This perspective highlights advances in the understanding of the role of cellular metabolism in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. Insights gained in the past 20 years have revealed several similarities between the cellular processes underlying the pulmonary vascular remodeling in pulmonary hypertension and those seen in cancer processes. In line with these insights, there is increasing recognition that abnormal cellular metabolism, notably of aerobic glycolysis (the “Warburg effect”), the potential involvement of hypoxia-inducible factor in this process, and alterations in mitochondrial function, are key elements in the pathogenesis of this disease. The glycolytic shift may underlie the resistance to apoptosis and increased vascular cell proliferation, which are hallmarks of pulmonary hypertension. These investigations have led to novel approaches in the diagnosis and therapy of pulmonary hypertension.
glycolytic shift; hypoxia-inducible factor; fatty acid oxidation; right ventricular hypertrophy; pulmonary hypertension
The current epidemic of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has produced a worldwide health care burden, approaching that imposed by transmittable infectious diseases. COPD is a multidimensional disease, with varied intermediate and clinical phenotypes. This Review discusses the pathogenesis of COPD, with particular focus on emphysema, based on the concept that pulmonary injury involves stages of initiation (by exposure to cigarette smoke, pollutants, and infectious agents), progression, and consolidation. Tissue damage entails complex interactions among oxidative stress, inflammation, extracellular matrix proteolysis, and apoptotic and autophagic cell death. Lung damage by cigarette smoke ultimately leads to self-propagating processes, resulting in macromolecular and structural alterations — features similar to those seen in aging.
The maintenance of the alveolar structure is required throughout life. To accomplish this goal, alveolar cells, including endothelial, epithelial, and fibroblastic cells, provide key molecules with broad survival and antiapoptotic effects. These complex interactions are disrupted by cigarette smoke, leading to emphysema. Smoke imposes an environmental stress to the lung with the activation of “sensor-like” molecular signaling. Activation of RTP801, leading to mTOR inhibition, is paradigmatic of these responses. The accumulation of cellular damage, with the generation of endogenous mediators of inflammation, may proceed toward an aging phenotype. These alterations may impose significant challenges to cell-based regenerative or pharmacological therapies.
alveolus; emphysema; cigarette smoke; COPD; mTOR
The article by Yao and coworkers in this issue (Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 2008;39:7–18) reveals that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21CIP1/WAF1/SDI1 (designated hereafter as p21), which has been linked to cell cycle growth arrest due to stress or danger cell responses, may modulate alveolar inflammation and alveolar destruction, and thus enlightens our present understanding of how the lung senses injury due to cigarette smoke and integrates these responses with those that activate inflammatory pathways potentially harmful to the lung (1). Furthermore, the interplay of p21 and cellular processes involving cell senescence and the imbalance of cell proliferation/apoptosis may provide us with a more logical explanation of how p21, acting as a sensor of cellular stress, might have such potent and wide roles in lung responses triggered by cigarette smoke. Molecular switches, ontologically designed for the protection of the host, are now hijacked by injurious stresses (such as cigarette smoke), leading to organ damage.
Rationale: Germline mutations in the enzyme telomerase cause telomere shortening, and have their most common clinical manifestation in age-related lung disease that manifests as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Short telomeres are also a unique heritable trait that is acquired with age.
Objectives: We sought to understand the mechanisms by which telomerase deficiency contributes to lung disease.
Methods: We studied telomerase null mice with short telomeres.
