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1.  Cytokines Alter Glucocorticoid Receptor Phosphorylation in Airway Cells 
Corticosteroid insensitivity (CSI) represents a profound challenge in managing patients with asthma. We recently demonstrated that short exposure of airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs) to proasthmatic cytokines drastically reduced their responsiveness to glucocorticoids (GCs), an effect that was partially mediated via interferon regulatory factor-1, suggesting the involvement of additional mechanisms (Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008;38:463–472). Although GC receptor (GR) can be phosphorylated at multiple serines in the N-terminal region, the major phosphorylation sites critical for GR transcriptional activity are serines 211 (Ser211) and 226 (Ser226). We tested the novel hypothesis that cytokine-induced CSI in ASMCs is due to an impaired GR phosphorylation. Cells were treated with TNF-α (10 ng/ml) and IFN-γ (500 UI/ml) for 6 hours and/or fluticasone (100 nm) added 2 hours before. GR was constitutively phosphorylated at Ser226 but not at Ser211 residues. Cytokines dramatically suppressed fluticasone-induced phosphorylation of GR on Ser211 but not on Ser226 residues while increasing the expression of Ser/Thr protein phosphatase (PP)5 but not that of PP1 or PP2A. Transfection studies using a reporter construct containing GC responsive elements showed that the specific small interfering RNA–induced mRNA knockdown of PP5, but not that of PP1 or PP2A, partially prevented the cytokine suppressive effects on GR-meditated transactivation activity. Similarly, cytokines failed to inhibit GC-induced GR-Ser211 phosphorylation when expression of PP5 was suppressed. We propose that the novel mechanism that proasthmatic cytokine-induced CSI in ASMCs is due, in part, to PP5-mediated impairment of GR-Ser211 phosphorylation.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2011-0364OC
PMCID: PMC3488623  PMID: 22592921
serine/threonine protein phosphatase; airway smooth muscle; asthma; corticosteroid insensitivity; airway remodeling
2.  Hyperthermia Promotes and Prevents Respiratory Epithelial Apoptosis through Distinct Mechanisms 
Hyperthermia has been shown to confer cytoprotection and to augment apoptosis in different experimental models. We analyzed the mechanisms of both effects in the same mouse lung epithelial (MLE) cell line (MLE15). Exposing MLE15 cells to heat shock (HS; 42°C, 2 h) or febrile-range hyperthermia (39.5°C) concurrent with activation of the death receptors, TNF receptor 1 or Fas, greatly accelerated apoptosis, which was detectable within 30 minutes and was associated with accelerated activation of caspase-2, -8, and -10, and the proapoptotic protein, Bcl2-interacting domain (Bid). Caspase-3 activation and cell death were partially blocked by inhibitors targeting all three initiator caspases. Cells expressing the IκB superrepessor were more susceptible than wild-type cells to TNF-α–induced apoptosis at 37°C, but HS and febrile-range hyperthermia still increased apoptosis in these cells. Delaying HS for 3 hours after TNF-α treatment abrogated its proapoptotic effect in wild-type cells, but not in IκB superrepressor-expression cells, suggesting that TNF-α stimulates delayed resistance to the proapoptotic effects of HS through an NF-κB–dependent mechanism. Pre-exposure to 2-hour HS beginning 6 to16 hours before TNF-α treatment or Fas activation reduced apoptosis in MLE15 cells. The antiapoptotic effects of HS pretreatment were reduced in TNF-α–treated embryonic fibroblasts from heat shock factor-1 (HSF1)-deficient mice, but the proapoptotic effects of concurrent HS were preserved. Thus, depending on the temperature and timing relative to death receptor activation, hyperthermia can exert pro- and antiapoptotic effects through distinct mechanisms.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0105OC
PMCID: PMC3547099  PMID: 22962066
heat shock; febrile-range hyperthermia; Fas; TNF; apoptosis
3.  Multidirectional Differentiation of Achaete–Scute Homologue–1–Defined Progenitors in Lung Development and Injury Repair 
