Pulmonary fibrosis is a difficult to treat, often fatal disease whose pathogenesis involves dysregulated TGF-β1 signaling. CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Regulatory T cells (“Tregs”) exert important effects on host tolerance and arise from naïve CD4+ lymphocytes in response to TGF-β1. However, the precise contribution of Tregs to experimentally induced murine lung fibrosis remains unclear. We sought to better understand the role of Tregs in this context. Using a model of fibrosis caused by lung specific, doxycycline inducible overexpression of the bioactive form of the human TGF-β1 gene we find that Tregs accumulate in the lung parenchyma within 5 days of transgene activation and that this enhancement persists to at least 14 days. Anti-CD25 Antibody mediated depletion of Tregs causes increased accumulation of soluble collagen and of intrapulmonary CD45+Col Iα1 fibrocytes. These effects are accompanied by enhanced local concentrations of the classical inflammatory mediators CD40L, TNF-α, and IL-1α, along with the neuroimmune molecule fibroblast growth factor 9 (FGF-9, also known as “glial activating factor”). FGF-9 expression localizes to parenchymal cells and alveolar macrophages in this model and antibody mediated neutralization of FGF-9 results in attenuated detection of intrapulmonary collagen and fibrocytes without affecting Treg quantities. These data indicate that CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Tregs attenuate TGF-β1 induced lung fibrosis and fibrocyte accumulation in part via suppression of FGF-9.
regulatory T cells; Fibrosis; TGF-β1; FGF-9; fibrocytes
Secondary bacterial pneumonia leads to increased morbidity and mortality from influenza virus infections. What causes this increased susceptibility, however, is not well defined. Host defense from infection relies not only on immune resistance mechanisms, but also on the ability to tolerate a given level of pathogen load. Failure of either resistance or tolerance can contribute to disease severity, making it hard to distinguish their relative contribution. We employ a coinfection mouse model of influenza and Legionella pneumophila where we can separate resistance and tolerance. We demonstrate that influenza virus can promote susceptibility to lethal bacterial coinfection even when bacterial infection is controlled by the immune system. We propose that this failure of host defense is due to impaired ability to tolerate tissue damage.
Rationale: Lymphocytes are increasingly associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Semaphorin 7a (Sema 7a) participates in lymphocyte activation.
Objectives: To define the relationship between Sema 7a and lymphocytes in IPF.
Methods: We characterized the significance of Sema 7a+ lymphocytes in humans with IPF and in a mouse model of lung fibrosis caused by lung-targeted, transgenic overexpression of TGF-β1. We determined the site of Sema 7a expression in human and murine lungs and circulation and used adoptive transfer approaches to define the relevance of lymphocytes coexpressing Sema7a and the markers CD19, CD4, or CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ in TGF-β1–induced murine lung fibrosis.
Measurements and Main Results: Subjects with IPF show expression of Sema 7a on lung CD4+ cells and circulating CD4+ or CD19+ cells. Sema 7a expression is increased on CD4+ cells and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells, but not CD19+ cells, in subjects with progressive IPF. Sema 7a is expressed on lymphocytes expressing CD4 but not CD19 in the lungs and spleen of TGF-β1–transgenic mice. Sema 7a expressing bone marrow–derived cells induce lung fibrosis and alter the production of T-cell mediators, including IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-17A, and IL-10. These effects require CD4 but not CD19. In comparison to Sema 7a-CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ cells, Sema7a+CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ cells exhibit reduced expression of regulatory genes such as IL-10, and adoptive transfer of these cells induces fibrosis and remodeling in the TGF-β1–exposed murine lung.
Conclusions: Sema 7a+CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells are associated with disease progression in subjects with IPF and induce fibrosis in the TGF-β1–exposed murine lung.