Measurements and Main Results: Although they have no baseline histologic defects, when mice with short telomeres are exposed to chronic cigarette smoke, in contrast with controls, they develop emphysematous air space enlargement. The emphysema susceptibility did not depend on circulating cell genotype, because mice with short telomeres developed emphysema even when transplanted with wild-type bone marrow. In lung epithelium, cigarette smoke exposure caused additive DNA damage to telomere dysfunction, which limited their proliferative recovery, and coincided with a failure to down-regulate p21, a mediator of cellular senescence, and we show here, a determinant of alveolar epithelial cell cycle progression. We also report early onset of emphysema, in addition to pulmonary fibrosis, in a family with a germline deletion in the Box H domain of the RNA component of telomerase.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that short telomeres lower the threshold of cigarette smoke–induced damage, and implicate telomere length as a genetic susceptibility factor in emphysema, potentially contributing to its age-related onset in humans.
telomerase; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; dyskeratosis congenita; interstitial lung disease
Viruses constitute a constant and renewed threat to humans. Not only do viruses cause disease directly due to their tissue tropism and pathogenicity, but they have also been linked to autoimmunity. In their study in this issue of the JCI, Kang et al. show that exposure to cigarette smoke induces alterations in the innate immune response to viral infection and that these changes hasten alveolar destruction characteristic of emphysema in mice (see the related beginning on page 2771). This study builds on evidence that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have clinical exacerbations associated with viral or bacterial infections, which lead to worsened lung function and increased mortality. This novel paradigm may aid related genetic, biomarker, and therapeutic developments and provides important insights into the pathogenesis of emphysematous lung destruction.
Centrilobular emphysema caused by chronic cigarette smoking is a heterogeneous disease with a predominance of upper lobe involvement. It is presumed that this heterogeneity indicates a particular susceptibility to cigarette smoke or the fact that the inhaled smoke distributes preferentially to upper lung zones. The less involved areas might therefore retain the capacity for lung regeneration and gain of pulmonary function in terminally ill patients. We propose that the interplay between molecular and cellular switches involved in the lung response to environmental injuries determines the heterogeneous pattern of emphysema due to cigarette smoke. Regional activation of alveolar destruction by apoptosis and oxidative stress coupled with regional failure of defense mechanisms may account for the irregular pattern of lung destruction in cigarette smoke–induced emphysema. Protection afforded by the key antioxidant transcription factor Nrf-2 and the antiproteolytic and antiapoptotic actions of α1-antitrypsin is central to maintain lung homeostasis and lung structure. As the lung is injured by environmental pollutants, including cigarette smoke, molecular sensors of cellular stress, such as the mTOR/protein translation regulator RTP-801, may engage both inflammation and alveolar cell apoptosis. As injury prevails during the course of this chronic disease, it leads to a more homogeneous pattern of lung disease.
aging; apoptosis; emphysema; inflammation; oxidative stress
Emphysema consists of a unique pattern of alveolar destruction, resulting in marked airspace enlargement with reduction of alveolar capillary exchange area. Classical concepts of the pathogenesis of emphysema have relied on the paradigm set by the inflammation and protease/antiprotease imbalance. We propose herein that cigarette smoke constitutes an environmental hazard that causes alveolar destruction by the interaction of apoptosis, oxidative stress, and protease/antiprotease imbalance. We draw a parallel between organismal aging, organ structural maintenance, and the damage resulting from chronic cigarette smoke inhalation. The stochastic interaction between environmental hazards and the effort of an organism or a particular organ to fend off these hazards results in the accumulation of cellular damage and features characteristic of aging. Inflammation follows as the result of the multiplication of injuries. We highlight the importance of understanding the biology of the interaction of alveolar cells in homeostasis and in alveolar destruction, and the potential role of novel processes related to senescence and stress response. An evolutionary perspective of emphysema that incorporates mechanisms related to aging may lead to important advances in the understanding and therapeutic targeting of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
aging; apoptosis; emphysema; inflammation; oxidative stress
It has been well demonstrated that phosphodiesterase-5A (PDE5A) is expressed in smooth muscle cells and plays an important role in regulation of vascular tone. The role of endothelial PDE5A, however, has not been yet characterized. The present study was undertaken to determine the presence, localization, and potential physiologic significance of PDE5A within vascular endothelial cells.
