-BL6 mice were intratracheally instilled with bleomycin (0.025 U) followed by col(V) nebulization at pre-/post-fibrotic stage and analyzed for systemic and local responses.
Compared to normal lungs, IPF lungs had higher protein and transcript expression of the alpha 1 chain of col(V) and col(I). Systemic anti-col(V) antibody concentrations, but not of anti-col(I), were higher in IPF patients. Nebulized col(V), but not col(I), prevented bleomycin-induced fibrosis, collagen deposition, and myofibroblast differentiation. Col(V) treatment suppressed systemic levels of anti-col(V) antibodies, IL-6 and TNF-α; and local Il-17a transcripts. Compared to controls, nebulized col(V)-induced tolerance abrogated antigen-specific proliferation in mediastinal lymphocytes and production of IL-17A, IL-6, TNF-α and IFN-γ. In a clinically relevant established fibrosis model, nebulized col(V) decreased collagen deposition. mRNA array revealed downregulation of genes specific to fibrosis (Tgf-β, Il-1β, Pdgfb), matrix (Acta2, Col1a2, Col3a1, Lox, Itgb1/6, Itga2/3) and members of the TGF-β superfamily (Tgfbr1/2, Smad2/3, Ltbp1, Serpine1, Nfkb/Sp1/Cebpb).
Anti-col(V) immunity is pathogenic in IPF, and col(V)-induced tolerance abrogates bleomycin-induced fibrogenesis and down regulates TGF- β-related signaling pathways.
Abnormal TGF-β1/Smad3 activation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis, which can be prevented by paclitaxel (PTX). This study aimed to investigate an antifibrotic effect of the low-dose PTX (10 to 50 nM in vitro, and 0.6 mg/kg in vivo). PTX treatment resulted in phenotype reversion of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) with increase of miR-140. PTX resulted in an amelioration of bleomycin (BLM)-induced pulmonary fibrosis in rats with reduction of the wet lung weight to body weight ratios and the collagen deposition. Our results further demonstrated that PTX inhibited the effect of TGF-β1 on regulating the expression of Smad3 and phosphorylated Smad3 (p-Smad3), and restored the levels of E-cadherin, vimentin and α-SMA. Moreover, lower miR-140 levels were found in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients, TGF-β1-treated AECs and BLM-instilled rat lungs. Through decreasing Smad3/p-Smad3 expression and upregulating miR-140, PTX treatment could significantly reverse the EMT of AECs and prevent pulmonary fibrosis of rats. The action of PTX to ameliorate TGF-β1-induced EMT was promoted by miR-140, which increased E-cadherin levels and reduced the expression of vimentin, Smad3 and p-Smad3. Collectively, our results demonstrate that low-dose PTX prevents pulmonary fibrosis by suppressing the TGF-β1/Smad3 pathway via upregulating miR-140.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disorder that may be hereditable (HPAH), idiopathic (IPAH), or associated with either drug-toxin exposures or other medical conditions. Familial cases have long been recognised and are usually due to mutations in Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptor type 2 gene (BMPR2), or, much less commonly, 2 other members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily, Activin-like Kinase-Type I (ALK1) and Endoglin (ENG), which are associated with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. In addition, approximately 20% of patients with IPAH carry mutations in BMPR2. We provide a summary of BMPR2 mutations associated with IPAH/HPAH, most of which are unique to each family and are presumed to result in loss of function. We review the finding of missense variants and variants of unknown significance in BMPR2 in IPAH/HPAH, fenfluramine exposure, and PAH associated with congenital heart disease. Clinical testing for BMPR2 mutations is available and may be offered to HPAH and IPAH patients but should be preceded by genetic counselling, since lifetime penetrance is only 10%–20%, and there are currently no known effective preventative measures. Identification of a familial mutation can be valuable in reproductive planning and identifying family members who are not mutation carriers and thus will not require lifelong surveillance. With advances in genomic technology and with international collaborative efforts, genome-wide association studies will be conducted to identify additional genes for HPAH, genetic modifiers for BMPR2 penetrance, and genetic susceptibility to IPAH. In addition, collaborative studies of BMPR2 mutation carriers should enable identification of environmental modifiers, biomarkers for disease development and progression, and surrogate markers for efficacy end points in clinical drug development, thereby providing an invaluable resource for trials of PAH prevention.