Semaphorin; lung; fibrosis; TGF-β1; regulatory T cells
Genetic factors that regulate the pathogenesis of pneumonia caused by the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans are poorly understood. Through a phenotypic strain survey we observed that inbred C3H/HeN mice develop a significantly greater lung fungal burden than mice of the resistant CBA/J strain 4 weeks following intratracheal infection with C. neoformans ATCC 24067. The aim of the present study was to characterize the inflammatory response of C3H/HeN mice following C. neoformans pulmonary infection and to identify genetic loci that regulate host defense. Following cryptococcal infection, C3H/HeN mice demonstrated a Th2 immune response with heightened airway and tissue eosinophilia, goblet cell metaplasia, and significantly higher lung interleukin-5 (IL-5) and IL-13 protein expression relative to CBA/J mice. Conversely, CBA/J mice exhibited greater airway and tissue neutrophilia that was associated with significantly higher pulmonary expression of gamma interferon, CXCL10, and IL-17 proteins than C3H/HeN mice. Using the fungal burden at 4 weeks postinfection as a phenotype, genome-wide quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis among 435 segregating (C3H/HeN × CBA/J)F2 (C3HCBAF2) hybrids identified two significant QTLs on chromosomes 1 (Cnes4) and 9 (Cnes5) that control susceptibility to cryptococcal pneumonia in an additive manner. Susceptible C3H/HeN mice carry a resistance allele at Cnes4 and a susceptibility allele at Cnes5. These studies reveal additional genetic complexity of the host response to C. neoformans that is associated with divergent patterns of pulmonary inflammation.
Semaphorin (Sema) 7a regulates TGF- β1 induced fibrosis. Using a murine model of pulmonary fibrosis in which an inducible, bioactive form of the human TGF- β1 gene is overexpressed in the lung, we tested the hypothesis that Sema-7a exerts its pro-fibrotic effects in part by promoting the tissue accumulation of CD45+ fibrocytes.
Fibrosis and fibrocytes were evaluated in TGF- β1 transgenic mice in which the Sema-7a locus had been disrupted. The effect of replacement or deletion of Sema-7a on bone marrow derived cells was ascertained using bone marrow transplantation. The role of the Sema-7a receptor β1 integrin was assessed using neutralizing antibodies. The applicability of these findings to TGF-β1-driven fibrosis in humans was examined in patients with scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease.
The appearance of fibrocytes in the lungs in TGF- β1 transgenic mice requires Sema-7a. Replacement of Sema-7a in bone marrow derived cells restores lung fibrosis and fibrocytes. Immunoneutralization of β1 integrin reduces pulmonary fibrocytes and fibrosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease show increased mRNA for Sema-7a and the β1 integrin, with Sema-7a located on collagen producing fibrocytes and CD19+ lymphocytes. Peripheral blood fibrocyte outgrowth is enhanced in these patients. Stimulation of normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells with recombinant Sema-7a enhances fibrocyte differentiation; these effects are attenuated by β1 integrin neutralization.
Interventions that reduce Sema-7a expression or prevent the Sema-7a - β1 integrin interaction may be ameliorative in TGF- β1-driven or fibrocyte-associated autoimmune fibroses.
Supplemental oxygen is frequently prescribed. However, prolonged exposure to high concentrations of oxygen causes hyperoxic acute lung injury (HALI), which manifests as acute respiratory distress syndrome in adults and leads to bronchopulmonary dysplasia in newborns (NBs). Nitric oxide (NO), NO synthases (NOSs), and angiopoietin (Ang) 2 have been implicated in the pathogenesis of HALI. However, the mechanisms of the contributions of NOS/NO and the relationship(s) between NOS/NO and Ang2 have not been addressed. In addition, the relevance of these moieties in adults and NBs has not been evaluated. To address these issues, we compared the responses in hyperoxia of wild-type (NOS [+/+]) and NOS null (−/−) young adult and NB mice. When compared with NOS2+/+ adult controls, NOS2−/− animals manifest exaggerated alveolar–capillary protein leak and premature death. These responses were associated with enhanced levels of structural cell death, enhanced expression of proapoptotic regulatory proteins, and Ang2. Importantly, silencing RNA knockdown of Ang2 decreased the levels of cell death and the expression of proapoptotic mediators. These effects were at least partially NOS2 specific, and were development dependent, because survival was similar in adult NOS3+/+ and NOS3−/− mice and NB NOS2+/+ and NOS2−/− mice, respectively. These studies demonstrate that NOS2 plays an important protective role in HALI in adult animals. They also demonstrate that this response is mediated, at least in part, by the ability of NOS2 to inhibit hyperoxia-induced Ang2 production and thereby decrease Ang2-induced tissue injury.
