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1.  Cigarette Smoke Inhibits Engulfment of Apoptotic Cells by Macrophages through Inhibition of Actin Rearrangement 
Exposure to cigarette smoke (CS) was shown to impair the capacity of macrophages to clear bacteria and apoptotic cells. Here, we show that both the exposure of macrophages to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) in vitro and an acute single exposure to CS in vivo impair the macrophage clearance of apoptotic polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). Upon longer periods of exposure to smoke in vivo (4–12 weeks), the impaired capacity of macrophages to clear apoptotic cells persisted after the cessation of smoking, with slow recovery to normality observed 4 weeks later. With respect to the mechanism by which CS impairs the macrophage uptake of apoptotic PMNs, we did not detect altered surface expression of receptors associated with apoptotic cell clearance. We did observe the impaired phosphorylation of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Vav1 and the downstream inhibition of Ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rac1) activation. Consistent with these findings, CS impaired the macrophage cytoskeletal changes observed after stimulation with apoptotic cells. A loss of actin occurred at the leading edge, manifested as impaired ruffling of the cell membrane and a decreased capacity to engulf apoptotic cells. The inability to clear PMNs would lead to a greater release of destructive PMN products, and would diminish the reparative phenotype induced by the macrophage clearance of apoptotic cells.
PMCID: PMC3095920  PMID: 20525804
cigarette smoke; alveolar macrophage; phagocytosis and engulfment of apoptotic cells; actin rearrangements; small GTP protein Rac1
2.  Polymorphisms in Surfactant Protein–D Are Associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by alveolar destruction and abnormal inflammatory responses to noxious stimuli. Surfactant protein–D (SFTPD) is immunomodulatory and essential to host defense. We hypothesized that polymorphisms in SFTPD could influence the susceptibility to COPD. We genotyped six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in surfactant protein D in 389 patients with COPD in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) and 472 smoking control subjects from the Normative Aging Study (NAS). Case-control association analysis was performed using Cochran–Armitage trend tests and multivariate logistic regression. The replication of significant associations was attempted in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) Study, and the Bergen Cohort. We also correlated SFTPD genotypes with serum concentrations of surfactant protein–D (SP-D) in the ECLIPSE Study. In the NETT–NAS case-control analysis, four SFTPD SNPs were associated with susceptibility to COPD: rs2245121 (P = 0.01), rs911887 (P = 0.006), rs6413520 (P = 0.004), and rs721917 (P = 0.006). In the family-based analysis of the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, rs911887 was associated with prebronchodilator and postbronchodilator FEV1 (P = 0.003 and P = 0.02, respectively). An intronic SNP in SFTPD, rs7078012, was associated with COPD in the ECLIPSE Study and the Bergen Cohort. Multiple SFTPD SNPs were associated with serum SP-D concentrations in the ECLIPSE Study. We demonstrated an association of polymorphisms in SFTPD with COPD in multiple populations. We demonstrated a correlation between SFTPD SNPs and SP-D protein concentrations. The SNPs associated with COPD and SP-D concentrations differed, suggesting distinct genetic influences on susceptibility to COPD and SP-D concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3095932  PMID: 20448057
COPD; surfactant protein–D; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; genetics
3.  Epithelial Cell Apoptosis Causes Acute Lung Injury Masquerading as Emphysema 
Theories of emphysema traditionally revolved around proteolytic destruction of extracellular matrix. Models have recently been developed that show airspace enlargement with the induction of pulmonary cell apoptosis. The purpose of this study was to determine the mechanism by which a model of epithelial cell apoptosis caused airspace enlargement. Mice were treated with either intratracheal microcystin (MC) to induce apoptosis, intratracheal porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE), or their respective vehicles. Mice from all groups were inflated and morphometry was measured at various time points. Physiology measurements were performed for airway resistance, tissue elastance, and lung volumes. The groups were further analyzed by air–saline quasistatic measurements, surfactant staining, and surfactant functional studies. Mice treated with MC showed evidence of reversible airspace enlargement. In contrast, PPE-treated mice showed irreversible airspace enlargement. The airspace enlargement in MC-treated mice was associated with an increase in elastic recoil due to an increase in alveolar surface tension. PPE-treated mice showed a loss of lung elastic recoil and normal alveolar surface tension, a pattern more consistent with human emphysema. Airspace enlargement that occurs with the MC model of pulmonary epithelial cell apoptosis displays physiology distinct from human emphysema. Reversibility, restrictive physiology due to changes in surface tension, and alveolar enlargement associated with heterogeneous alveolar collapse are most consistent with a mild acute lung injury. Inflation near total lung capacity gives the appearance of enlarged alveoli as neighboring collapsed alveoli exert tethering forces.
