Airway mucus presents a first line of defense against inhaled materials. It also, however, is a significant pathological contributor to chronic lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thus, gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of mucus production and secretion is an important goal for improving respiratory health. Mucins, the chief glycoprotein components of airway mucus, are very large polymeric glycoproteins, and measuring their production and secretion in experimental animals present significant technical challenges. Over the past several years, we have developed assays for accurately quantifying mucin production and secretion using histological and biochemical assays. These methods are described here.
airways; asthma; cystic fibrosis; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; goblet cell; lungs; mouse; mucin; mucous; mucus
Asthma is etiologically and clinically heterogeneous, making the genomic basis of asthma difficult to identify. We exploited the strain-dependence of a murine model of allergic airway disease to identify different genomic responses in the lung. BALB/cJ and C57BL/6J mice were sensitized with the immunodominant allergen from the Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus species of house dust mite (Der p 1), without exogenous adjuvant, and the mice then underwent a single challenge with Der p 1. Allergic inflammation, serum antibody titers, mucous metaplasia, and airway hyperresponsiveness were evaluated 72 hours after airway challenge. Whole-lung gene expression analyses were conducted to identify genomic responses to allergen challenge. Der p 1–challenged BALB/cJ mice produced all the key features of allergic airway disease. In comparison, C57BL/6J mice produced exaggerated Th2-biased responses and inflammation, but exhibited an unexpected decrease in airway hyperresponsiveness compared with control mice. Lung gene expression analysis revealed genes that were shared by both strains and a set of down-regulated genes unique to C57BL/6J mice, including several G-protein–coupled receptors involved in airway smooth muscle contraction, most notably the M2 muscarinic receptor, which we show is expressed in airway smooth muscle and was decreased at the protein level after challenge with Der p 1. Murine strain–dependent genomic responses in the lung offer insights into the different biological pathways that develop after allergen challenge. This study of two different murine strains demonstrates that inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness can be decoupled, and suggests that the down-modulation of expression of G-protein–coupled receptors involved in regulating airway smooth muscle contraction may contribute to this dissociation.
asthma; airway hyperresponsiveness; inflammation; house dust mite; Der p 1
Airway mucin secretion and MC (mast cell) degranulation must be tightly controlled for homoeostasis of the lungs and immune system respectively. We found the exocytic protein Munc18b to be highly expressed in mouse airway epithelial cells and MCs, and localized to the apical pole of airway secretory cells. To address its functions, we created a mouse with a severely hypomorphic Munc18b allele such that protein expression in heterozygotes was reduced by ~50%. Homozygous mutant mice were not viable, but heterozygotes showed a ~50% reduction in stimulated release of mucin from epithelial cells and granule contents from MCs. The defect in MCs affected only regulated secretion and not constitutive or transporter-mediated secretion. The severity of passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was also reduced by ~50%, showing that reduction of Munc18b expression results in an attenuation of physiological responses dependent on MC degranulation. The Munc18b promoter is controlled by INR (initiator), Sp1 (specificity protein 1), Ets, CRE (cAMP-response element), GRE (glucocorticoid-response element), GATA and E-box elements in airway epithelial cells; however, protein levels did not change during mucous metaplasia induced by allergic inflammation. Taken together, the results of the present study identify Munc18b as an essential gene that is a limiting component of the exocytic machinery of epithelial cells and MCs.