Methods and results
We demonstrate primary location of human, mouse, and bovine endothelial PDE5A at or near caveolae. We found that the spatial localization of PDE5A at the level of caveolin-rich lipid rafts allows for a feedback loop between endothelial PDE5A and nitric oxide synthase (NOS3). Treatment of human endothelium with PDE5A inhibitors resulted in a significant increase in NOS3 activity, whereas overexpression of PDE5A using an adenoviral vector, both in vivo and in cell culture, resulted in decreased NOS3 activity and endothelium-dependent vasodilation. The molecular mechanism responsible for these interactions is primarily regulated by cGMP-dependent second messenger. PDE5A overexpression also resulted in a significant decrease in protein kinase 1 (PKG1) activity. Overexpression of PKG1 rapidly activated NOS3, whereas silencing of the PKG1 gene with siRNA inhibited both NOS3 phosphorylation (S1179) and activity, indicating a novel role for PKG1 in direct regulation of NOS3.
Our data collectively suggest another target for PDE5A inhibition in endothelial dysfunction and provide another physiologic significance for PDE5A in the modulation of endothelial-dependent flow-mediated vasodilation. Using both in vitro and in vivo models, as well as human data, we show that inhibition of endothelial PDE5A improves endothelial function.
PDE5A; Phosphodiesterase; Endothelial cells; Lipid rafts; Caveolin-1; Sildenafil; NOS3; cGMP; Adenoviral transfection; Primary human endothelial cells; Signalling pathway; Pulmonary circulation
α-1 Antitrypsin (A1AT) is a serpin with a major protective effect against cigarette smoke–induced emphysema development, and patients with mutations of the A1AT gene display a markedly increased risk for developing emphysema. We reported that A1AT protects lung endothelial cells from apoptosis and inhibits caspase-3 activity. It is not clear if cigarette smoking or A1AT mutations alter the caspase-3 inhibitory activity of A1AT and if this serpin alters the function of other caspases. We tested the hypothesis that the caspase-3 inhibitory activity of A1AT is impaired by cigarette smoking and that the A1AT RCL, the key antiprotease domain of the serpin, is required for its interaction with the caspase. We examined the caspase-3 inhibitory activity of human A1AT purified from plasma of actively smoking and nonsmoking individuals, either affected or unaffected with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We also tested the caspase inhibitory activity of two mutant forms of A1AT, the recombinant human piZZ and the RCL–deleted (RCL-null) A1AT forms. A1AT purified from the blood of active smokers exhibited marked attenuation in its caspase-3 inhibitory activity, independent of disease status. In vitro exposure of the normal (MM) form of A1AT to cigarette smoke extract reduced its ability to interact with caspase-3, measured by isothermal titration calorimetry, as did the deletion of the RCL, but not the ZZ point mutation. In cell-free assays A1AT was capable of inhibiting all executioner caspases, -3, -7 and especially -6, but not the initiator or inflammatory caspases. The inhibitory effect of A1AT against caspase-6 was tested in vivo, where overexpression of both human MM and ZZ-A1AT via adeno-associated virus transduction significantly protected against apoptosis and against airspace damage induced by intratracheal instillation of caspase-6 in mice. These data indicate a specific inhibitory effect of A1AT on executioner caspases, which is profoundly attenuated by active exposure to cigarette smoking and is dependent on the protein RCL, but is not affected by the PiZZ mutation.
Rationale: Vascular remodeling in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) involves proliferation and migration of endothelial and smooth muscle cells, leading to obliterative vascular lesions. Previous studies have indicated that the endothelial cell proliferation is quasineoplastic, with evidence of monoclonality and instability of short DNA microsatellite sequences.
Objectives: To assess whether there is larger-scale genomic instability.
Methods: We performed genome-wide microarray copy number analysis on pulmonary artery endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells isolated from the lungs of patients with PAH.