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension; Genetics; Genomics
Airway remodelling, including smooth muscle remodelling, is a primary cause of airflow limitation in asthma. Recent evidence links bronchoconstriction to airway remodelling in asthma. The mechanisms involved are poorly understood. A possible player is the multifunctional cytokine TGF-β, which plays an important role in airway remodelling. Guinea pig lung slices were used as an in vitro model to investigate mechanisms involved in bronchoconstriction-induced airway remodelling. To address this aim, mechanical effects of bronchoconstricting stimuli on contractile protein expression and TGF-β release were investigated. Lung slices were viable for at least 48 h. Both methacholine and TGF-β1 augmented the expression of contractile proteins (sm-α-actin, sm-myosin, calponin) after 48 h. Confocal fluorescence microscopy showed that increased sm-myosin expression was enhanced in the peripheral airways and the central airways. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that methacholine-induced bronchoconstriction mediated the release of biologically active TGF-β, which caused the increased contractile protein expression, as inhibition of actin polymerization (latrunculin A) or TGF-β receptor kinase (SB431542) prevented the methacholine effects, whereas other bronchoconstricting agents (histamine and KCl) mimicked the effects of methacholine. Collectively, bronchoconstriction promotes the release of TGF-β, which induces airway smooth muscle remodelling. This study shows that lung slices are a useful in vitro model to study mechanisms involved in airway remodelling.
To-date, most invasion or migration assays use a modified Boyden chamber-like design to assess migration as single-cell or scratch assays on coated or uncoated planar plastic surfaces. Here, we describe a 96-well microplate-based, high-content, three-dimensional cell culture assay capable of assessing invasion dynamics and molecular signatures thereof. On applying our invasion assay, we were able to demonstrate significant effects on the invasion capacity of fibroblast cell lines, as well as primary lung fibroblasts. Administration of epidermal growth factor resulted in a substantial increase of cellular invasion, thus making this technique suitable for high-throughput pharmacological screening of novel compounds regulating invasive and migratory pathways of primary cells. Our assay also correlates cellular invasiveness to molecular events. Thus, we argue of having developed a powerful and versatile toolbox for an extensive profiling of invasive cells in a 96-well format. This will have a major impact on research in disease areas like fibrosis, metastatic cancers, or chronic inflammatory states.
Non-Small-Cell-Lung-Cancer (NSCLC) represents approximately 85% of all lung cancers and remains poorly understood. While signaling pathways operative during organ development, including Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) and associated Gli transcription factors (Gli1-3), have recently been found to be reactivated in NSCLC, their functional role remains unclear. Here, we hypothesized that Shh/Gli1-3 could mediate NSCLC autonomous proliferation and epithelial/stromal signaling in the tumoral tissue. In this context, we have investigated the activity of Shh/Gli1-3 signaling in NSCLC in both, cancer and stromal cells. We report here that inhibition of Shh signaling induces a significant decrease in the proliferation of NSCLC cells. This effect is mediated by Gli1 and Gli2, but not Gli3, through regulation of cyclin D1 and cyclin D2 expression. While exogenous Shh was unable to induce signaling in either A549 lung adenocarcinoma or H520 lung squamous carcinoma cells, both cells were found to secrete Shh ligand, which induced fibroblast proliferation, survival, migration, invasion, and collagen synthesis. Furthermore, Shh secreted by NSCLC mediates the production of proangiogenic and metastatic factors in lung fibroblasts. Our results thus provide evidence that Shh plays an important role in mediating epithelial/mesenchymal crosstalk in NSCLC. While autonomous Gli activity controls NSCLC proliferation, increased Shh expression by NSCLC is associated with fibroblast activation in tumor-associated stroma. Our study highlights the relevance of studying stromal-associated cells in the context of NSCLC regarding new prognosis and therapeutic options.