Multiple cells contribute to the function of lungs. Pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNECs) are important for the regulation of breathing and carcinogenesis, although they represent only a small population of the airway lining. Achaete–Scute homologue–1 (Ascl1), a proneural basic helix–loop–helix transcription factor, is critical for the development of PNECs. We postulated that Ascl1-defined cells (ASDCs) may be progenitors, and traced their fate during development and injury repair. R26R-stop-lacZ (Rosa) reporter mice were crossed with Ascl1-Cre or Ascl1-CreERTM mice, in which the Ascl1 promoter drives the expression of Cre or inducible Cre recombinase, respectively. ASDCs and their descendants will be permanently labeled. The labeled cells were characterized by immunohistochemistry, using highly specific differentiation markers. Lineage studies revealed a population that proliferates before the pseudoglandular stage, and widely contributes to different compartments. When ASDCs were labeled on Embryonic Day 9.5, they gave rise to both airway and alveolar cells, but when labeled on Embryonic Day 11.5, they only gave rise to airway cells. In postnatal naphthalene injury, ASDCs contributed to regenerating Clara cells. In conclusion, Ascl1-defined cells in the lung represent a novel multipotent lineage, indicating a close relationship of neuroendocrine cells with other cell types.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0027OC
PMCID: PMC3547090  PMID: 22878413
Ascl1; lung; neuroendocrine; mouse; progenitor
4.  Prolonged Injury and Altered Lung Function after Ozone Inhalation in Mice with Chronic Lung Inflammation 
Surfactant protein–D (Sftpd) is a pulmonary collectin important in down-regulating macrophage inflammatory responses. In these experiments, we analyzed the effects of chronic macrophage inflammation attributable to loss of Sftpd on the persistence of ozone-induced injury, macrophage activation, and altered functioning in the lung. Wild-type (Sftpd+/+) and Sftpd−/− mice (aged 8 wk) were exposed to air or ozone (0.8 parts per million, 3 h). Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and tissue were collected 72 hours later. In Sftpd−/− mice, but not Sftpd+/+ mice, increased BAL protein and nitrogen oxides were observed after ozone inhalation, indicating prolonged lung injury and oxidative stress. Increased numbers of macrophages were also present in BAL fluid and in histologic sections from Sftpd−/− mice. These cells were enlarged and foamy, suggesting that they were activated. This conclusion was supported by findings of increased BAL chemotactic activity, and increased expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase in lung macrophages. In both Sftpd+/+ and Sftpd−/− mice, inhalation of ozone was associated with functional alterations in the lung. Although these alterations were limited to central airway mechanics in Sftpd+/+ mice, both central airway and parenchymal mechanics were modified by ozone exposure in Sftpd−/− mice. The most notable changes were evident in resistance and elastance spectra and baseline lung function, and in lung responsiveness to changes in positive end-expiratory pressure. These data demonstrate that a loss of Sftpd is associated with prolonged lung injury, oxidative stress, and macrophage accumulation and activation in response to ozone, and with more extensive functional changes consistent with the loss of parenchymal integrity.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2011-0433OC
PMCID: PMC3547091  PMID: 22878412
ozone; surfactant protein–D; macrophages; iNOS; lung function
5.  Acute Inflammation Induces Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 to Mediate Bcl-2 and Muc5ac Expression in Airway Epithelial Cells 
Generally, exposure to LPS in human airways occurs in the form of aerosols and causes an acute inflammatory response or exacerbates existing chronic inflammatory conditions by enhancing airway remodeling and associated pathologies. The present study evaluated which inflammatory mediators may be responsible for the expression of Bcl-2 and mucus cell metaplasia when mice are exposed to aerosolized LPS. At 3 days after exposure, aerosolized LPS (for 20–40 min) with the estimated lung deposited dosage of 0, 0.02, 0.2, 1.4, and 20.2 μg showed a characteristic dose-dependent increase in polymorphonuclear neutrophils. Significant increases of proinflammatory mediators, including IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, growth-related oncogene or keratinocyte-derived cytokine, IFN-γ–induced protein-10, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α, were detected at the highest doses. In addition to increased numbers of airway epithelial cells, mucus cell numbers and mucus production were increased in a dose-dependent manner. Hyperplastic epithelial cells expressed insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and, similar to previous studies, increased expression of the prosurvival protein Bcl-2 and induced expression of Muc5ac. Suppression of IGF-1 expression using retroviral shRNA blocked Bcl-2 expression in human and murine airway epithelial cells and Muc5ac in primary murine airway epithelial cells. These findings show that acute inflammation induces IGF-1 to mediate Bcl-2 and Muc5ac expression in airway epithelial cells.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0079OC