Measurements and Main Results: Mosaic chromosomal abnormalities were detected in PAEC cultures from five of nine PAH lungs but not in normal (n = 8) or disease control subjects (n = 5). Fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis confirmed the presence of these abnormalities in vivo in two of three cases. One patient harbored a germline mutation of BMPR2, the primary genetic cause of PAH, and somatic loss of chromosome-13, which constitutes a second hit in the same pathway by deleting Smad-8. In two female subjects with mosaic loss of the X chromosome, methylation analysis showed that the active X was deleted. One subject also showed completely skewed X-inactivation in the nondeleted cells, suggesting the pulmonary artery endothelial cell population was clonal before the acquisition of the chromosome abnormality.
Conclusions: Our data indicate a high frequency of genetically abnormal subclones within PAH lung vessels and provide the first definitive evidence of a second genetic hit in a patient with a germline BMPR2 mutation. We propose that these chromosome abnormalities may confer a growth advantage and thus contribute to the progression of PAH.
endothelium; somatic genetics; chromosome deletion
α1-Antitrypsin (A1AT) is a polyvalent, acute-phase reactant with an extensive range of biological functions that go beyond those usually linked to its antiprotease (serpin) activities. Genetic mutations cause a systemic deficiency of A1AT, leading to liver and pulmonary diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The pathogenesis of emphysema, which involves the destruction of small airway structures and alveolar units, is triggered by cigarette smoke and pollutants. The tissue damage caused by these agents is further potentiated by the mutual interactions between apoptosis, oxidative stress, and protease/antiprotease imbalance. These processes lead to the activation of endogenous mediators of tissue destruction, including the lipid ceramide, extracellular matrix proteins, and abnormal inflammatory cell signaling. In this review, we propose that A1AT has a range of actions that are not restricted to protease inhibition but rather extend to mitigate a range of these pathological processes involved in the development of emphysema. We discuss the evidence indicating that A1AT blocks apoptosis by binding and inhibiting active caspase-3 and modulates a broad range of inflammatory responses induced by neutrophils and by lipopolyssacharide and tumor necrosis factor-α signaling.
COPD; apoptosis; inflammation; proteinase inhibitor; serpin
Pulmonary hypertension is a severe and progressive disease, a key feature of which is pulmonary vascular remodeling. Several growth factors, including EGF, PDGF, and TGF-β1, are involved in pulmonary vascular remodeling during pulmonary hypertension. However, increased knowledge of the downstream signaling cascades is needed if effective clinical interventions are to be developed. In this context, calpain provides an interesting candidate therapeutic target, since it is activated by EGF and PDGF and has been reported to activate TGF-β1. Thus, in this study, we examined the role of calpain in pulmonary vascular remodeling in two rodent models of pulmonary hypertension. These data showed that attenuated calpain activity in calpain-knockout mice or rats treated with a calpain inhibitor resulted in prevention of increased right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, as well as collagen deposition and thickening of pulmonary arterioles in models of hypoxia- and monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension. Additionally, inhibition of calpain in vitro blocked intracellular activation of TGF-β1, which led to attenuated Smad2/3 phosphorylation and collagen synthesis. Finally, smooth muscle cells of pulmonary arterioles from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension showed higher levels of calpain activation and intracellular active TGF-β. Our data provide evidence that calpain mediates EGF- and PDGF-induced collagen synthesis and proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells via an intracrine TGF-β1 pathway in pulmonary hypertension.
