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1.  Prostaglandin E2 Stimulates the Production of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor through the E-Prostanoid–2 Receptor in Cultured Human Lung Fibroblasts 
Fibroblasts are the major mesenchymal cells present within the interstitium of the lung and are a major source of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which modulates the maintenance of pulmonary microvasculature. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) acts on a set of E-prostanoid (EP) receptors that activate multiple signal transduction pathways leading to downstream responses. We investigated the modulation by PGE2 of VEGF release by human lung fibroblasts. Human lung fibroblasts were cultured until reaching 90% confluence in tissue culture plates, after which the culture media were changed to serum-free Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium, with or without PGE2, and with specific agonists or antagonists for each EP receptor. After 2 days, culture media were assayed for VEGF by ELISA. The results demonstrated that PGE2 and the EP2 agonist ONO-AE1-259-01 significantly stimulated the release of VEGF in a concentration-dependent manner. Agonists for other EP receptors did not stimulate the release of VEGF. The stimulatory effect of PGE2 was blocked by the EP2 antagonist AH6809, but was not blocked by antagonists for other EP receptors. The protein kinase–A (PKA) inhibitor KT-5720 also blocked the stimulatory effect of PGE2. The increased release of VEGF induced by PGE2 was accompanied by a transient increase in the concentration of VEGF mRNA. These findings demonstrate that PGE2 can modulate the release of VEGF by human lung fibroblasts through its actions in the EP2 receptor/PKA pathway. This activity may contribute to the maintenance of pulmonary microvasculature in the alveolar wall.
PMCID: PMC3297165  PMID: 22298530
prostaglandin E2; vascular endothelial growth factor; human lung fibroblasts; tissue repair
2.  Prostaglandin E2 Inhibits Human Lung Fibroblast Chemotaxis through Disparate Actions on Different E-Prostanoid Receptors 
The migration of fibroblasts is believed to play a key role in both normal wound repair and abnormal tissue remodeling. Prostaglandin E (PGE)2, a mediator that can inhibit many fibroblast functions including chemotaxis, was reported to be mediated by the E-prostanoid (EP) receptor EP2. PGE2, however, can act on four receptors. This study was designed to determine if EP receptors, in addition to EP2, can modulate fibroblast chemotaxis. Using human fetal lung fibroblasts, the expression of all four EP receptors was demonstrated by Western blotting. EP2-selective and EP4-selective agonists inhibited both chemotaxis toward fibronectin in the blindwell assay and migration in a wound-closure assay. In contrast, EP1-selective and EP3-selective agonists stimulated cell migration in both assay systems. These results were confirmed using EP-selective antagonists. The role of both EP2 and EP4 receptors in mediating the PGE2 inhibition of chemotaxis was also confirmed by small interfering RNA suppression. Furthermore, the role of EP receptors was confirmed by blocking the expected signaling pathways. Taken together, these results demonstrate that PGE2 can act on multiple EP receptors in human lung fibroblasts, to exert disparate effects. Alterations in EP receptor expression may have the potential to alter PGE2 action. Targeting specific EP receptors may offer therapeutic opportunities in conditions characterized by abnormal tissue repair and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3028259  PMID: 20203295
human lung fibroblast; cell migration; EP receptors
3.  Long-Term Cigarette Smoke Exposure in a Mouse Model of Ciliated Epithelial Cell Function 
Exposure to cigarette smoke is associated with airway epithelial mucus cell hyperplasia and a decrease in cilia and ciliated cells. Few models have addressed the long-term effects of chronic cigarette smoke exposure on ciliated epithelial cells. Our previous in vitro studies showed that cigarette smoke decreases ciliary beat frequency (CBF) via the activation of protein kinase C (PKC). We hypothesized that chronic cigarette smoke exposure in an in vivo model would decrease airway epithelial cell ciliary beating in a PKC-dependent manner. We exposed C57BL/6 mice to whole-body cigarette smoke 2 hours/day, 5 days/week for up to 1 year. Tracheal epithelial cell CBF and the number of motile cells were measured after necropsy in cut tracheal rings, using high-speed digital video microscopy. Tracheal epithelial PKC was assayed according to direct kinase activity. At 6 weeks and 3 months of smoke exposure, the baseline CBF was slightly elevated (∼ 1 Hz) versus control mice, with no change in β-agonist–stimulated CBF between control mice and cigarette smoke–exposed mice. By 6 months of smoke exposure, the baseline CBF was significantly decreased (2–3 Hz) versus control mice, and a β-agonist failed to stimulate increased CBF. The loss of β-agonist–increased CBF continued at 9 months and 12 months of smoke exposure, and the baseline CBF was significantly decreased to less than one third of the control rate. In addition to CBF, ciliated cell numbers significantly decreased in response to smoke over time, with a significant loss of tracheal ciliated cells occurring between 6 and 12 months. In parallel with the slowing of CBF, significant PKC activation from cytosol to the membrane of tracheal epithelial cells was detected in mice exposed to smoke for 6–12 months.