exocytosis; mast cell; mucin; mucus; Munc18; secretion; AB-PAS, Alcian Blue/periodic acid/Schiff reagent; bHLH, basic helix–loop–helix; CCSP, Clara cell secretory protein; Clca3, chloride channel, calcium-activated, family member 3; CRE, cAMP-response element; DNP, 2,4-dinitrophenol; FBS, fetal bovine serum; FcϵRIα, high-affinity IgE receptor, α subunit; FRT, flippase recognition target; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GRE, glucocorticoid-response element; HA, haemagglutinin; HSA, human serum albumin; HRP, horseradish peroxidase; IL-3, interleukin-3; INR, initiator; ISH, in situ hybridization; MC, mast cell; mBMMC, mouse bone-marrow-derived MC; mClca3, mouse Clca3; MFI, mean fluorescent intensity; mtCC, mouse transformed Clara cell; NK, natural killer; OCT, optimal cutting temperature compound; PAFS, periodic acid/fluorescent Schiff reagent; PBST, PBS containing 0.05% Tween 20; PGD2, prostaglandin D2; PGK, phosphoglucokinase; SCF, stem cell factor; SM, Sec1/Munc18; SNAP, soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor-attachment protein; SNARE, SNAP receptor; Stxbp2, syntaxin-binding protein 2; TK, thymidine kinase; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α; WT, wild-type; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein
Mucus is a protective gel that lines respiratory tract surfaces. To identify potential roles for secreted gel–forming mucins in lung development, we isolated murine lungs on embryonic days (E) 12.5–18.5, and postnatal days (PN) days 5, 14, and 28. We measured the mucin gene expression by quantitative RT-PCR, and localization by histochemical and immunohistochemical labeling. Alcian blue/periodic acid–Schiff–positive cells are present from E15.5 through PN28. Muc5b transcripts were abundant at all time points from E14.5 to PN28. By contrast, transcript levels of Muc5ac and Muc2 were approximately 300 and 85,000 times lower, respectively. These data are supported by immunohistochemical studies demonstrating the production and localization of Muc5ac and Muc5b protein. This study indicates that mucin production is prominent in developing murine lungs and that Muc5b is an early, abundant, and persistent marker of bronchial airway secretory cells, thereby implicating it as an intrinsic component of homeostatic mucosal defense in the lungs.
mouse; lung; mucin; Muc5ac; Muc5b
Several epidemiologic studies have found that smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lung, have an increased risk of lung cancer compared to smokers without COPD. We have shown a causal role for COPD-like airway inflammation in lung cancer promotion in the CCSPCre/LSL–K-rasG12D mouse model (CC-LR). In contrast, existing epidemiologic data do not suggest any definite association between allergic airway inflammation and lung cancer. To test this, CC-LR mice were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) then challenged with an OVA aerosol weekly for eight weeks. This resulted in eosinophilic lung inflammation associated with increased levels of T helper 2 cytokines and mucous metaplasia of airway epithelium, similar to what is seen in asthma patients. However, this type of inflammation did not result in a significant difference in lung surface tumor number (49 ± 9 in OVA vs 52 ± 5 in control), in contrast to a 3.2-fold increase with COPD-like inflammation. Gene expression analysis of NTHi-treated lungs showed up-regulation of a different profile of inflammatory genes, including interleukin 6 (IL-6), compared to OVA-treated lungs. Therefore, to determine the causal role of cytokines that mediate COPD-like inflammation in lung carcinogenesis, we genetically ablated IL-6 in CC-LR mice. This not only inhibited intrinsic lung cancer development (1.7-fold), but also inhibited the promoting effect of extrinsic COPD-like airway inflammation (2.6-fold). We conclude that there is a clear specificity for the nature of inflammation in lung cancer promotion, and IL-6 has an essential role in lung cancer promotion.
lung cancer; inflammation; COPD; asthma; IL-6
The mucin Muc5ac is essential for the expulsion of Trichuris muris and other gut-dwelling nematodes.
De novo expression of Muc5ac, a mucin not normally expressed in the intestinal tract, is induced in the cecum of mice resistant to Trichuris muris infection. In this study, we investigated the role of Muc5ac, which is detected shortly before worm expulsion and is associated with the production of interleukin-13 (IL-13), in resistance to this nematode. Muc5ac-deficient mice were incapable of expelling T. muris from the intestine and harbored long-term chronic infections, despite developing strong TH2 responses. Muc5ac-deficient mice had elevated levels of IL-13 and, surprisingly, an increase in the TH1 cytokine IFN-γ. Because TH1 inflammation is thought to favor chronic nematode infection, IFN-γ was neutralized in vivo, resulting in an even stronger TH2-type immune response. Nevertheless, despite a more robust TH2 effector response, the Muc5ac-deficient mice remained highly susceptible to chronic T. muris infection. Importantly, human MUC5AC had a direct detrimental effect on nematode vitality. Moreover, the absence of Muc5ac caused a significant delay in the expulsion of two other gut-dwelling nematodes (Trichinella spiralis and Nippostrongylus brasiliensis). Thus, for the first time, we identify a single mucin, Muc5ac, as a direct and critical mediator of resistance during intestinal nematode infection.