Although multidrug-resistance-associated protein-1 (MRP1) is a major contributor to multi-drug resistance (MDR), the regulatory mechanism of Mrp1 still remains unclear. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that regulates cellular defense response through antioxidant response elements (AREs) in normal tissues. Recently, Nrf2 has emerged as an important contributor to chemo-resistance in tumor tissues. In the present study, the role of Nrf2-ARE pathway on regulation of Mrp1 was investigated. Compared with H69 lung cancer cells, H69AR cells with MDR showed significantly higher Nrf2-ARE pathway activity and expression of Mrp1 as well. When Nrf2 was knocked down in H69AR cells, MRP1's expression decreased accordingly. Moreover, those H69AR cells with reduced Nrf2 level restored sensitivity to chemo-drugs. To explore how Nrf2-ARE pathway regulates Mrp1, the promoter of Mrp1 gene was searched, and two putative AREs—ARE1 and ARE2—were found. Using reporter gene and ChIP assay, both ARE1 and ARE2 showed response to and interaction with Nrf2. In 40 cases of cancer tissues, the expression of Nrf2 and MRP1 was measured by immunohistochemistry (IHC). As the quantitive data of IHC indicated, both Nrf2 and MRP1 showed significantly higher expression in tumor tissue than adjacent non-tumor tissue. And more important, the correlation analysis of the two genes proved that their expression was correlative. Taken together, theses data suggested that Nrf2-ARE pathway is required for the regulatory expression of Mrp1 and implicated Nrf2 as a new therapeutic target for MDR.
Pulmonary fibrosis can be experimentally induced in small rodents by bleomycin. The antibiotic is usually administered via the intratracheal or intranasal routes. In the present study, we investigated the oropharyngeal aspiration of bleomycin as an alternative route for the induction of lung fibrosis in rats and mice. The development of lung injury was followed in vivo by ultrashort echo time magnetic resonance imaging (UTE-MRI) and by post-mortem analyses (histology of collagen, hydroxyproline determination, and qRT-PCR). In C57BL/6 mice, oropharyngeal aspiration of bleomycin led to more prominent lung fibrosis as compared to intranasal administration. Consequently, the oropharyngeal aspiration route allowed a dose reduction of bleomycin and, therewith, a model refinement. Moreover, the distribution of collagen after oropharyngeal aspiration of bleomycin was more homogenous than after intranasal administration: for the oropharyngeal aspiration route, fibrotic areas appeared all over the lung lobes, while for the intranasal route fibrotic lesions appeared mainly around the largest superior airways. Thus, oropharyngeal aspiration of bleomycin induced morphological changes that were more comparable to the human disease than the intranasal administration route did. Oropharyngeal aspiration of bleomycin led to a homogeneous fibrotic injury also in rat lungs. The present data suggest oropharyngeal aspiration of bleomycin as a less invasive means to induce homogeneous and sustained fibrosis in the lungs of mice and rats.
Nuclear myosin I (NM1) is a nuclear isoform of the well-known “cytoplasmic” Myosin 1c protein (Myo1c). Located on the 11th chromosome in mice, NM1 results from an alternative start of transcription of the Myo1c gene adding an extra 16 amino acids at the N-terminus. Previous studies revealed its roles in RNA Polymerase I and RNA Polymerase II transcription, chromatin remodeling, and chromosomal movements. Its nuclear localization signal is localized in the middle of the molecule and therefore directs both Myosin 1c isoforms to the nucleus.
In order to trace specific functions of the NM1 isoform, we generated mice lacking the NM1 start codon without affecting the cytoplasmic Myo1c protein. Mutant mice were analyzed in a comprehensive phenotypic screen in cooperation with the German Mouse Clinic. Strikingly, no obvious phenotype related to previously described functions has been observed. However, we found minor changes in bone mineral density and the number and size of red blood cells in knock-out mice, which are most probably not related to previously described functions of NM1 in the nucleus. In Myo1c/NM1 depleted U2OS cells, the level of Pol I transcription was restored by overexpression of shRNA-resistant mouse Myo1c. Moreover, we found Myo1c interacting with Pol II. The ratio between Myo1c and NM1 proteins were similar in the nucleus and deletion of NM1 did not cause any compensatory overexpression of Myo1c protein.
We observed that Myo1c can replace NM1 in its nuclear functions. Amount of both proteins is nearly equal and NM1 knock-out does not cause any compensatory overexpression of Myo1c. We therefore suggest that both isoforms can substitute each other in nuclear processes.
