Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with abnormal inflammatory responses and structural alterations of the airways, lung parenchyma and pulmonary vasculature. Since Pentraxin-3 (PTX3) is a tuner of inflammatory responses and is produced by endothelial and inflammatory cells upon stimuli such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β), we hypothesized that PTX3 is involved in COPD pathogenesis.
Methods and Results
We evaluated whether cigarette smoke (CS) triggers pulmonary and systemic PTX3 expression in vivo in a murine model of COPD. Using immunohistochemical (IHC) staining, we observed PTX3 expression in endothelial cells of lung venules and veins but not in lung arteries, airways and parenchyma. Moreover, ELISA on lung homogenates and semi-quantitative scoring of IHC-stained sections revealed a significant upregulation of PTX3 upon subacute and chronic CS exposure. Interestingly, PTX3 expression was not enhanced upon subacute CS exposure in IL-1RI KO mice, suggesting that the IL-1 pathway is implicated in CS-induced expression of vascular PTX3. Serum PTX3 levels increased rapidly but transiently after acute CS exposure.
To elucidate the functional role of PTX3 in CS-induced responses, we examined pulmonary inflammation, protease/antiprotease balance, emphysema and body weight changes in WT and Ptx3 KO mice. CS-induced pulmonary inflammation, peribronchial lymphoid aggregates, increase in MMP-12/TIMP-1 mRNA ratio, emphysema and failure to gain weight were not significantly different in Ptx3 KO mice compared to WT mice. In addition, Ptx3 deficiency did not affect the CS-induced alterations in the pulmonary (mRNA and protein) expression of VEGF-A and FGF-2, which are crucial regulators of angiogenesis.
CS increases pulmonary PTX3 expression in an IL-1 dependent manner. However, our results suggest that either PTX3 is not critical in CS-induced pulmonary inflammation, emphysema and body weight changes, or that its role can be fulfilled by other mediators with overlapping activities.