PMCID: PMC3547092  PMID: 22878411
LPS aerosol; mucus cell metaplasia; cell death; retroviral shRNA; cytokines
6.  Cigarette Smoke–Induced CXCR3 Receptor Up-Regulation Mediates Endothelial Apoptosis 
Endothelial monocyte–activating polypeptide II (EMAP II) and interferon-inducible protein (IP)–10 are proinflammatory mediators, which in addition to their chemokine activities, selectively induce apoptosis in endothelial cells and are up-regulated in the lungs of cigarette smoke–exposed humans. Previously, we showed that EMAP II is an essential mediator of cigarette smoke–induced lung emphysema in mice linking endothelial cell apoptosis with inflammation. Here we addressed the role of the CXCR3 receptor in EMAP II–induced and IP-10–induced apoptosis in endothelial cells and its regulation by cigarette smoke. We found that both neutralizing antibodies and small inhibitory RNA to CXCR3 abrogated EMAP II–induced and IP-10–induced endothelial caspase-3 activation and DNA fragmentation. CXCR3 receptor surface expression in human lung microvascular endothelial cells and in lung tissue endothelium was up-regulated by exposure to cigarette smoke. In tissue culture conditions, EMAP II–induced and IP-10–induced apoptosis was enhanced by preincubation with cigarette smoke extract. Interestingly, serum starvation also induced CXCR3 up-regulation and enhanced EMAP II–induced endothelial apoptosis. Signal transduction via p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation was essential for CXCR3-induced cell death, but not for CXCR3 receptor up-regulation by cigarette smoke. In turn, protein nitration was required for CXCR3 receptor up-regulation by cigarette smoke and consequently for subsequent CXCR3-induced cell death. In conclusion, the concerted up-regulation of proinflammatory EMAP II, IP-10, and CXCR3 by cigarette smoke could sustain a cascade of cell death that may promote the alveolar tissue loss noted in human emphysema.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0132OC
PMCID: PMC3547093  PMID: 22936405
CXCR3; endothelial; apoptosis; lung; emphysema
7.  Increased Surfactant Protein D Fails to Improve Bacterial Clearance and Inflammation in serpinB1−/− Mice 
Previously, we described the protective role of the neutrophil serine protease inhibitor serpinB1 in preventing early mortality of Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection by fostering bacterial clearance and limiting inflammatory cytokines and proteolytic damage. Surfactant protein D (SP-D), which maintains the antiinflammatory pulmonary environment and mediates bacterial removal, was degraded in infected serpinB1-deficient mice. Based on the hypothesis that increased SP-D would rescue or mitigate the pathological effects of serpinB1 deletion, we generated two serpinB1−/− lines overexpressing lung-specific rat SP-D and inoculated the mice with P. aeruginosa. Contrary to predictions, bacterial counts in the lungs of SP-DlowserpinB1−/− and SP-Dhigh serpinB1−/− mice were 4 logs higher than wild-type and not different from serpinB1−/− mice. SP-D overexpression also failed to mitigate inflammation (TNF-α), lung injury (free protein, albumin), or excess neutrophil death (free myeloperoxidase, elastase). These pathological markers were higher for infected SP-DhighserpinB1−/− mice than for serpinB1−/− mice, although the differences were not significant after controlling for multiple comparisons. The failure of transgenic SP-D to rescue antibacterial defense of serpinB1-deficient mice occurred despite 5-fold or 20-fold increased expression levels, largely normal structure, and dose-dependent bacteria-aggregating activity. SP-D of infected wild-type mice was intact in 43-kD monomers by reducing SDS-PAGE. By contrast, proteolytic fragments of 35, 17, and 8 kD were found in infected SP-DlowserpinB1−/−, SP-Dhigh serpinB1−/− mice, and serpinB1−/− mice. Thus, although therapies to increase lung concentration of SP-D may have beneficial applications, the findings suggest that therapy with SP-D may not be beneficial for lung inflammation or infection if the underlying clinical condition includes excess proteolysis.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0145OC
PMCID: PMC3547094  PMID: 23024061
surfactant protein D; lung infection; inflammation; serpinB1; proteolysis
8.  Profibrotic Role of miR-154 in Pulmonary Fibrosis 