cytokines; hyperoxia; lung
Inhibiting allergic airway inflammation is the goal of therapy in persistent asthma. Administration of medication via the airways delivers drug directly to the site of inflammation and avoids systemic side effects, but often fails to modulate systemic features of asthma. We have shown that Th1 cells, through production of IFN-γ, inhibit many Th2-induced effector functions that promote disease. Using a newly generated mouse that expresses IFN-γR only on airway epithelial cells, we show that the airway epithelium controls a range of pathological responses in asthma. IFN-γ acting only through the airway epithelium inhibits mucus, chitinases and eosinophilia, independent of Th2 cell activation. IFN-γ signaling through the airway epithelium inhibits eosinophil generation in the bone marrow, indicating that signals on the airway mucosal surface can regulate distant functions to inhibit disease. IFN-γ actions through the airway epithelium will limit airway obstruction and inflammation and may be therapeutic in refractory asthma.
Exaggerated levels of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) are present in persons with asthma, but the role(s) of VEGF in normal and asthmatic lungs has not been defined. We generated lung-targeted VEGF165 transgenic mice and evaluated the role of VEGF in T-helper type 2 cell (TH2)-mediated inflammation. In these mice, VEGF induced, through IL-13–dependent and –independent pathways, an asthma-like phenotype with inflammation, parenchymal and vascular remodeling, edema, mucus metaplasia, myocyte hyperplasia and airway hyper-responsiveness. VEGF also enhanced respiratory antigen sensitization and TH2 inflammation and increased the number of activated DC2 dendritic cells. In antigen-induced inflammation, VEGF was produced by epithelial cells and preferentially by TH2 versus TH1 cells. In this setting, it had a critical role in TH2 inflammation, cytokine production and physiologic dysregulation. Thus, VEGF is a mediator of vascular and extravascular remodeling and inflammation that enhances antigen sensitization and is crucial in adaptive TH2 inflammation. VEGF regulation may be therapeutic in asthma and other TH2 disorders.
The exaggerated expression of chitinase-like protein YKL-40, the human homologue of breast regression protein–39 (BRP-39), was reported in a number of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the in vivo roles of YKL-40 in normal physiology or in the pathogenesis of specific diseases such as COPD remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that BRP-39/YKL-40 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)–induced emphysema. To test this hypothesis, 10-week-old wild-type and BRP-39 null mutant mice (BRP-39−/−) were exposed to room air (RA) and CS for up to 10 months. The expression of BRP-39 was significantly induced in macrophages, airway epithelial cells, and alveolar Type II cells in the lungs of CS-exposed mice compared with RA-exposed mice, at least in part via an IL-18 signaling–dependent pathway. The null mutation of BRP-39 significantly reduced CS-induced bronchoalveolar lavage and tissue inflammation. However, CS-induced epithelial cell apoptosis and alveolar destruction were further enhanced in the absence of BRP-39. Consistent with these findings in mice, the tissue expression of YKL-40 was significantly increased in the lungs of current smokers compared with the lungs of ex-smokers or nonsmokers. In addition, serum concentrations of YKL-40 were significantly higher in smokers with COPD than in nonsmokers or smokers without COPD. These studies demonstrate a novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in CS-induced inflammation and emphysematous destruction. These studies also underscore that maintaining physiologic concentrations of YKL-40 in the lung is therapeutically important in preventing excessive inflammatory responses or emphysematous alveolar destruction.
YKL-40/BRP-39; COPD; emphysema; cigarette smoke
Rationale: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates vascular, inflammatory, remodeling, and cell death responses. It plays a critical role in normal pulmonary physiology, and VEGF excess and deficiency have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respectively. Although viruses are an important cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations and innate responses play an important role in these exacerbations, the effects of antiviral responses on VEGF homeostasis have not been evaluated.