To assess whether grating-based X-ray dark-field imaging can increase the sensitivity of X-ray projection images in the diagnosis of pulmonary emphysema and allow for a more accurate assessment of emphysema distribution.
Materials and Methods
Lungs from three mice with pulmonary emphysema and three healthy mice were imaged ex vivo using a laser-driven compact synchrotron X-ray source. Median signal intensities of transmission (T), dark-field (V) and a combined parameter (normalized scatter) were compared between emphysema and control group. To determine the diagnostic value of each parameter in differentiating between healthy and emphysematous lung tissue, a receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed both on a per-pixel and a per-individual basis. Parametric maps of emphysema distribution were generated using transmission, dark-field and normalized scatter signal and correlated with histopathology.
Transmission values relative to water were higher for emphysematous lungs than for control lungs (1.11 vs. 1.06, p<0.001). There was no difference in median dark-field signal intensities between both groups (0.66 vs. 0.66). Median normalized scatter was significantly lower in the emphysematous lungs compared to controls (4.9 vs. 10.8, p<0.001), and was the best parameter for differentiation of healthy vs. emphysematous lung tissue. In a per-pixel analysis, the area under the ROC curve (AUC) for the normalized scatter value was significantly higher than for transmission (0.86 vs. 0.78, p<0.001) and dark-field value (0.86 vs. 0.52, p<0.001) alone. Normalized scatter showed very high sensitivity for a wide range of specificity values (94% sensitivity at 75% specificity). Using the normalized scatter signal to display the regional distribution of emphysema provides color-coded parametric maps, which show the best correlation with histopathology.
In a murine model, the complementary information provided by X-ray transmission and dark-field images adds incremental diagnostic value in detecting pulmonary emphysema and visualizing its regional distribution as compared to conventional X-ray projections.
Lung development occurs under relative hypoxia and the most important oxygen-sensitive response pathway is driven by Hypoxia Inducible Factors (HIF). HIFs are heterodimeric transcription factors of an oxygen-sensitive subunit, HIFα, and a constitutively expressed subunit, HIF1β. HIF1α and HIF2α, encoded by two separate genes, contribute to the activation of hypoxia inducible genes. A third HIFα gene, HIF3α, is subject to alternative promoter usage and splicing, leading to three major isoforms, HIF3α, NEPAS and IPAS. HIF3α gene products add to the complexity of the hypoxia response as they function as dominant negative inhibitors (IPAS) or weak transcriptional activators (HIF3α/NEPAS). Previously, we and others have shown the importance of the Hif1α and Hif2α factors in lung development, and here we investigated the role of Hif3α during pulmonary development. Therefore, HIF3α was conditionally expressed in airway epithelial cells during gestation and although HIF3α transgenic mice were born alive and appeared normal, their lungs showed clear abnormalities, including a post-pseudoglandular branching defect and a decreased number of alveoli. The HIF3α expressing lungs displayed reduced numbers of Clara cells, alveolar epithelial type I and type II cells. As a result of HIF3α expression, the level of Hif2α was reduced, but that of Hif1α was not affected. Two regulatory genes, Rarβ, involved in alveologenesis, and Foxp2, a transcriptional repressor of the Clara cell specific Ccsp gene, were significantly upregulated in the HIF3α expressing lungs. In addition, aberrant basal cells were observed distally as determined by the expression of Sox2 and p63. We show that Hif3α binds a conserved HRE site in the Sox2 promoter and weakly transactivated a reporter construct containing the Sox2 promoter region. Moreover, Hif3α affected the expression of genes not typically involved in the hypoxia response, providing evidence for a novel function of Hif3α beyond the hypoxia response.