In this study, we explored the regulation and the role of up-regulated microRNAs in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive interstitial lung disease of unknown origin. We analyzed the expression of microRNAs in IPF lungs and identified 43 significantly up-regulated microRNAs. Twenty-four of the 43 increased microRNAs were localized to the chromosome 14q32 microRNA cluster. We validated the increased expression of miR-154, miR-134, miR-299–5p, miR-410, miR-382, miR-409–3p, miR-487b, miR-31, and miR-127 by quantitative RT-PCR and determined that they were similarly expressed in embryonic lungs. We did not find evidence for differential methylation in this region, but analysis of transcription factor binding sites identified multiple SMAD3-binding elements in the 14q32 microRNA cluster. TGF-β1 stimulation of normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF) caused up-regulation of microRNAs on chr14q32 that were also increased in IPF lungs. Chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed binding of SMAD3 to the putative promoter of miR-154. Mir-154 was increased in IPF fibroblasts, and transfection of NHLF with miR-154 caused significant increases in cell proliferation and migration. The increase in proliferation induced by TGF-β was not observed when NHLF or IPF fibroblasts were transfected with a mir-154 inhibitor. Transfection with miR-154 caused activation of the WNT pathway in NHLF. ICG-001 and XAV939, inhibitors of the WNT/β-catenin pathway, reduced the proliferative effect of miR-154. The potential role of miR-154, one of multiple chr14q32 microRNA cluster members up-regulated in IPF and a regulator of fibroblast migration and proliferation, should be further explored in IPF.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2011-0377OC
PMCID: PMC3547095  PMID: 23043088
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; microRNA; TGF-β; WNT/β-catenin; developmental pathways
9.  Postnatal Exposure History and Airways 
Postnatally, the lung continues to grow and differentiate while interacting with the environment. Exposure to ozone (O3) and allergens during postnatal lung development alters structural elements of conducting airways, including innervation and neurokinin abundance. These changes have been linked with development of asthma in a rhesus monkey model. We hypothesized that O3 exposure resets the ability of the airways to respond to oxidant stress and that this is mediated by changes in the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R). Infant rhesus monkeys received episodic exposure to O3 biweekly with or without house dust mite antigen (HDMA) from 6 to 12 months of age. Age-matched monkeys were exposed to filtered air (FA). Microdissected airway explants from midlevel airways (intrapulmonary generations 5–8) for four to six animals in each of four groups (FA, O3, HDMA, and HDMA+O3) were tested for NK-1R gene responses to acute oxidant stress using exposure to hydrogen peroxide (1.2 mM), a lipid ozonide (10 μM), or sham treatment for 4 hours in vitro. Airway responses were measured using real-time quantitative RT-PCR of NK-1R and IL-8 gene expression. Basal NK-1R gene expression levels were not different between the exposure groups. Treatment with ozonide or hydrogen peroxide did not change NK-1R gene expression in animals exposed to FA, HDMA, or HDMA+O3. However, treatment in vitro with lipid ozonide significantly increased NK-1R gene expression in explants from O3–exposed animals. We conclude that a history of prior O3 exposure resets the steady state of the airways to increase the NK-1R response to subsequent acute oxidant stresses.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0110OC
PMCID: PMC3547096  PMID: 22962062
bronchial epithelium; lung; Substance P; Nur77
10.  In Vivo Imaging of Tracheal Epithelial Cells in Mice during Airway Regeneration 
Many human lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, and cystic fibrosis, are characterized by changes in the cellular composition and architecture of the airway epithelium. Intravital fluorescence microscopy has emerged as a powerful approach in mechanistic studies of diseases, but it has been difficult to apply this tool for in vivo respiratory cell biology in animals in a minimally invasive manner. Here, we describe a novel miniature side-view confocal probe capable of visualizing the epithelium in the mouse trachea in vivo at a single-cell resolution. We performed serial real-time endotracheal fluorescence microscopy in live transgenic reporter mice to view the three major cell types of the large airways, namely, basal cells, Clara cells, and ciliated cells. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, we monitored the regeneration of Clara cells over 18 days after a sulfur dioxide injury. Our results show that in vivo tracheal microscopy offers a new approach in the study of altered, regenerating, or metaplastic airways in animal models of lung diseases.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0164OC