Schistosomiasis-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is one of the most common causes of pulmonary hypertension worldwide. A potential contributing mechanism to the pathogenesis of this disease is a localized immune reaction to retained and persistent parasite-derived antigens. We sought to identify Schistosoma-derived egg antigens present in the lungs of individuals who died of the disease. We obtained 18 lung samples collected at autopsy from individuals who died of schistosomiasis-associated PAH in Brazil. A rabbit polyclonal antibody was created to known Schistosoma mansoni-soluble egg antigen (SEA). Histologic assessment and immunostaining of the human tissue was performed, along with immunostaining and immunoblotting of lung tissue from mice experimentally infected with S. mansoni. All 18 lung samples had evidence of pulmonary vascular remodeling with plexiform lesions and arterial medial thickening, but no visible eggs were seen. The anti-SEA antibody detected S. mansoni egg antigens in visible eggs in mouse lung and human intestine specimens, but did not identify a significant amount of egg antigen in the human lung specimens. In mouse granulomas containing degraded eggs, we observed colocalization of egg antigens and macrophage lysosomes. In conclusion, there is unlikely to be a significant amount of persistent parasite-derived antigens within the lungs of individuals who die of schistosomiasis-associated PAH. This suggests that retained and persistent parasite proteins are not contributing to a localized immune response in the pathogenesis of this disease.
pulmonary arterial hypertension; pulmonary hypertension; schistosomiasis
Pulmonary emphysema is a disease characterized by alveolar cellular loss and inflammation. Recently, excessive apoptosis of structural alveolar cells has emerged as a major mechanism in the development of emphysema. Here, we investigated the proapoptotic and monocyte chemoattractant cytokine endothelial monocyte-activating protein 2 (EMAPII). Lung-specific overexpression of EMAPII in mice caused simplification of alveolar structures, apoptosis, and macrophage accumulation, compared with that in control transgenic mice. Additionally, in a mouse model of cigarette smoke–induced (CS-induced) emphysema, EMAPII levels were significantly increased in murine lungs. This upregulation was necessary for emphysema development, as neutralizing antibodies to EMAPII resulted in reduced alveolar cell apoptosis, inflammation, and emphysema-associated structural changes in alveoli and small airways and improved lung function. The mechanism of EMAPII upregulation involved an apoptosis-dependent feed-forward loop, since caspase-3 instillation in the lung markedly increased EMAPII expression, while caspase inhibition decreased its production, even in transgenic EMAPII mice. These findings may have clinical significance, as both current smokers and ex-smoker chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients had increased levels of secreted EMAPII in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid compared with that of nonsmokers. In conclusion, we suggest that EMAPII perpetuates the mechanism of CS-induced lung emphysema in mice and, given its secretory nature, is a suitable target for neutralization antibody therapy.
Exposure to cigarette smoke (CS) is the primary factor associated with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CS increases the level of oxidants in the lungs, resulting in a depletion of antioxidants, which promotes oxidative stress and the destruction of alveolar tissue. In response to CS, pulmonary epithelial cells counteract increased levels of oxidants by activating Nrf2-dependent pathways to augment the expression of detoxification and antioxidant enzymes, thereby protecting the lung from injury. We hypothesize that increasing the pathways activated by Nrf2 will afford protection against CS-induced lung damage. To this end we have developed a novel mouse model in which the cytosolic inhibitor of Nrf2, Keap1, is genetically deleted in Clara cells, which predominate in the upper airways in mice. Deletion of Keap1 in Clara cells resulted in increased expression of Nrf2-dependent genes, such as Nqo1 and Gclm, as determined by microarray analysis and quantitative PCR. Deletion of Keap1 in airway epithelium decreased Keap1 protein levels and significantly increased the total level of glutathione in the lungs. Increased Nrf2 activation protected Clara cells against oxidative stress ex vivo and attenuated oxidative stress and CS-induced inflammation in vivo. Expression of KEAP1 was also decreased in human epithelial cells through siRNA transfection, which increased the expression of Nrf2-dependent genes and attenuated oxidative stress. In conclusion, activating Nrf2 pathways in tissue-specific Keap1 knockout mice represents an important genetic approach against oxidant-induced lung damage.