PMCID: PMC2746987  PMID: 19188661
apoptosis; emphysema; physiology; murine model
4.  Molecular Biomarkers for Quantitative and Discrete COPD Phenotypes 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disorder with complex pathological features and largely unknown etiology. The identification of biomarkers for this disease could aid the development of methods to facilitate earlier diagnosis, the classification of disease subtypes, and provide a means to define therapeutic response. To identify gene expression biomarkers, we completed expression profiling of RNA derived from the lung tissue of 56 subjects with varying degrees of airflow obstruction using the Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 array. We applied multiple, independent analytical methods to define biomarkers for either discrete or quantitative disease phenotypes. Analysis of differential expression between cases (n = 15) and controls (n = 18) identified a set of 65 discrete biomarkers. Correlation of gene expression with quantitative measures of airflow obstruction (FEV1%predicted or FEV1/FVC) identified a set of 220 biomarkers. Biomarker genes were enriched in functions related to DNA binding and regulation of transcription. We used this group of biomarkers to predict disease in an unrelated data set, generated from patients with severe emphysema, with 97% accuracy. Our data contribute to the understanding of gene expression changes occurring in the lung tissue of patients with obstructive lung disease and provide additional insight into potential mechanisms involved in the disease process. Furthermore, we present the first gene expression biomarker for COPD validated in an independent data set.
PMCID: PMC2645534  PMID: 18849563
microarray; gene expression; emphysema; lung function
5.  Neutrophil Elastase Is Needed for Neutrophil Emigration into Lungs in Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury 
Mechanical ventilation, often required to maintain normal gas exchange in critically ill patients, may itself cause lung injury. Lung-protective ventilatory strategies with low tidal volume have been a major success in the management of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Volutrauma causes mechanical injury and induces an acute inflammatory response. Our objective was to determine whether neutrophil elastase (NE), a potent proteolytic enzyme in neutrophils, would contribute to ventilator-induced lung injury. NE-deficient (NE−/−) and wild-type mice were mechanically ventilated at set tidal volumes (10, 20, and 30 ml/kg) with 0 cm H2O of positive end-expiratory pressure for 3 hours. Lung physiology and markers of lung injury were measured. Neutrophils from wild-type and NE−/− mice were also used for in vitro studies of neutrophil migration, intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 cleavage, and endothelial cell injury. Surprisingly, in the absence of NE, mice were not protected, but developed worse ventilator-induced lung injury despite having lower numbers of neutrophils in alveolar spaces. The possible explanation for this finding is that NE cleaves ICAM-1, allowing neutrophils to egress from the endothelium. In the absence of NE, impaired neutrophil egression and prolonged contact between neutrophils and endothelial cells leads to tissue injury and increased permeability. NE is required for neutrophil egression from the vasculature into the alveolar space, and interfering with this process leads to neutrophil-related endothelial cell injury.
PMCID: PMC2438448  PMID: 18276796
neutrophil elastase; ventilator-induced lung injury; endothelial injury; emigration
6.  Essential Role of MMP-12 in Fas-Induced Lung Fibrosis 
Acute lung injury (ALI) is characterized by an early inflammatory response followed by a late fibroproliferative phase, and by an increase in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) concentrations of bioactive soluble FasL (sFasL). Activation of Fas (CD95) has been associated with the development of lung fibrosis in mice. The goal of this study was to determine the mechanisms that link Fas activation with the development of fibrosis in the lungs. We treated mice with three daily intratracheal instillations of a Fas-activating monoclonal antibody (Jo2) or a control IgG, and studied the animals at sequential times. Mice treated with Jo2 had increased caspase-3 activation in alveolar wall cells on Days 2, 4, and 7; an inflammatory response peaking on Day 7, and increased total lung collagen on Day 21. Gene expression profiling performed on Days 2, 4, and 7 showed sequential activation of co-regulated profibrotic genes, including marked up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP-12). Targeted deletion of MMP-12 protected mice from Fas-induced pulmonary fibrosis, even though the inflammatory responses in the lungs were similar to those of wild-type mice. Compared with wild-type mice, the mmp12−/− mice showed decreased expression of the profibrotic genes egr1 and cyr61. We conclude that Fas activation in the lungs induces a complex response that includes apoptosis, inflammation, and eventually fibrosis, and that MMP-12 is essential for the fibrotic phenotype. We speculate that MMP-12 activity is required for activation of the profibrotic genes egr1 and cyr61.
PMCID: PMC1976544  PMID: 17446527
apoptosis; inflammation; MMP-12; Fas; CYR61/CCN1

Results 1-6 (6)