Objectives: We hypothesized that antiviral innate immunity regulates VEGF tissue responses.
Methods: We compared the effects of transgenic VEGF165 in mice treated with viral pathogen–associated molecular pattern polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], mice treated with live virus, and control mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Transgenic VEGF stimulated angiogenesis, edema, inflammation, and mucin accumulation. Each of these was abrogated by poly(I:C). These inhibitory effects were dose dependent, noted when poly(I:C) was administered before and after transgene activation, and mediated by a Toll-like receptor-3–independent and RIG-like helicase (RLH)– and type I IFN receptor–dependent pathway. VEGF stimulated the expression of VEGF receptor-1 and poly(I:C) inhibited this stimulation. Poly(I:C) also inhibited the ability of VEGF to activate extracellular signal–regulated kinase-1, Akt, focal adhesion kinase, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase, and aeroallergen-induced adaptive helper T-cell type 2 inflammation. Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus also inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenesis.
Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that poly(I:C) and respiratory viruses inhibit VEGF-induced tissue responses and adaptive helper T-cell type 2 inflammation and highlight the importance of a RLH- and type I IFN receptor–dependent pathway(s) in these regulatory events. They define a novel link between VEGF and antiviral and RLH innate immune responses and a novel pathway that regulates pulmonary VEGF activity.
RIG-like helicase; mitochondrial antiviral signaling molecule; influenza virus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
We noted a marked increase in IFNγ mRNA in newborn (NB) murine lungs after exposure to hyperoxia. We sought to evaluate the role of IFNγ in lung injury in newborns. Using a unique triple-transgenic (TTG), IFNγ-overexpressing, lung-targeted, externally regulatable NB murine model, we describe a lung phenotype of impaired alveolarization, resembling human bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). IFNγ-mediated abnormal lung architecture was associated with increased cell death and the upregulation of cell death pathway mediators caspases 3, 6, 8, and 9, and angiopoietin 2. Moreover, an increase was evident in cathepsins B, H, K, L, and S, and in matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 2, 9, 12, and 14. The IFNγ-mediated abnormal lung architecture was found to be MMP9-dependent, as indicated by the rescue of the IFNγ-induced pulmonary phenotype and survival during hyperoxia with a concomitant partial deficiency of MMP9. This result was concomitant with a decrease in caspases 3, 6, 8, and 9 and angiopoietin 2, but an increase in the expression of angiopoietin 1. In addition, NB IFNγ TTG mice exhibited significantly decreased survival during hyperoxia, compared with littermate controls. Furthermore, as evidence of clinical relevance, we show increased concentrations of the downstream targets of IFNγ chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligands (CXCL10 and CXCL11) in baboon and human lungs with BPD. IFNγ and its downstream targets may contribute significantly to the final common pathway of hyperoxia-induced injury in the developing lung and in human BPD.
newborn; hyperoxia; BPD; IFNγ; MMP9
The opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes rapidly progressive and tissue destructive infections, such as hospital acquired and ventilator associated pneumonias. Innate immune responses are critical in controlling P. aeruginosa in the mammalian lung, as demonstrated by the increased susceptibility of MyD88−/− mice to this pathogen. Experiments conducted using bone-marrow chimeric mice demonstrated that radio-resistant cells participated in initiating MyD88-dependent innate immune responses to P. aeruginosa. In this study we used a novel transgenic mouse model to demonstrate that MyD88 expression by epithelial cells is sufficient to generate a rapid and protective innate immune response following intranasal infection with P. aeruginosa. MyD88 functions as an adaptor for many Toll-like receptors (TLRs). However, mice in which multiple TLR pathways (e.g. TLR2/TLR4/TLR5) are blocked are not as compromised in their response to P. aeruginosa as mice lacking MyD88. We demonstrate that IL-1R signaling is an essential element of MyD88-dependent epithelial cell responses to P. aeruginosa infection.
