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1.  Protein Kinase C-α and Arginase I Mediate Pneumolysin-Induced Pulmonary Endothelial Hyperpermeability 
Antibiotics-induced release of the pore-forming virulence factor pneumolysin (PLY) in patients with pneumococcal pneumonia results in its presence days after lungs are sterile and is a major factor responsible for the induction of permeability edema. Here we sought to identify major mechanisms mediating PLY-induced endothelial dysfunction. We evaluated PLY-induced endothelial hyperpermeability in human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HL-MVECs) and human lung pulmonary artery endothelial cells in vitro and in mice instilled intratracheally with PLY. PLY increases permeability in endothelial monolayers by reducing stable and dynamic microtubule content and modulating VE-cadherin expression. These events, dependent upon an increased calcium influx, are preceded by protein kinase C (PKC)-α activation, perturbation of the RhoA/Rac1 balance, and an increase in myosin light chain phosphorylation. At later time points, PLY treatment increases the expression and activity of arginase in HL-MVECs. Arginase inhibition abrogates and suppresses PLY-induced endothelial barrier dysfunction by restoring NO generation. Consequently, a specific PKC-α inhibitor and the TNF-derived tonoplast intrinsic protein peptide, which blunts PLY-induced PKC-α activation, are able to prevent activation of arginase in HL-MVECs and to reduce PLY-induced endothelial hyperpermeability in mice. Arginase I (AI)+/−/arginase II (AII)−/− C57BL/6 mice, displaying a significantly reduced arginase I expression in the lungs, are significantly less sensitive to PLY-induced capillary leak than their wild-type or AI+/+/AII−/− counterparts, indicating an important role for arginase I in PLY-induced endothelial hyperpermeability. These results identify PKC-α and arginase I as potential upstream and downstream therapeutic targets in PLY-induced pulmonary endothelial dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3488628  PMID: 22582175
PKC; arginase; pneumococcus; pneumolysin; TNF
2.  Serotonin Decreases Alveolar Epithelial Fluid Transport via a Direct Inhibition of the Epithelial Sodium Channel  
Hypoxia and epithelial stretch that are commonly observed in patients with acute lung injury have been shown to promote the release of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) in vitro. However, whether 5-HT contributes to the decrease of alveolar epithelial fluid transport, which is a hallmark of lung injury, is unknown. Thus, we investigated the effect of 5-HT on ion and fluid transport across the alveolar epithelium. 5-HT caused a dose-dependent inhibition of the amiloride-sensitive current across primary rat and human alveolar epithelial type II cell monolayers, but did not affect Na+/K+ ATPase function. Furthermore, we found that the 5-HT induced inhibition of ion transport across the lung epithelium was receptor independent, as it was not prevented by the blockade of 5-HT2R (5-HT receptor 2), 5-HT3R (5-HT receptor 3), or by pretreatment with an intracellular calcium-chelating agent, BAPTA-AM (1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid tetra(acetoxymethyl) ester). In addition, the stimulation of 5-HT1R (5-HT receptor 1), 5-HT2R (5-HT receptor 2), 5-HT4R (5-HT receptor 4), and 5-HT7R (5-HT receptor 7) failed to reproduce the 5-HT effect on amiloride-sensitive sodium transport. We ascertained that 5-HT directly inhibited the function of rat αβγ epithelial sodium channel (ENaC), as determined by heterologous expression of rat ENaC in Xenopus oocytes that do not express endogenous ENaC nor 5-HT receptors (5-HTR). Exposure of mice to hypoxia for 1 hour induced a 30% increase of 5-HT secretion into the distal airways of mice. Finally, the intratracheal instillation of 5-HT inhibited the amiloride-sensitive fraction of alveolar fluid clearance in mice. Together, these results indicate that 5-HT inhibits the amiloride-sensitive fraction of the alveolar epithelial fluid transport via a direct interaction with ENaC, and thus can be an endogenous inhibitor of this ion channel.