We have investigated the reaction mechanism responsible for QD nucleation using optical absorption and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies. For typical II-VI and IV-VI quantum dot (QD) syntheses, pure tertiary phosphine selenide sources (e.g. trioctylphosphine selenide (TOPSe)) were surprisingly found to be unreactive with metal carboxylates and incapable of yielding QDs. Rather, small quantities of secondary phosphines, which are impurities in tertiary phosphines, are entirely responsible for the nucleation of QDs; their low concentrations account for poor synthetic conversion yields. QD yields increase to nearly quantitative levels when replacing TOPSe with a stoiciometric amount of a secondary phosphine chalcogenide such as diphenylphosphine selenide. Based on our observations, we have proposed potential monomer identities, reaction pathways and transition states, and believe this mechanism to be universal to all II-VI and IV-VI QDs synthesized using phosphine based methods.
Recent studies have demonstrated that K-ras mutations in lung epithelial cells elicit inflammation that promotes carcinogenesis in mice (intrinsic inflammation). The finding that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lung, have an increased risk of lung cancer after controlling for smoking suggests a further link between lung cancer and extrinsic inflammation. Besides exposure to cigarette smoke, it is thought that airway inflammation in COPD is caused by bacterial colonization, particularly with non-typeable Hemophilus influenzae (NTHi). Previously, we have shown that NTHi-induced COPD-like airway inflammation promotes lung cancer in an airway conditional K-ras-induced mouse model. To further test the role of inflammation in cancer promotion, we administered the natural anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin, 1% in diet before and during weekly NTHi exposure. This significantly reduced the number of visible lung tumors in the absence of NTHi exposure by 85% and in the presence of NTHi exposures by 53%. Mechanistically, curcumin markedly suppressed NTHi-induced increased levels of the neutrophil chemoattractant keratinocyte-derived chemokine by 80% and neutrophils by 87% in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. In vitro studies of murine K-ras-induced lung adenocarcinoma cell lines (LKR-10 and LKR-13) indicated direct anti-tumoral effects of curcumin by reducing cell viability, colony formation and inducing apoptosis. We conclude that curcumin suppresses the progression of K-ras-induced lung cancer in mice by inhibiting intrinsic and extrinsic inflammation and by direct anti-tumoral effects. These findings suggest that curcumin could be used to protract the premalignant phase and inhibit lung cancer progression in high-risk COPD patients.
Purpose of review
Airway mucus plugging has long been recognized as a principal cause of death in asthma. However, molecular mechanisms of mucin overproduction and secretion have not been understood until recently. These mechanisms are reviewed together with ongoing investigations relating them to lung pathophysiology.
Of the five secreted gel-forming mucins in mammals, only MUC5AC and MUC5B are produced in significant quantities in intrapulmonary airways. MUC5B is the principal gel-forming mucin at baseline in small airways of humans and mice, and therefore likely performs most homeostatic clearance functions. MUC5AC is the principal gel-forming mucin upregulated in airway inflammation and is under negative control by forkhead box a2 and positive control by hypoxia inducible factor-1. Mucin secretion is regulated separately from production, principally by extracellular triphosphate nucleotides that bind P2Y2 receptors on the lumenal surface of airway secretory cells, generating intracellular second messengers that activate the exocytic proteins, Munc13-2 and synaptotagmin-2.
Markedly upregulated production of MUC5AC together with stimulated secretion leads to airflow obstruction in asthma. As MUC5B appears to mediate homeostatic functions, it may be possible to selectively inhibit MUC5AC production without impairing airway function. The precise roles of mucin hypersecretion in asthma symptoms such as dyspnea and cough and in physiologic phenomena such as airway hyperresponsiveness remain to be defined.