PMCID: PMC3547097  PMID: 22984086
in vivo fluorescence microscopy; mouse imaging; epithelial regeneration
11.  In Utero Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke Aggravates Adult Responses to Irritants 
In utero exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) is associated with exacerbated asthmatic responses in children. We tested the hypothesis that in utero SHS will aggravate the lung responses of young adult mice re-exposed to SHS. We exposed Balb/c mice in utero to SHS (S) or filtered air (AIR; A), and re-exposed the male offspring daily from 11–15 weeks of age to either SHS (AS and SS) or AIR (AA and SA). After the adult exposures, we analyzed samples of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), examined the results of histopathology, and assessed pulmonary function and gene expression changes in lung samples. In SS mice, compared with the other three groups (AA, AS, and SA), we found decreases in breathing frequency and increases in airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), as well as low but significantly elevated concentrations of BALF proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1b, IL-6, and keratinocyte-derived chemokine). Lung morphometric analyses revealed enlarged airspaces and arteries in SA and SS mice compared with their in utero AIR counterparts, as well as increased collagen deposition in AS and SS mice. Unique gene expression profiles were found for in utero, adult, and combined exposures, as well as for mice with elevated AHR responses. The profibrotic metalloprotease genes, Adamts9 and Mmp3, were up-regulated in the SS and AHR groups, suggesting a role for in utero SHS exposure on the adult development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Our results indicate that in utero exposures to environmentally relevant concentrations of SHS alter lung structure more severely than do adult SHS exposures of longer duration. These in utero exposures also aggravate AHR and promote a profibrotic milieu in adult lungs.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0241OC
PMCID: PMC3547098  PMID: 22962063
second-hand smoke; in utero exposure; airway hyperresponsiveness; lung structure changes; gene expression
12.  The Nox4 Inhibitor GKT137831 Attenuates Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Vascular Cell Proliferation 
Increased NADP reduced (NADPH) oxidase 4 (Nox4) and reduced expression of the nuclear hormone receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) contribute to hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (PH). To examine the role of Nox4 activity in pulmonary vascular cell proliferation and PH, the current study used a novel Nox4 inhibitor, GKT137831, in hypoxia-exposed human pulmonary artery endothelial or smooth muscle cells (HPAECs or HPASMCs) in vitro and in hypoxia-treated mice in vivo. HPAECs or HPASMCs were exposed to normoxia or hypoxia (1% O2) for 72 hours with or without GKT137831. Cell proliferation and Nox4, PPARγ, and transforming growth factor (TGF)β1 expression were measured. C57Bl/6 mice were exposed to normoxia or hypoxia (10% O2) for 3 weeks with or without GKT137831 treatment during the final 10 days of exposure. Lung PPARγ and TGF-β1 expression, right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH), right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), and pulmonary vascular remodeling were measured. GKT137831 attenuated hypoxia-induced H2O2 release, proliferation, and TGF-β1 expression and blunted reductions in PPARγ in HPAECs and HPASMCs in vitro. In vivo GKT137831 inhibited hypoxia-induced increases in TGF-β1 and reductions in PPARγ expression and attenuated RVH and pulmonary artery wall thickness but not increases in RVSP or muscularization of small arterioles. This study shows that Nox4 plays a critical role in modulating proliferative responses of pulmonary vascular wall cells. Targeting Nox4 with GKT137831 provides a novel strategy to attenuate hypoxia-induced alterations in pulmonary vascular wall cells that contribute to vascular remodeling and RVH, key features involved in PH pathogenesis.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2011-0418OC
PMCID: PMC3547100  PMID: 22904198
rosiglitazone; PPARγ; TGF-β; pulmonary hypertension
13.  Glucocorticoid Receptor and Histone Deacetylase–2 Mediate Dexamethasone-Induced Repression of MUC5AC Gene Expression 