PMCID: PMC2911574  PMID: 19717814
alveolar; epithelial; ion transport; serotonin
3.  Anti-Chemokine Autoantibody:Chemokine Immune Complexes Activate Endothelial Cells via IgG Receptors 
Our previous studies revealed that the presence in lung fluids of anti–IL-8 autoantibody:IL-8 immune complexes is an important prognostic indicator for the development and outcome of acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Anti–IL-8:IL-8 complexes purified from lung edema fluids trigger chemotaxis of neutrophils, induce activation of these cells, and regulate their apoptosis, all via IgG receptor, FcγRIIa. Importantly, increased levels of FcγRIIa are present in lungs of patients with ARDS, where FcγRIIa is partially associated with anti–IL-8:IL-8 complexes. In the current study, we demonstrate the ability of anti–IL-8:IL-8 complexes to promote an inflammatory phenotype of human umbilical vein endothelial cells via interaction with FcγRIIa. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells cultured in the presence of the complexes become activated, as shown by increased phosphorylation of ERK, JNK, and Akt, and augmented nuclear translocation of NF-κB. Anti–IL-8:IL-8 complexes also up-regulate expression of intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 on the cell surface. Furthermore, we detected increased levels of ICAM-1 on lung endothelial cells from mice in which lung injury was induced by generating immune complexes in alveolar spaces. On the other hand, ICAM-1 expression was unchanged in lungs of γ chain–deficient mice, lacking receptors that interact with immune complexes. Moreover, in lung tissues from patients with ARDS, anti–IL-8:IL-8 complexes were associated with endothelial cells that expressed higher levels of ICAM-1. Our current findings implicate that anti-chemokine autoantibody:chemokine immune complexes, such as IL-8:IL-8 complexes, may contribute to pathogenesis of lung inflammation by inducing activation of endothelial cells through engagement of IgG receptors.
PMCID: PMC2715905  PMID: 19109244
chemokine; autoantibody; lung; IgG receptor
4.  Activation of the α7 nAChR Reduces Acid-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice and Rats 
New evidence indicates that neural mechanisms can down-regulate acute inflammation. In these studies, we tested the potential role of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) in a rodent model of acid-induced acute lung injury. We first determined that the α7 nAChR was expressed by alveolar macrophages and lung epithelial cells. Then, using an acid-induced acute lung injury mouse model, we found that nicotine, choline, and PNU-282987 (a specific α7 nAChR agonist) decreased excess lung water and lung vascular permeability, and reduced protein concentration in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Deficiency of α7 nAChR resulted in a 2-fold increase in excess lung water and lung vascular permeability. The reduction of proinflammatory cytokines (macrophage inflammatory protein-2 and TNF-α) in the BAL with nicotine probably resulted from the suppression of NF-κB activation in alveolar macrophages. The beneficial effect of nicotine was also tested in rat model of acid-induced acute lung injury in which BAL protein and receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), a marker of type I cell injury, were reduced by nicotine treatment. These results indicate that activation of α7 nAChR may provide a new therapeutic pathway for the treatment of acute lung injury.
PMCID: PMC1976545  PMID: 17431097
α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; acute lung injury; alveolar macrophage; nicotine; proinflammatory cytokines
5.  Novel Role of the Human Alveolar Epithelium in Regulating Intra-Alveolar Coagulation 
Intra-alveolar fibrin deposition is a common response to localized and diffuse lung infection and acute lung injury (ALI). We hypothesized that the alveolar epithelium modulates intra-alveolar fibrin deposition through activation of protein C. Our obejctives were to determine whether components of the protein C activation pathway are present in the alveolar compartment in ALI and whether alveolar epithelium is a potential source. In patients with ALI, pulmonary edema fluid levels of endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) were higher than plasma, suggesting a source in the lung. To determine whether alveolar epithelial cells are a potential source, protein C activation by A549, small airway epithelial, and primary human alveolar epithelial type II cells was measured. All three cell types express thrombomodulin (TM) and EPCR, and activate protein C on the cell surface. Activation of protein C was inhibited by cytomix (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IFN-γ). Release of EPCR and TM into the conditioned medium was inhibited by the metalloproteinase inhibitors tumor necrosis factor protease inhibitor (TAPI) and GM6001, indicating that the shedding of EPCR and TM from the alveolar epithelium is mediated by a metalloproteinase. These findings provide new evidence that the alveolar epithelium can modulate the protein C pathway and thus could be an important determinant of alveolar fibrin deposition. Local fibrin deposition may be a fundamental mechanism for the lung to localize and confine injury, thus limiting the risk of dissemination of injury or infection to the systemic circulation.