cigarette smoke; Nrf2; Keap1; inflammation; oxidative stress
Lung tissue from COPD patients displays oxidative DNA damage. The present study determined whether oxidative DNA damage was randomly distributed or whether it was localized in specific sequences in either the nuclear or mitochondrial genomes. The DNA damage-specific histone, gamma-H2AX, was detected immunohistochemically in alveolar wall cells in lung tissue from COPD patients but not control subjects. A PCR-based method was used to search for oxidized purine base products in selected 200 bp sequences in promoters and coding regions of the VEGF, TGF-β1, HO-1, Egr1, and β-actin genes while quantitative Southern blot analysis was used to detect oxidative damage to the mitochondrial genome in lung tissue from control subjects and COPD patients. Among the nuclear genes examined, oxidative damage was detected in only 1 sequence in lung tissue from COPD patients: the hypoxic response element (HRE) of the VEGF promoter. The content of VEGF mRNA also was reduced in COPD lung tissue. Mitochondrial DNA content was unaltered in COPD lung tissue, but there was a substantial increase in mitochondrial DNA strand breaks and/or abasic sites. These findings show that oxidative DNA damage in COPD lungs is prominent in the HRE of the VEGF promoter and in the mitochondrial genome and raise the intriguing possibility that genome and sequence-specific oxidative DNA damage could contribute to transcriptional dysregulation and cell fate decisions in COPD.
DNA damage; VEGF hypoxic response element; mtDNA; COPD
Rationale: The critical innate immune mechanisms that regulate granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis are unknown. Because the granuloma-inducing component of sarcoidosis tissues has physicochemical properties similar to those of amyloid fibrils, we hypothesized that host proteins capable of forming poorly soluble aggregates or amyloid regulate inflammation in sarcoidosis.
Objectives: To determine the role of the amyloid precursor protein, serum amyloid A, as an innate regulator of granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis.
Methods: Serum amyloid A expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in sarcoidosis and control tissues and by ELISA. The effect of serum amyloid A on nuclear factor (NF)-κB induction, cytokine expression, and Toll-like receptor-2 stimulation was determined with transformed human cell lines and bronchoalveolar lavage cells from patients with sarcoidosis. The effects of serum amyloid A on regulating helper T cell type 1 (Th1) granulomatous inflammation were determined in experimental models of sarcoidosis, using Mycobacterium tuberculosis catalase–peroxidase.
Measurements and Main Results: We found that the intensity of expression and distribution of serum amyloid A within sarcoidosis granulomas was unlike that in many other granulomatous diseases. Serum amyloid A localized to macrophages and giant cells within sarcoidosis granulomas but correlated with CD3+ lymphocytes, linking expression to local Th1 responses. Serum amyloid A activated NF-κB in Toll-like receptor-2–expressing human cell lines; regulated experimental Th1-mediated granulomatous inflammation through IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor, IL-10, and Toll-like receptor-2; and stimulated production of tumor necrosis factor, IL-10, and IL-18 in lung cells from patients with sarcoidosis, effects inhibited by blocking Toll-like receptor-2.
Conclusions: Serum amyloid A is a constituent and innate regulator of granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis through Toll-like receptor-2, providing a mechanism for chronic disease and new therapeutic targets.
sarcoidosis; serum amyloid A; innate immunity; granuloma; cytokines
Pulmonary arterial hypertension remains a vexing clinical disease with no cure. Despite advances and the discovery of a gene (BMPR2) associated with many of the hereditary forms of the disease, and some cases not previously known to be inherited, the reasons for mutations in this gene as a cause remain somewhat elusive. Clearly, a complex interplay exists between genetic alterations, environmental exposures (including infections) and disease development. This article addresses the advances in the genetics of PAH, including the identification of genetic etiologies and modulators, and the role of genetics in predicting disease progression and targeting therapeutics.