The inhalation of silica particles induces silicosis, an inflammatory and fibrotic lung disease characterized by the early accumulation of macrophages and neutrophils in the airspace and subsequent appearance of silicotic nodules as a result of progressive fibrosis. This study evaluated whether apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) protects against ongoing fibrosis and promotes the resolution of established experimental lung silicosis. Crystallized silica was intratracheally administered to 6- to 8-week-old transgenic mice expressing human ApoA1 in their alveolar epithelial cells (day 0). ApoA1 was overexpressed beginning on day 7 (ApoA1_D7 group) or day 15 (ApoA1_D15 group). The mice were sacrificed on day 30 for an evaluation of lung histology; the measurement of collagen, transforming growth factor-b1 and lipoxin A4; and a TUNEL assay for apoptotic cells. The ApoA1_D7 and D15 groups showed significant reductions in the silica-induced increase in inflammatory cells, silicotic nodule area, and collagen deposition compared with the silica-treated ApoA1 non-overexpressing mice. The level of transforming growth factor-b1 decreased in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, whereas lipoxin A4 was increased in the ApoA1_D7 and D15 groups compared with the silica-treated ApoA1 non-overexpressing mice. The silica-induced increase in the number of apoptotic cells was significantly reduced in the lungs of mice overexpressing ApoA1. Overexpression of ApoA1 decreased silica-induced lung inflammation and fibrotic nodule formation. The restoration of lipoxin A4 may contribute to the protective effect of ApoA1 overexpression against silica-induced lung fibrosis.
Fibrocytes are circulating precursors for fibroblasts. Blood fibrocytes are increased in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The aim of this study was to determine whether alveolar fibrocytes are detected in broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL), to identify their prognostic value, and their potential association with culture of fibroblasts from BAL.
We quantified fibrocytes in BAL from 26 patients with IPF, 9 patients with Systemic Sclerosis(SSc)-interstitial lung disease (ILD), and 11 controls. BAL cells were cultured to isolate alveolar fibroblasts.
Fibrocytes were detected in BAL in 14/26 IPF (54%) and 5/9 SSc patients (55%), and never in controls. Fibrocytes were in median 2.5% [0.4–19.7] and 3.0% [2.7–3.7] of BAL cells in IPF and SSc-ILD patients respectively. In IPF patients, the number of alveolar fibrocytes was correlated with the number of alveolar macrophages and was associated with a less severe disease but not with a better outcome. Fibroblasts were cultured from BAL in 12/26 IPF (46%), 5/9 SSc-ILD (65%) and never in controls. The detection of BAL fibrocytes did not predict a positive culture of fibroblasts.
Fibrocytes were detected in BAL fluid in about half of the patients with IPF and SSc-ILD. Their number was associated with less severe disease in IPF patients and did not associate with the capacity to grow fibroblasts from BAL fluid.
The biological effects of inhalable nanoparticles have been widely studied in vitro with pulmonary cells cultured under submerged and air-liquid interface (ALI) conditions. Submerged exposures are experimentally simpler, but ALI exposures are physiologically more realistic and hence potentially biologically more meaningful. In this study, we investigated the cellular response of human alveolar epithelial-like cells (A549) to airborne agglomerates of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles at the ALI, compared it to the response under submerged culture conditions, and provided a quantitative comparison with the literature data on different types of particles and cells. For ZnO nanoparticle doses of 0.7 and 2.5 μg ZnO/cm2 (or 0.09 and 0.33 cm2 ZnO/cm2), cell viability was not mitigated and no significant effects on the transcript levels of oxidative stress markers (HMOX1, SOD-2 and GCS) were observed. However, the transcript levels of proinflammatory markers (IL-8, IL-6, and GM-CSF) were induced to higher levels under ALI conditions. This is consistent with the literature data and it suggests that in vitro toxicity screening of nanoparticles with ALI cell culture systems may produce less false negative results than screening with submerged cell cultures. However, the database is currently too scarce to draw a definite conclusion on this issue.
Renal ischemia increases tubular immunogenicity predisposing to increased risk of kidney allograft rejection. Ischemia–reperfusion not only disrupts cellular homeostasis but also induces the cytoprotective heat shock response that also plays a major role in cellular immune and defense processes. This study therefore tested the hypothesis that upregulation of renal tubular immunogenicity is an integral part of the heat shock response after renal ischemia. Expressions of 70 kDa heat shock protein (Hsp70), major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) were assessed in normal rat kidney (NRK) cells following ATP depletion (antimycin A for 3 h) and heat (42°C for 24 h). In vitro, transient Hsp70 transfection and heat shock factor-1 (HSF-1) transcription factor decoy treatment were performed. In vivo, ischemic renal cortex was investigated in Sprague–Dawley rats following unilateral renal artery clamping for 45 min and 24 h recovery. Upregulation of Hsp70 was closely and significantly correlated with upregulation of MHC class II and/or ICAM-1 following ATP depletion and heat injury. Bioinformatics analysis searching the TRANSFAC database predicted HSF-1 binding sites in these genes. HSF-1 decoy significantly reduced the expression of immunogenicity markers in stressed NRK cells. In the in vivo rat model of renal ischemia, concordant upregulation of MHC class II molecules and Hsp70 suggests biological relevance of this link. The results demonstrate that upregulation of renal tubular immunogenicity is an integral part of the heat shock response after renal ischemia. Bioinformatic analysis predicted a molecular link to tubular immunogenicity at the level of the transcription factor HSF-1 that was experimentally verified by HSF-1 decoy treatment. Future studies in HSF-1 knockout mice are needed.