PMCID: PMC2993085  PMID: 20042711
chronic cigarette smoke; cilia; PKC
4.  Sphingosine 1-Phosphate Potentiates Human Lung Fibroblast Chemotaxis through the S1P2 Receptor 
Migration of fibroblasts plays an essential role in tissue repair after injury. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a multifunctional mediator released by many cells that can be released in inflammation and after injury. This study evaluated the effect of S1P on fibroblast chemotaxis toward fibronectin. S1P alone did not affect fibroblast migration, but S1P enhanced fibronectin-directed chemotaxis in a concentration-dependent manner. The effect of S1P was not mimicked by dihydro (dh) S1P or the S1P1 receptor agonist SEW2871. S1P augmentation of fibroblast chemotaxis, however, was completely blocked by JTE-013, an S1P2 antagonist, but not by suramin, an S1P3 antagonist. Suppression of the S1P2 receptor by small interfering (si)RNA also completely blocked S1P augmentation of fibroblast chemotaxis to fibronectin. S1P stimulated Rho activation and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) phosphorylation, and these were also significantly inhibited by the S1P2 receptor antagonist (JTE-013) or by S1P2 siRNA. Further, the potentiation of S1P signaling was blocked by the Rho-kinase inhibitor Y-27632 in a concentration-dependent manner. Inhibition of FAK with siRNA reduced basal chemotaxis toward fibronectin slightly but significantly, and almost completely blocked S1P augmented chemotaxis. These results suggest that S1P-augmented fibroblast chemotaxis toward fibronectin depends on the S1P2 receptor and requires Rho and Rho-kinase, and FAK phosphorylation. By augmenting fibroblast recruitment, S1P has the potential to modulate tissue repair after injury. The pathways by which S1P mediates this effect, therefore, represent a potential therapeutic target to affect tissue repair and remodeling.
PMCID: PMC2542450  PMID: 18367729
sphingosine 1-phosphate; fibroblasts; migration; fibronectin
5.  Cultured Lung Fibroblasts from Ovalbumin-Challenged “Asthmatic” Mice Differ Functionally from Normal 
Asthmatic airway remodeling is characterized by goblet cell hyperplasia, angiogenesis, smooth muscle hypertrophy, and subepithelial fibrosis. This study evaluated whether acquired changes in fibroblast phenotype could contribute to this remodeling. Airway and parenchymal fibroblasts from control or chronically ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized and challenged “asthmatic” mice were assessed for several functions related to repair and remodeling ± exogenous transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. All OVA-challenged mouse fibroblasts demonstrated augmented gel contraction (P < 0.05) and chemotaxis (P < 0.05); increased TGF-β1 (P < 0.05), fibronectin (P < 0.05), and vascular endothelial growth factor (P < 0.05) release; and expressed more α-smooth muscle actin (P < 0.05). TGF-β1 stimulated both control and asthmatic fibroblasts, which retained all differences from control fibroblasts for all features(P < 0.05, all comparisons). Parenchymal fibroblasts proliferated more rapidly (P < 0.05), while airway fibroblasts proliferated similarly compared with control fibroblasts (P = 0.25). Thus, in this animal model, OVA-challenged mouse fibroblasts acquire a distinct phenotype that differs from control fibroblasts. The augmented profibrotic activity and mediator release of asthmatic fibroblasts could contribute to airway remodeling in asthma.