The reticulon protein Nogo-B is highly expressed in the lungs, and its loss augments lung inflammation in part as a result of decreased expression of the antiinflammatory protein PLUNC.
Nogo-B is a member of the reticulon family of proteins (RTN-4B) that is highly expressed in lung tissue; however, its function remains unknown. We show that mice with Th2-driven lung inflammation results in a loss of Nogo expression in airway epithelium and smooth muscle compared with nonallergic mice, a finding which is replicated in severe human asthma. Mice lacking Nogo-A/B (Nogo-KO) display an exaggerated asthma-like phenotype, and epithelial reconstitution of Nogo-B in transgenic mice blunts Th2-mediated lung inflammation. Microarray analysis of lungs from Nogo-KO mice reveals a marked reduction in palate lung and nasal clone (PLUNC) gene expression, and the levels of PLUNC are enhanced in epithelial Nogo-B transgenic mice. Finally, transgenic expression of PLUNC into Nogo-KO mice rescues the enhanced asthmatic-like responsiveness in these KO mice. These data identify Nogo-B as a novel protective gene expressed in lung epithelia, and its expression regulates the levels of the antibacterial antiinflammatory protein PLUNC.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently emerged as an important new class of cellular regulators that control various cellular processes and are implicated in human diseases, including cancer. Here, we show that loss of let-7 function enhances lung tumor formation in vivo, strongly supporting the hypothesis that let-7 is a tumor suppressor. Moreover, we report that exogenous delivery of let-7 to established tumors in mouse models of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) significantly reduces tumor burden. These results demonstrate the therapeutic potential of let-7 in NSCLC and point to miRNA replacement therapy as a promising approach in cancer treatment.
Let-7; microRNAs; lung cancer; K-ras
Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive, dysregulated response to injury culminating in compromised lung function due to excess extracellular matrix production. The heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-4 is important in mediating fibroblast-matrix interactions, but its role in pulmonary fibrosis has not been explored. To investigate this issue, we used intratracheal instillation of bleomycin as a model of acute lung injury and fibrosis. We found that bleomycin treatment increased syndecan-4 expression. Moreover, we observed a marked decrease in neutrophil recruitment and an increase in both myofibroblast recruitment and interstitial fibrosis in bleomycin-treated syndecan-4–null (Sdc4–/–) mice. Subsequently, we identified a direct interaction between CXCL10, an antifibrotic chemokine, and syndecan-4 that inhibited primary lung fibroblast migration during fibrosis; mutation of the heparin-binding domain, but not the CXCR3 domain, of CXCL10 diminished this effect. Similarly, migration of fibroblasts from patients with pulmonary fibrosis was inhibited in the presence of CXCL10 protein defective in CXCR3 binding. Furthermore, administration of recombinant CXCL10 protein inhibited fibrosis in WT mice, but not in Sdc4–/– mice. Collectively, these data suggest that the direct interaction of syndecan-4 and CXCL10 in the lung interstitial compartment serves to inhibit fibroblast recruitment and subsequent fibrosis. Thus, administration of CXCL10 protein defective in CXCR3 binding may represent a novel therapy for pulmonary fibrosis.
Bcl-2 promotes cell survival by inhibiting adapters needed for the activation and cleavage of caspases thus blocking the proteolytic cascade that ultimately dismantles the cell. Bcl-2 has been investigated as a prognostic factor in non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with conflicting results.
Here, we quantitatively assessed Bcl-2 expression in two large and independent cohorts to investigate the impact of Bcl-2 on survival. AQUA®, a fluorescent-based method for analysis of in situ protein expression, was used to measure Bcl-2 protein levels and classify tumors by Bcl-2 expression in a cohort of 180 NSCLC patients. An independent cohort of 354 NSCLC patients was used to validate Bcl-2 classification and evaluate outcome.