Renal transplantation; Ischemia; Stress response; Immunogenicity; Heat shock proteins
Chronic lung diseases (CLDs), including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are the second leading cause of death worldwide. The first report of database-driven drug discovery in carefully phenotyped COPD specimens has now been published in Genome Medicine, combining gene expression data in defined emphysematous areas with connectivity-map-based compound discovery. This joint effort may lead the way to novel and potentially more efficient concepts of personalized drug discovery for COPD in particular, and CLD in general.
See research article http://genomemedicine.com/content/4/8/67/abstract
Autophagy is a basic cellular homeostatic process important to cell fate decisions under conditions of stress. Dysregulation of autophagy impacts numerous human diseases including cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease. This study investigates the role of autophagy in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Human lung tissues from patients with IPF were analyzed for autophagy markers and modulating proteins using western blotting, confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. To study the effects of TGF-β1 on autophagy, human lung fibroblasts were monitored by fluorescence microscopy and western blotting. In vivo experiments were done using the bleomycin-induced fibrosis mouse model.
Lung tissues from IPF patients demonstrate evidence of decreased autophagic activity as assessed by LC3, p62 protein expression and immunofluorescence, and numbers of autophagosomes. TGF-β1 inhibits autophagy in fibroblasts in vitro at least in part via activation of mTORC1; expression of TIGAR is also increased in response to TGF-β1. In the bleomycin model of pulmonary fibrosis, rapamycin treatment is antifibrotic, and rapamycin also decreases expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin by fibroblasts in vitro. Inhibition of key regulators of autophagy, LC3 and beclin-1, leads to the opposite effect on fibroblast expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin.
Autophagy is not induced in pulmonary fibrosis despite activation of pathways known to promote autophagy. Impairment of autophagy by TGF-β1 may represent a mechanism for the promotion of fibrogenesis in IPF.
Myofibroblast differentiation, characterized by α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, is a key process in organ fibrosis, and is induced by TGF-β. Here we examined whether an anti-fibrotic agent, N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysylproline (Ac-SDKP), can regulate induction of TGF-β signaling and myofibroblast differentiation as a potential key component of its anti-fibrotic mechanism in vivo and in vitro.
Rat pulmonary fibroblasts were cultured in vitro and divided to 4 groups 1) control; 2) TGF-β1; 3) TGF-β1+ LY364947; 4) TGF-β1+Ac-SDKP. For in vivo studies, six groups of animals were utilized 1) control 4w; 2) silicotic 4w; 3) control 8w; 4) silicotic 8w; 5) Ac-SDKP post-treatment; 6)Ac-SDKP pre-treatment. SiO2 powders were douched in the trachea of rat to make the silicotic model. Myofibroblast differentiation was measured by examining expression of α-SMA, as well as expression of serum response factor (SRF), a key regulator of myofibroblast differentiation. The expressions of collagen, TGF-β1 and RAS signaling were also assessed. The results revealed that TGF-β1 strongly induced myofibroblast differentiation and collagen synthesis in vitro, and that pre-treatment with Ac-SDKP markedly attenuated myofibroblast activation, as well as induction of TGF-β1 and its receptor. Similar results were observed in vivo in the pathologically relevant rat model of silicosis. Ac-SDKP treatment in vivo strongly attenuated 1) silicosis-induced increased expressions of TGF-β1 and RAS signaling, 2) myofibroblast differentiation as indicated by a robust decrease of SRF and α-SMA-positive myofibroblast localization in siliconic nodules in the lung, 3) collagen deposition.