airway; asthma; mucin; mucous; mucus
Phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted from chromosome 10 (Pten) is expressed aberrantly in non-small cell lung cancer cells, but the role of Pten in lung neoplasia has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we used a genetic approach to inactivate Pten in the bronchial epithelium of mice. Although, by itself, Pten inactivation had no discernible effect on bronchial epithelial histology, it accelerated lung tumorigenesis initiated by oncogenic K-ras, causing more rapid lethality than that induced by oncogenic K-ras alone (8 weeks versus 24 weeks of median duration of survival, respectively). Lung tumors arose in K-ras mutant, Pten-deficient mice that rapidly obstructed bronchial lumina and replaced alveolar spaces. Relative to K-ras mutant tumors, the K-ras mutant, Pten-deficient tumors exhibited more advanced histologic severity and more prominent inflammation and vascularity. Thus, Pten inactivation cooperated with oncogenic K-ras in promoting lung tumorigenesis.
Protective host responses to respiratory pathogens are typically characterized by inflammation. However, lung inflammation is not always protective and it may even become deleterious to the host. We have recently reported substantial protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) pneumonia by induction of a robust inflammatory innate immune response to an inhaled bacterial lysate. Conversely, the allergic inflammation associated with asthma has been proposed to promote susceptibility to pneumococcal disease. This study sought to determine whether preexisting allergic lung inflammation influences the progression of pneumococcal pneumonia or reduces the inducibilty of protective innate immunity against bacteria.
To compare the effect of different inflammatory and secretory stimuli on defense against pneumonia, intraperitoneally ovalbumin-sensitized mice were challenged with inhaled pneumococci following exposure to various inhaled combinations of ovalbumin, ATP, and/or a bacterial lysate. Thus, allergic inflammation, mucin degranulation and/or stimulated innate resistance were induced prior to the infectious challenge. Pathogen killing was evaluated by assessing bacterial CFUs of lung homogenates immediately after infection, the inflammatory response to the different conditions was evaluated by measurement of cell counts of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid 18 hours after challenge, and mouse survival was assessed after seven days.
We found no differences in survival of mice with and without allergic inflammation, nor did the induction of mucin degranulation alter survival. As we have found previously, mice treated with the bacterial lysate demonstrated substantially increased survival at seven days, and this was not altered by the presence of allergic inflammation or mucin degranulation. Allergic inflammation was associated with predominantly eosinophilic infiltration, whereas the lysate-induced response was primarily neutrophilic. The presence of allergic inflammation did not significantly alter the neutrophilic response to the lysate, and did not affect the induced bacterial killing within the lungs.
These results suggest that allergic airway inflammation neither promotes nor inhibits progression of pneumococcal lung infection in mice, nor does it influence the successful induction of stimulated innate resistance to bacteria.
Rationale: The lungs are a common site of serious infection in both healthy and immunocompromised subjects, and the most likely route of delivery of a bioterror agent. Since the airway epithelium shows great structural plasticity in response to inflammatory stimuli, we hypothesized it might also show functional plasticity.
Objectives: To test the inducibility of lung defenses against bacterial challenge.
Methods: Mice were treated with an aerosolized lysate of ultraviolet-killed nontypeable (unencapsulated) Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), then challenged with a lethal dose of live Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) delivered by aerosol.
Measurements and Main Results: Treatment with the NTHi lysate induced complete protection against challenge with a lethal dose of Spn if treatment preceded challenge by 4 to 24 hours. Lesser levels of protection occurred at shorter (83% at 2 h) and longer (83% at 48–72 h) intervals between treatment and challenge. There was also some protection when treatment was given 2 hours after challenge (survival increased from 14 to 57%), but not 24 hours after challenge. Protection did not depend on recruited neutrophils or resident mast cells and alveolar macrophages. Protection was specific to the airway route of infection, correlated in magnitude and time with rapid bacterial killing within the lungs, and was associated with increases of multiple antimicrobial polypeptides in lung lining fluid.