Fifty % and 52% of the cases were classified as high expressers in training and validation cohorts respectively. Squamous cell carcinomas were more likely to be high expressers compared to adenocarcinomas (63% vs. 45%, p = 0.002); Bcl-2 was not associated with other clinical or pathological characteristics. Survival analysis showed that patients with high BCL-2 expression had a longer median survival compared to low expressers (22 vs. 17.5 months, log rank p = 0.014) especially in the subset of non-squamous tumors (25 vs. 13.8 months, log rank p = 0.04). Multivariate analysis revealed an independent lower risk for all patients with Bcl-2 expressing tumors (HR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.37-0.75, p = 0.0003) and for patients with non-squamous tumors (HR = 0.5, 95% CI 0.31-0.81, p = 0.005).
Bcl-2 expression defines a subgroup of patients with a favorable outcome and may be useful for prognostic stratification of NSCLC patients.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Type 2 T helper (Th) cell–dominated inflammation in the lung is a hallmark of asthma. Src homology 2 domain–containing protein tyrosine phosphatase (SHP)-1 is a negative regulator in the signaling pathways of many growth factor and cytokine receptors. However, a direct role of SHP-1 in the IL-4/IL-13 signaling pathway has not been established. In this study, we sought to define the function of SHP-1 in the lung by characterizing the pulmonary inflammation of viable motheaten (mev) mice, and to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved. Pulmonary histology, physiology, and cytokine expression of mev mice were analyzed to define the nature of the inflammation, and the gene-deletion approach was used to identify critical molecules involved. In mev mice, we observed spontaneous Th2-like inflammatory responses in the lung, including eosinophilia, mucus metaplasia, airway epithelial hypertrophy, pulmonary fibrosis, and increased airway resistance and airway hyperresponsiveness. The pulmonary phenotype was accompanied by up-regulation of Th2 cytokines and chemokines. Selective deletion of IL-13 or signal transducer and activator of transcription 6, key genes in the Th2 signaling pathway, significantly reduced, but did not completely eliminate, the inflammation in the lung. These findings suggest that SHP-1 plays a critical role in regulating the IL-4/IL-13 signaling pathway and in maintaining lung homeostasis.
Src homology 2 domain–containing protein tyrosine phosphatase-1; protein tyrosine phosphatase; motheaten mouse; type 2 T helper cell inflammation; lung
IL-11 and IL-11 receptor (R)α are induced by Th2 cytokines. However, the role(s) of endogenous IL-11 in antigen-induced Th2 inflammation has not been fully defined. We hypothesized that IL-11, signaling via IL-11Rα, plays an important role in aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation and mucus metaplasia. To test this hypothesis, we compared the responses induced by the aeroallergen ovalbumin (OVA) in wild-type (WT) and IL-11Rα–null mutant mice. We also generated and defined the effects of an antagonistic IL-11 mutein on pulmonary Th2 responses. Increased levels of IgE, eosinophilic tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) inflammation, IL-13 production, and increased mucus production and secretion were noted in OVA-sensitized and -challenged WT mice. These responses were at least partially IL-11 dependent because each was decreased in mice with null mutations of IL-11Rα. Importantly, the administration of the IL-11 mutein to OVA-sensitized mice before aerosol antigen challenge also caused a significant decrease in OVA-induced inflammation, mucus responses, and IL-13 production. Intraperitoneal administration of the mutein to lung-specific IL-13–overexpressing transgenic mice also reduced BAL inflammation and airway mucus elaboration. These studies demonstrate that endogenous IL-11R signaling plays an important role in antigen-induced sensitization, eosinophilic inflammation, and airway mucus production. They also demonstrate that Th2 and IL-13 responses can be regulated by interventions that manipulate IL-11 signaling in the murine lung.