The results of the present study suggest a novel mechanism of action for Ac-SDKP’s beneficial effect in silicosis, which involves attenuation of TGF-β1 and its receptors, SRF and Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1) expression, collagen deposition and myofibroblast differentiation. The results further suggest that therapies targeting myofibroblast differentiation may have therapeutic efficacy in treatment of silicosis of the lung.
Tissue-specific transcripts are likely to be of importance for the corresponding organ. While attempting to define the specific transcriptome of the human lung, we identified the transcript of a yet uncharacterized protein, SFTA2. In silico analyses, biochemical methods, fluorescence imaging and animal challenge experiments were employed to characterize SFTA2. Human SFTA2 is located on Chr. 6p21.33, a disease-susceptibility locus for diffuse panbronchiolitis. RT-PCR verified the abundance of SFTA2-specific transcripts in human and mouse lung. SFTA2 is synthesized as a hydrophilic precursor releasing a 59 amino acid mature peptide after cleavage of an N-terminal secretory signal. SFTA2 has no recognizable homology to other proteins while orthologues are present in all mammals. SFTA2 is a glycosylated protein and specifically expressed in nonciliated bronchiolar epithelium and type II pneumocytes. In accordance with other hydrophilic surfactant proteins, SFTA2 did not colocalize with lamellar bodies but colocalized with golgin97 and clathrin-labelled vesicles, suggesting a classical secretory pathway for its expression and secretion. In the mouse lung, Sfta2 was significantly downregulated after induction of an inflammatory reaction by intratracheal lipopolysaccharides paralleling surfactant proteins B and C but not D. Hyperoxia, however, did not alter SFTA2 mRNA levels. We have characterized SFTA2 and present it as a novel unique secretory peptide highly expressed in the lung.
Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) is a multipotential cytokine with angiogenic activity. There are only limited data about its role in airway remodeling in COPD. We have previously shown that the reticular basement membrane (Rbm) is hypervascular in the airways of current smokers either with or without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study evaluated TGF-β1 immunostaining in the Rbm and its relationship to vascularity in smokers with or without COPD.
Bronchial biopsies from 15 smokers with normal lung function, 19 current and 14 ex-smokers with COPD were immunostained for TGF-β1 antibody and compared to 17 healthy controls. The percentage area of tissue and also number and area of vessels staining positively for TGF-β1 were measured and compared between groups. Some bronchial biopsies from current smoking COPD subjects were also stained for phosphorylated (active) Smad2/3. Epithelial TGF- β1 staining was not different between COPD current smokers and normal controls. TGF-β1 stained vessels in the Rbm were increased in smokers with normal lung function, current smoking COPD and ex-smokers with COPD compared to controls [median (range) for number of vessels/mm Rbm 2.5 (0.0–12.7), 3.4 (0.0–8.1) and 1.0 (0.0–6.3) vs. 0.0 (0.0–7.0), p<0.05]. Percentage of vessels stained was also increased in these clinical groups. Preliminary data suggest that in current smoking COPD subjects endothelial cells and cells in the Rbm stain positively for phosphorylated Smad2/3 suggesting TGF-β1 is functionally active in this situation.
Vessel-associated TGF-β1 activity is increased in the bronchial Rbm in smokers and especially those with COPD.
A simple, nonparametric and distribution free method was developed for quick identification of the most meaningful biomarkers among a number of candidates in complex biological phenomena, especially in relatively small samples. This method is independent of rigid model forms or other link functions. It may be applied both to metric and non-metric data as well as to independent or matched parallel samples. With this method identification of the most relevant biomarkers is not based on inferential methods; therefore, its application does not require corrections of the level of significance, even in cases of thousands of variables. Hence, the introduced method is appropriate to analyze and evaluate data of complex investigations in clinical and pre-clinical basic research, such as gene or protein expressions, phenotype-genotype associations in case-control studies on the basis of thousands of genes and SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism), search of prevalence in sleep EEG-Data, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or others.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by profound changes in the lung phenotype including excessive extracellular matrix deposition, myofibroblast foci, alveolar epithelial cell hyperplasia and extensive remodeling. The role of epigenetic changes in determining the lung phenotype in IPF is unknown. In this study we determine whether IPF lungs exhibit an altered global methylation profile.