Conclusions: We infer that protection derives from stimulation of local innate immune mechanisms, and that activated lung epithelium is the most likely cellular effector of this response. Augmentation of innate antimicrobial defenses of the lungs might have therapeutic value.
innate immunity; pneumonia; immunocompromised host; lung epithelium
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) commonly colonizes the lower airways of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whether it contributes to COPD progression is unknown. Here, we determined which aspects of the COPD phenotype can be induced by repetitive exposure to NTHi products. Mice were exposed weekly to an aerosolized NTHi lysate, and inflammation was evaluated by measurement of cells and cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and immunohistochemical staining; structural changes were evaluated histochemically by periodic acid fluorescent Schiff's reagent, Masson's trichrome, and Picrosirius red staining; mucin gene expression was measured by quantitative RT-PCR; and the role of TNF-α was examined by transgenic airway overexpression and use of an inhibitory antibody. NTHi lysate induced rapid activation of NF-κB in airway cells and increases of inflammatory cytokines and neutrophils in BALF. Repetitive exposure induced infiltration of macrophages, CD8+ T cells, and B cells around airways and blood vessels, and collagen deposition in airway and alveolar walls, but airway mucin staining and gel-forming mucin transcripts were not increased. Transgenic overexpression of TNF-α caused BALF neutrophilia and inflammatory cell infiltration around airways, but not fibrosis, and TNF-α neutralization did not reduce BALF neutrophilia in response to NTHi lysate. In conclusion, NTHi products elicit airway inflammation in mice with a cellular and cytokine profile similar to that in COPD, and cause airway wall fibrosis but not mucous metaplasia. TNF-α is neither required for inflammatory cell recruitment nor sufficient for airway fibrosis. Colonization by NTHi may contribute to the pathogenesis of small airways disease in patients with COPD.
pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; Haemophilus influenzae; bronchiolitis; inflammation; fibrosis
Mucus hypersecretion contributes to morbidity and mortality in many obstructive lung diseases. Gel-forming mucins are the chief glycoprotein components of airway mucus, and elevated expression of these during mucous metaplasia precedes the hypersecretory phenotype. Five orthologous genes (MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC6, and MUC19) encode the mammalian gel-forming mucin family, and several have been implicated in asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease pathologies. However, in the absence of a comprehensive analysis, their relative contributions remain unclear. Here, we assess the expression of the entire gel-forming mucin gene family in allergic mouse airways and show that Muc5ac is the predominant gel-forming mucin induced. We previously showed that the induction of mucous metaplasia in ovalbumin-sensitized and -challenged mouse lungs occurs within bronchial Clara cells. The temporal induction and localization of Muc5ac transcripts correlate with the induced expression and localization of mucin glycoproteins in bronchial airways. To better understand the tight regulation of Muc5ac expression, we analyzed all available 5′-flanking sequences of mammalian MUC5AC orthologs and identified evolutionarily conserved regions within domains proximal to the mRNA coding region. Analysis of luciferase reporter gene activity in a mouse transformed Clara cell line demonstrates that this region possesses strong promoter activity and harbors multiple conserved transcription factor–binding motifs. In particular, SMAD4 and HIF-1α bind to the promoter, and mutation of their recognition motifs abolishes promoter function. In conclusion, Muc5ac expression is the central event in antigen-induced mucous metaplasia, and phylogenetically conserved 5′ noncoding domains control its regulation.
mucin; metaplasia; airway; lung; epithelium
Mucin hypersecretion is a prominent feature of obstructive airway diseases such as asthma. Clara cells conditionally produce mucin in response to inflammatory signals in a process termed mucous metaplasia. This can be followed by mucin secretion stimulated by various signaling molecules. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate mucin production and secretion are not well understood. Adenosine is a signaling nucleoside that has been implicated in airway diseases in which mucus obstruction is prominent. Furthermore, the A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) is upregulated in mucin-producing goblet cells of the airway, thereby implicating it in processes involved in mucous cell biology. Here we use genetic approaches to investigate the contribution of A3AR signaling to mucus production and secretion in a mouse model of allergen-induced pulmonary disease. We found that the degree of mucin production in response to allergen is similar in wild-type and A3AR-deficient mice, and that overexpression of this receptor in Clara cells neither induces mucin production itself, nor enhances mucin production in response to allergen challenge. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate that the A3AR is neither necessary nor sufficient for mucous cell metaplasia. In contrast to the lack of effect on mucin production, agonist-induced mucin secretion was increased in goblet cells overexpressing the A3AR, and was absent in A3AR-deficient mice. Thus, the A3AR contributes to mucin secretion in allergen-induced metaplasia. Signaling through this receptor may contribute to mucus airway obstruction seen in pulmonary disorders in which adenosine levels are elevated.