PMCID: PMC2176123  PMID: 17575074
remodeling; fibroblast; phenotype; mouse model
6.  Prostacyclin Analogs Inhibit Fibroblast Contraction of Collagen Gels through the cAMP-PKA Pathway 
Prostacyclin is an arachidonic acid metabolite that modulates vascular tone within the lung. The current study evaluated the hypothesis that prostacyclin can also modulate tissue remodeling by affecting fibroblast-mediated contraction of extracellular matrix. To accomplish this, fibroblasts were cultured in three-dimensional native type I collagen gels in the presence of prostacyclin analogs: carbaprostacyclin, iloprost, and beraprost. All three analogs significantly inhibited contraction of the three-dimensional collagen gels mediated by three different fibroblasts. All three analogs significantly inhibited fibronectin release and reduced fibroblast fibronectin mRNA expression. Addition of exogenous fibronectin restored the contractile activity to fibroblasts incubated in the presence of all three analogs. Iloprost and beraprost significantly activated cAMP-dependent protein kinase-A (PKA), and an action through this pathway was confirmed by blockade of the inhibitory effect on contraction and fibronectin release with the PKA inhibitor KT-5720. In contrast, carbaprostacyclin, which is not as selective for the prostacyclin (IP) receptor, did not activate PKA, and its effects on contraction and fibronectin release were not fully blocked by KT-5720. Finally, the cAMP analogs N6-Benzoyl- (6-Bnz-) cAMP and dibutyryl-cAMP inhibited contraction, and this contrasted with the activity of an Epac selective agonist 8-pCPT-2′-O-Me-cAMP, which had no effect. Taken together, these results indicate that prostacyclin, acting through the IP receptor and by activating PKA, can lead to inhibition of fibronectin release and can subsequently inhibit fibroblast-mediated collagen gel contraction. The ability of prostacyclin to modulate fibroblast function suggests that prostacyclin can contribute to tissue remodeling.
PMCID: PMC1899347  PMID: 17363776
prostacyclin; fibroblasts; tissue remodeling; fibronectin
7.  Thrombin and TNF-α/IL-1β Synergistically Induce Fibroblast-Mediated Collagen Gel Degradation 
Degradation of preexisting and newly synthesized extracellular matrix is thought to play an important role in tissue remodeling. The current study evaluated whether thrombin and TNF-α/IL-1β could collaboratively induce collagen degradation by human fetal lung fibroblasts (HFL-1) and adult bronchial fibroblasts cultured in three-dimensional collagen gels. TNF-α/IL-1β alone induced production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-1, -3, and -9, which were released in latent form. With the addition of thrombin, the latent MMPs were converted into active forms and this resulted in collagen gel degradation. Part of the activation of MMPs by thrombin resulted from direct activation of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, and MMP-9 in the absence of cells. In addition, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 production was inhibited by the combination of thrombin and TNF-α/IL-1β. These results suggest that thrombin and TNF-α/IL-1β synergize to induce degradation of three-dimensional collagen gels through increasing the production and activation of MMPs, and that this effect is mediated through both direct activation of MMPs by thrombin and indirectly by thrombin activation of fibroblasts. Through such mechanisms, thrombin could contribute to many chronic lung disorders characterized by tissue remodeling.
PMCID: PMC2643297  PMID: 16858010
thrombin; matrix metalloproteinase; collagen degradation

Results 1-7 (7)