Pulmonary Hypertension; Genetics; Genomics; Gene expression; Microarray
Scleroderma is a systemic, mixed connective tissue disease that can impact the lungs through pulmonary fibrosis, vascular remodeling, and the development of pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure. Currently, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that drive this condition, but we have recently identified a novel gene product that is up-regulated in a murine model of hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension. This molecule, known as hypoxia-induced mitogenic factor (HIMF), is a member of the newly described resistin gene family. We have demonstrated that HIMF has mitogenic, angiogenic, vasoconstrictive, inflammatory, and chemokine-like properties, all of which are associated with vascular remodeling in the lung. Here, we demonstrate that the human homolog of HIMF, resistin-like molecule (RELM)-β, is expressed in the lung tissue of patients with scleroderma-associated pulmonary hypertension and is up-regulated compared with normal control subjects. Immunofluorescence colocalization revealed that RELM-β is expressed in the endothelium and vascular smooth muscle of remodeled vessels, as well as in plexiform lesions, macrophages, T cells, and myofibroblast-like cells. We also show that addition of recombinant RELM-β induces proliferation and activation of ERK1/2 in primary cultured human pulmonary endothelial and smooth muscle cells. These results suggest that RELM-β may be involved in the development of scleroderma-associated pulmonary hypertension.
pulmonary hypertension; scleroderma; resistin-like molecule β; hypoxia-induced mitogenic factor; T helper type 2
Rationale: Cigarette smoke (CS) exposure is an important risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; however, not all smokers develop disease, suggesting that other factors influence disease development.
Objectives: We sought to determine whether neuropilin-1 (Nrp1), an integral component of receptor complexes mediating alveolar septation and vascular development, was involved in maintenance of normal alveolar structure, and/or altered susceptibility to the effects of CS.
Methods: Transgenic mice were generated to achieve inducible lung-specific deletion of epithelial Nrp1. We determined whether conditional Nrp1 deletion altered airspace size, then compared the effects of chronic CS or filtered air exposure on airspace size, inflammation, and the balance between cell death and proliferation in conditionally Nrp1–deficient adult mice and littermate controls. Finally, we evaluated the effects of Nrp1 silencing on cell death after acute exposure of A549 cells to cigarette smoke extract or short chain ceramides.
Measurements and Main Results: Genetic deletion of epithelial Nrp1 in either postnatal or adult lungs resulted in a small increase in airspace size. More notably, both airspace enlargement and apoptosis of type I and type II alveolar epithelial cells were significantly enhanced following chronic CS exposure in conditionally Nrp1-deficient adult mice. Silencing of Nrp1 in A549 cells did not alter cell survival after vehicle treatment but significantly augmented apoptosis after exposure to cigarette smoke extract or ceramide.
Conclusions: These data support a role for epithelial Nrp1 in the maintenance of normal alveolar structure and suggest that dysregulation of Nrp1 expression may promote epithelial cell death in response to CS exposure, thereby enhancing emphysema development.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetically modified mice; apoptosis
Phage display of random peptide libraries is a powerful, unbiased method frequently used to discover ligands for virtually any protein of interest and to reveal functional protein–protein interaction partners. Moreover, in vivo phage display permits selection of peptides that bind specifically to different vascular beds without any previous knowledge pertaining to the nature of their corresponding receptors. Vascular targeting exploits molecular differences inherent in blood vessels within given organs and tissues, as well as diversity between normal and angiogenic blood vessels. Over the years, our group has identified phage capable of homing to lung blood vessels based on screenings using immortalized lung endothelial cells combined with in vivo selections after intravenous administration of combinatorial libraries. Peptides targeting lung vasculature have been extensively characterized and a lead homing peptide has shown interesting biological properties, bringing novel insights as to the implications of lung endothelial cell apoptosis in the pathogenesis of emphysema. We have also designed and developed targeted nanoparticles with imaging capabilities and/or drug delivery functions by combining phage display technology and elemental gold (Au) nanoparticles, constituting a promising platform for the development of therapeutic agents for imaging and treatment of lung disorders. Given the important role of the endothelium in the pathogenesis and progression of several diseases associated with the airways, ligand-directed discovery of lung vascular markers is an important milestone toward the development of future targeted therapies.
vascular targeting; lung; phage display