IL-11; mutein; airway inflammation; mucus; IL-13
Mouse breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39; Chi3l1) and its human homologue YKL-40 are chitinase-like proteins that lack chitinase activity. Although YKL-40 is expressed in exaggerated quantities and correlates with disease activity in asthma and many other disorders, the biological properties of BRP-39/YKL-40 have only been rudimentarily defined. We describe the generation and characterization of BRP-39−/− mice, YKL-40 transgenic mice, and mice that lack BRP-39 and produce YKL-40 only in their pulmonary epithelium. Studies of these mice demonstrated that BRP-39−/− animals have markedly diminished antigen-induced Th2 responses and that epithelial YKL-40 rescues the Th2 responses in these animals. The ability of interleukin13 to induce tissue inflammation and fibrosis was also markedly diminished in the absence of BRP-39. Mechanistic investigations demonstrated that BRP-39 and YKL-40 play an essential role in antigen sensitization and immunoglobulin E induction, stimulate dendritic cell accumulation and activation, and induce alternative macrophage activation. These proteins also inhibit inflammatory cell apoptosis/cell death while inhibiting Fas expression, activating protein kinase B/AKT, and inducing Faim 3. These studies establish novel regulatory roles for BRP-39/YKL-40 in the initiation and effector phases of Th2 inflammation and remodeling and suggest that these proteins are therapeutic targets in Th2- and macrophage-mediated disorders.
The angiogenic growth factor angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) destabilizes blood vessels, enhances vascular leak and induces vascular regression and endothelial cell apoptosis. We considered that Ang2 might be important in hyperoxic acute lung injury (ALI). Here we have characterized the responses in lungs induced by hyperoxia in wild-type and Ang2–/– mice or those given either recombinant Ang2 or short interfering RNA (siRNA) targeted to Ang2. During hyperoxia Ang2 expression is induced in lung epithelial cells, while hyperoxia-induced oxidant injury, cell death, inflammation, permeability alterations and mortality are ameliorated in Ang2–/– and siRNA-treated mice. Hyperoxia induces and activates the extrinsic and mitochondrial cell death pathways and activates initiator and effector caspases through Ang2-dependent pathways in vivo. Ang2 increases inflammation and cell death during hyperoxia in vivo and stimulates epithelial necrosis in hyperoxia in vitro. Ang2 in plasma and alveolar edema fluid is increased in adults with ALI and pulmonary edema. Tracheal Ang2 is also increased in neonates that develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Ang2 is thus a mediator of epithelial necrosis with an important role in hyperoxic ALI and pulmonary edema.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, yet few genetic markers of lung cancer risk useful for screening exist. The let-7 family-of-microRNAs (miRNAs) are global genetic regulators important in controlling lung cancer oncogene expression by binding to the 3′UTRs (untranslated regions) of their target messenger RNAs (mRNAs). The purpose of this study was to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that could modify let-7 binding and to assess the effect of such SNPs on target gene regulation and risk for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). let-7 complementary sites (LCSs) were sequenced in the KRAS 3′UTR from 74 NSCLC cases to identify mutations and SNPs that correlated with NSCLC. The allele frequency of a previously un-identified SNP at LCS6 was characterized in 2433 people (representing 46 human populations). The frequency of the variant allele is 18.1–20.3% in NSCLC patients and 5.8% in world populations. The association between the SNP and the risk for NSCLC was defined in two independent case-control studies. A case-control study of lung cancer from New Mexico showed a 2.3-fold increased risk (C.I.= 1.1–4.6, p = 0.02) for NSCLC cancer in patients who smoked < 40 pack years. This association was validated in a second independent case-control study. Functionally, the variant allele results in KRAS over-expression in vitro. The LCS6 variant allele in a KRAS miRNA complementary site is significantly associated with increased risk for NSCLC among moderate smokers, and represents a new paradigm for let-7 miRNAs in lung cancer susceptibility.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is known to have a pivotal role in lung development and in a variety of pathologic conditions in the adult lung. Our earlier studies have shown that NO is a critical mediator of VEGF-induced vascular and extravascular effects in the adult murine lung. As significant differences have been reported in the cytokine responses in the adult versus the neonatal lung, we hypothesized that there may be significant differences in VEGF-induced alterations in the developing as opposed to the mature lung. Furthermore, nitric oxide (NO) mediation of these VEGF-induced effects may be developmentally regulated. Using a novel externally regulatable lung-targeted transgenic murine model, we found that VEGF-induced pulmonary hemorrhage was mediated by NO-dependent mechanisms in adults and newborns. VEGF enhanced surfactant production in adults as well as increased surfactant and lung development in newborns, via an NO-independent mechanism. While the enhanced survival in hyperoxia in the adult was partly NO-dependent, there was enhanced hyperoxia-induced lung injury in the newborn. In addition, human amniotic fluid VEGF levels correlated positively with surfactant phospholipids. Tracheal aspirate VEGF levels had an initial spike, followed by a decline, and then a subsequent rise, in human neonates with an outcome of bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death. Our data show that VEGF can have injurious as well as potentially beneficial developmental effects, of which some are NO dependent, others NO independent. This opens up the possibility of selective manipulation of any VEGF-based intervention using NO inhibitors for maximal potential clinical benefit.