mucin; mucous cell metaplasia; secretion; adenosine receptors; allergic lung disease
Mucus hypersecretion is a phenotype associated with multiple obstructive lung diseases. However, in spite of its nefarious reputation under pathologic conditions, there are significant benefits to having low levels of mucus present in the airways at baseline, such as the ability to trap and eliminate inhaled particles and to prevent desiccation of airway surfaces. Mucins are high–molecular-weight glycoproteins that are the chief components that render viscoelastic and gel-forming properties to mucus. Recent advances in animal models and in vitro systems have provided a wealth of information regarding the identification of the mucin genes that are expressed in the lungs, the signal transduction pathways that regulate the expression of these mucins, and the secretory pathways that mediate their release into the airways. In addition, the clinical and pathologic literature has corroborated many of the basic laboratory findings. As a result, mucin overproduction and hypersecretion are moving away from being markers of disease and toward being testable as functional components of lung disease processes.
epithelium; lung; metaplasia; mucin; secretion
Eosinophils cluster around airway nerves in patients with fatal asthma and in antigen-challenged animals. Activated eosinophils release major basic protein, which blocks inhibitory M2 muscarinic receptors (M2Rs) on nerves, increasing acetylcholine release and potentiating vagally mediated bronchoconstriction. We tested whether GW701897B, an antagonist of CCR3 (the receptor for eotaxin as well as a group of eosinophil active chemokines), affected vagal reactivity and M2R function in ovalbumin-challenged guinea pigs. Sensitized animals were treated with the CCR3 antagonist before inhaling ovalbumin. Antigen-challenged animals were hyperresponsive to vagal stimulation, but those that received the CCR3 antagonist were not. M2R function was lost in antigen-challenged animals, but not in those that received the CCR3 antagonist. Although the CCR3 antagonist did not decrease the number of eosinophils in lung tissues as assessed histologically, CCR3 antagonist prevented antigen-induced clustering of eosinophils along the nerves. Immunostaining revealed eotaxin in airway nerves and in cultured airway parasympathetic neurons from both guinea pigs and humans. Both IL-4 and IL-13 increased expression of eotaxin in cultured airway parasympathetic neurons as well as in human neuroblastoma cells. Thus, signaling via CCR3 mediates eosinophil recruitment to airway nerves and may be a prerequisite to blockade of inhibitory M2Rs by eosinophil major basic protein.
The mutations that have been implicated in pulmonary fibrosis account for only a small proportion of the population risk.
Using a genomewide linkage scan, we detected linkage between idiopathic interstitial pneumonia and a 3.4-Mb region of chromosome 11p15 in 82 families. We then evaluated genetic variation in this region in gel-forming mucin genes expressed in the lung among 83 subjects with familial interstitial pneumonia, 492 subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and 322 controls. MUC5B expression was assessed in lung tissue.
Linkage and fine mapping were used to identify a region of interest on the p-terminus of chromosome 11 that included gel-forming mucin genes. The minor-allele of the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs35705950, located 3 kb upstream of the MUC5B transcription start site, was present at a frequency of 34% among subjects with familial interstitial pneumonia, 38% among subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and 9% among controls (allelic association with familial interstitial pneumonia, P = 1.2×10−15; allelic association with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, P = 2.5×10−37). The odds ratios for disease among subjects who were heterozygous and those who were homozygous for the minor allele of this SNP were 6.8 (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.9 to 12.0) and 20.8 (95% CI, 3.8 to 113.7), respectively, for familial interstitial pneumonia and 9.0 (95% CI, 6.2 to 13.1) and 21.8 (95% CI, 5.1 to 93.5), respectively, for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. MUC5B expression in the lung was 14.1 times as high in subjects who had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as in those who did not (P<0.001). The variant allele of rs35705950 was associated with up-regulation in MUC5B expression in the lung in unaffected subjects (expression was 37.4 times as high as in unaffected subjects homozygous for the wild-type allele, P<0.001). MUC5B protein was expressed in lesions of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
A common polymorphism in the promoter of MUC5B is associated with familial interstitial pneumonia and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Our findings suggest that dys-regulated MUC5B expression in the lung may be involved in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)