Immunoprecipitated methylated DNA from 12 IPF lungs, 10 lung adenocarcinomas and 10 normal histology lungs was hybridized to Agilent human CpG Islands Microarrays and data analysis was performed using BRB-Array Tools and DAVID Bioinformatics Resources software packages. Array results were validated using the EpiTYPER MassARRAY platform for 3 CpG islands. 625 CpG islands were differentially methylated between IPF and control lungs with an estimated False Discovery Rate less than 5%. The genes associated with the differentially methylated CpG islands are involved in regulation of apoptosis, morphogenesis and cellular biosynthetic processes. The expression of three genes (STK17B, STK3 and HIST1H2AH) with hypomethylated promoters was increased in IPF lungs. Comparison of IPF methylation patterns to lung cancer or control samples, revealed that IPF lungs display an intermediate methylation profile, partly similar to lung cancer and partly similar to control with 402 differentially methylated CpG islands overlapping between IPF and cancer. Despite their similarity to cancer, IPF lungs did not exhibit hypomethylation of long interspersed nuclear element 1 (LINE-1) retrotransposon while lung cancer samples did, suggesting that the global hypomethylation observed in cancer was not typical of IPF.
Our results provide evidence that epigenetic changes in IPF are widespread and potentially important. The partial similarity to cancer may signify similar pathogenetic mechanisms while the differences constitute IPF or cancer specific changes. Elucidating the role of these specific changes will potentially allow better understanding of the pathogenesis of IPF.
Cigarette smoke-induced release of pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-8 (IL-8) from inflammatory as well as structural cells in the airways, including airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells, may contribute to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Despite the wide use of pharmacological treatment aimed at increasing intracellular levels of the endogenous suppressor cyclic AMP (cAMP), little is known about its exact mechanism of action. We report here that next to the β2-agonist fenoterol, direct and specific activation of either exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (Epac) or protein kinase A (PKA) reduced cigarette smoke extract (CSE)-induced IL-8 mRNA expression and protein release by human ASM cells. CSE-induced IκBα-degradation and p65 nuclear translocation, processes that were primarily reversed by Epac activation. Further, CSE increased extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, which was selectively reduced by PKA activation. CSE decreased Epac1 expression, but did not affect Epac2 and PKA expression. Importantly, Epac1 expression was also reduced in lung tissue from COPD patients. In conclusion, Epac and PKA decrease CSE-induced IL-8 release by human ASM cells via inhibition of NF-κB and ERK, respectively, pointing at these cAMP effectors as potential targets for anti-inflammatory therapy in COPD. However, cigarette smoke exposure may reduce anti-inflammatory effects of cAMP elevating agents via down-regulation of Epac1.
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor in the development of age-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The serotonin transporter (SERT) gene polymorphism has been reported to be associated with COPD, and the degree of cigarette smoking has been shown to be a significant mediator in this relationship. The interrelation between circulating serotonin (5-hydroxytyptamine, 5-HT), cigarette smoking and COPD is however largely unknown. The current study aimed at investigating the mediation effects of plasma 5-HT on cigarette smoking-induced COPD and the relation between plasma 5-HT levels and age.
The association between plasma 5-HT, age and COPD was analyzed in a total of 62 COPD patients (ever-smokers) and 117 control subjects (healthy non-smokers and ever-smokers). Plasma 5-HT levels were measured by enzyme-linked immuno assay (EIA).
The elevated plasma 5-HT levels were significantly associated with increased odds for COPD (OR = 1.221, 95% CI = 1.123 to 1.319, p<0.0001). The effect remained significant after being adjusted for age and pack-years smoked (OR = 1.271, 95% CI = 1.134 to 1.408, p = 0.0003). Furthermore, plasma 5-HT was found to mediate the relation between pack-years smoked and COPD. A positive correlation (r = 0.303, p = 0.017) was found between plasma 5-HT levels and age in COPD, but not in the control subjects (r = −0.149, p = 0.108).
Our results suggest that cigarette smoke-induced COPD is partially mediated by the plasma levels of 5-HT, and that these become elevated with increased age in COPD. The elevated plasma 5-HT levels in COPD might contribute to the pathogenesis of this disease.