PMCID: PMC1899324  PMID: 17099142
alveolar epithelium; endothelium; protein C; coagulation; acute lung injury
6.  Cigarette Smoke Stimulates Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 Activity via EGR-1 in Human Lung Fibroblasts 
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recent reports of increased matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) in lungs of patients with emphysema support the paradigm of proteinase/antiproteinase imbalance in the pathogenesis of COPD. We sought to define the signaling pathways activated by smoke and to identify molecules responsible for emphysema-associated MMP-2 expression. In this study, we show that cigarette smoke extract (CSE) induced MMP-2 protein expression and increased MMP-2 gelatinase activity of normal lung fibroblasts. We previously identified a transcription factor, early growth response 1 (EGR-1), with robust expression in the lung tissues of patients with COPD compared with control smokers. Here, the treatment of fibroblasts with CSE resulted in marked induction of EGR-1 mRNA and protein in a dose- and time-dependent manner, accompanied by increased EGR-1 binding activity. CSE-induced MMP-2 mRNA and protein expression and activity were significantly inhibited using EGR-1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) or in Egr-1–null−/− mouse fibroblasts. Furthermore, we observed induction of membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), which has an EGR-1–binding site on its promoter, in CSE-treated primary normal lung fibroblasts. The concomitant MT1-MMP expression and MMP-2 activation by CSE are inhibited by EGR-1 siRNA. Rapid activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases was observed in CSE-treated fibroblasts. Chemical inhibitors of ERK1/2 MAPK, but not of p38 and JNK, decreased CSE-induced EGR-1 protein expression and MMP-2 activity of fibroblasts. The identification that induction of MMP-2 and MT1-MMP by CSE from lung fibroblasts is EGR-1–dependent reveals a molecular mechanism for matrix remodeling in cigarette smoke–related emphysema.
PMCID: PMC1899323  PMID: 17099140
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; EGR-1; cigarette smoke extract; MMP-2; MT1-MMP
7.  Integrin αvβ5 Regulates Lung Vascular Permeability and Pulmonary Endothelial Barrier Function 
Increased lung vascular permeability is an important contributor to respiratory failure in acute lung injury (ALI). We found that a function-blocking antibody against the integrin αvβ5 prevented development of lung vascular permeability in two different models of ALI: ischemia-reperfusion in rats (mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF]) and ventilation-induced lung injury (VILI) in mice (mediated, at least in part, by transforming growth factor-β [TGF-β]). Knockout mice homozygous for a null mutation of the integrin β5 subunit were also protected from lung vascular permeability in VILI. In pulmonary endothelial cells, both the genetic absence and blocking of αvβ5 prevented increases in monolayer permeability induced by VEGF, TGF-β, and thrombin. Furthermore, actin stress fiber formation induced by each of these agonists was attenuated by blocking αvβ5, suggesting that αvβ5 regulates induced pulmonary endothelial permeability by facilitating interactions with the actin cytoskeleton. These results identify integrin αvβ5 as a central regulator of increased pulmonary vascular permeability and a potentially attractive therapeutic target in ALI.
PMCID: PMC1899321  PMID: 17079779
integrin αvβ5; lung vascular permeability; pulmonary endothelial barrier function
10.  Proteinase-Activated Receptor-1 Mediates Elastase-Induced Apoptosis of Human Lung Epithelial Cells 
Apoptosis of distal lung epithelial cells plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of acute lung injury. In this context, proteinases, either circulating or leukocyte-derived, may contribute to epithelial apoptosis and lung injury. We hypothesized that apoptosis of lung epithelial cells induced by leukocyte elastase is mediated via the proteinase activated receptor (PAR)-1. Leukocyte elastase, thrombin, and PAR-1–activating peptide, but not the control peptide, induced apoptosis in human airway and alveolar epithelial cells as assessed by increases in cytoplasmic histone-associated DNA fragments and TUNEL staining. These effects were largely prevented by a specific PAR-1 antagonist and by short interfering RNA directed against PAR-1. To ascertain the mechanism of epithelial apoptosis, we determined that PAR-1AP, thrombin, and leukocyte elastase dissipated mitochondrial membrane potential, induced translocation of cytochrome c to the cytosol, enhanced cleavage of caspase-9 and caspase-3, and led to JNK activation and Akt inhibition. In concert, these observations provide strong evidence that leukocyte elastase mediates apoptosis of human lung epithelial cells through PAR-1–dependent modulation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway via alterations in mitochondrial permeability and by modulation of JNK and Akt.
PMCID: PMC2715314  PMID: 15891109
acute lung injury; proteinases; inflammation; signal transduction

Results 1-10 (10)