vascular endothelial growth factor; nitric oxide; lung; surfactant
Genetically regulated mechanisms of host defense against Cryptococcus neoformans infection are not well understood. In this study, pulmonary infection with the moderately virulent C. neoformans strain 24067 was used to compare the host resistance phenotype of C57BL/6J with that of inbred mouse strain SJL/J. At 7 days or later after infection, C57BL/6J mice exhibited a significantly greater fungal burden in the lungs than SJL/J mice. Characterization of the pulmonary innate immune response at 3 h after cryptococcal infection revealed that resistant SJL/J mice exhibited significantly higher neutrophilia, with elevated levels of inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC)/CXCL1 in the airways, as well as increased whole-lung mRNA expression of chemokines KC/CXCL1, MIP-1α/CCL3, MIP-1β/CCL4, MIP-2/CXCL2, and MCP-1/CCL2 and cytokines interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and IL-1Ra. At 7 and 14 days after infection, SJL/J mice maintained significantly higher levels of TNF-α and KC/CXCL1 in the airways and exhibited a Th1 response characterized by elevated levels of lung gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and IL-12/IL-23p40, while C57BL/6J mice exhibited Th2 immunity as defined by eosinophilia and IL-4 production. Alveolar and resident peritoneal macrophages from SJL/J mice also secreted significantly greater amounts of TNF-α and KC/CXCL1 following in vitro stimulation with C. neoformans. Intracellular signaling analysis demonstrated that TNF-α and KC/CXCL1 production was regulated by NF-κB and phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase in both strains; however, SJL/J macrophages exhibited heightened and prolonged activation in response to C. neoformans infection compared to that of C57BL/6J. Taken together, these data demonstrate that an enhanced innate immune response against pulmonary C. neoformans infection in SJL/J mice is associated with natural resistance to progressive infection.
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
Semaphorin (SEMA) 7A regulates neuronal and immune function. In these studies, we tested the hypothesis that SEMA 7A is also a critical regulator of tissue remodeling. These studies demonstrate that SEMA 7A and its receptors, plexin C1 and β1 integrins, are stimulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in the murine lung. They also demonstrate that SEMA 7A plays a critical role in TGF-β1–induced fibrosis, myofibroblast hyperplasia, alveolar remodeling, and apoptosis. TGF-β1 stimulated SEMA 7A via a largely Smad 3–independent mechanism and stimulated SEMA 7A receptors, matrix proteins, CCN proteins, fibroblast growth factor 2, interleukin 13 receptor components, proteases, antiprotease, and apoptosis regulators via Smad 2/3–independent and SEMA 7A–dependent mechanisms. SEMA 7A also played an important role in the pathogenesis of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. TGF-β1 and bleomycin also activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and protein kinase B (PKB)/AKT via SEMA 7A–dependent mechanisms, and PKB/AKT inhibition diminished TGF-β1–induced fibrosis. These observations demonstrate that SEMA 7A and its receptors are induced by TGF-β1 and that SEMA 7A plays a central role in a PI3K/PKB/AKT-dependent pathway that contributes to TGF-β1–induced fibrosis and remodeling. They also demonstrate that the effects of SEMA 7A are not specific for transgenic TGF-β1, highlighting the importance of these findings for other fibrotic stimuli.