Airway occlusion in obstructive airway diseases is caused in part by the overproduction of secretory mucin glycoproteins through the up-regulation of mucin (MUC) genes by inflammatory mediators. Some pharmacological agents, including the glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex), repress mucin concentrations in lung epithelial cancer cells. Here, we show that Dex reduces the expression of MUC5AC, a major airway mucin gene, in primary differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner, and that the Dex-induced repression is mediated by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and two glucocorticoid response elements (GREs) in the MUC5AC promoter. The pre-exposure of cells to RU486, a GR antagonist, and mutations in either the GRE3 or GRE5 cis-sites abolished the Dex-induced repression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays showed a rapid temporal recruitment of GR to the GRE3 and GRE5 cis-elements in the MUC5AC promoter in NHBE and in A549 cells. Immunofluorescence showed nuclear colocalization of GR and histone deacetylase–2 (HDAC2) in MUC5AC-expressing NHBE cells. ChIP also showed a rapid temporal recruitment of HDAC2 to the GRE3 and GRE5 cis-elements in the MUC5AC promoter in both cell types. The knockdown of HDAC2 by HDAC2-specific short interfering RNA prevented the Dex-induced repression of MUC5AC in NHBE and A549 cells. These data demonstrate that GR and HDAC2 are recruited to the GRE3 and GRE5 cis-sites in the MUC5AC promoter and mediate the Dex-induced cis repression of MUC5AC gene expression. A better understanding of the mechanisms whereby glucocorticoids repress MUC5AC gene expression may be useful in formulating therapeutic interventions in chronic lung diseases.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0009OC
PMCID: PMC3547101  PMID: 22798432
MUC5AC; HDAC2; dexamethasone; gene repression; glucocorticoid receptor
14.  Sustained Adenosine Exposure Causes Lung Endothelial Barrier Dysfunction via Nucleoside Transporter–Mediated Signaling 
Previous studies by our group as well as others have shown that acute adenosine exposure enhances lung vascular endothelial barrier integrity and protects against increased permeability lung edema. In contrast, there is growing evidence that sustained adenosine exposure has detrimental effects on the lungs, including lung edema. It is well established that adenosine modulates lung inflammation. However, little is known concerning the effect of sustained adenosine exposure on lung endothelial cells (ECs), which are critical to the maintenance of the alveolar–capillary barrier. We show that exogenous adenosine plus adenosine deaminase inhibitor caused sustained elevation of adenosine in lung ECs. This sustained adenosine exposure decreased EC barrier function, elevated cellular reactive oxygen species levels, and activated p38, JNK, and RhoA. Inhibition of equilibrative nucleoside transporters (ENTs) prevented sustained adenosine-induced p38 and JNK activation and EC barrier dysfunction. Inhibition of p38, JNK, or RhoA also partially attenuated sustained adenosine-induced EC barrier dysfunction. These data indicate that sustained adenosine exposure causes lung EC barrier dysfunction via ENT-dependent intracellular adenosine uptake and subsequent activation of p38, JNK, and RhoA. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine and the NADPH inhibitor partially blunted sustained adenosine-induced JNK activation but were ineffective in attenuation of p38 activation or barrier dysfunction. p38 was activated exclusively in mitochondria, whereas JNK was activated in mitochondria and cytoplasm by sustained adenosine exposure. Our data further suggest that sustained adenosine exposure may cause mitochondrial oxidative stress, leading to activation of p38, JNK, and RhoA in mitochondria and resulting in EC barrier dysfunction.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0012OC
PMCID: PMC3547102  PMID: 22744860
adenosine deaminase; equilibrative nucleoside transporters; oxidative stress; MAP kinases; RhoA
15.  Oxidative Stress Contributes to Lung Injury and Barrier Dysfunction via Microtubule Destabilization 
Oxidative stress is an important part of host innate immune response to foreign pathogens, such as bacterial LPS, but excessive activation of redox signaling may lead to pathologic endothelial cell (EC) activation and barrier dysfunction. Microtubules (MTs) play an important role in agonist-induced regulation of vascular endothelial permeability, but their impact in modulation of inflammation and EC barrier has not been yet investigated. This study examined the effects of LPS-induced oxidative stress on MT dynamics and the involvement of MTs in the LPS-induced mechanisms of Rho activation, EC permeability, and lung injury. LPS treatment of pulmonary vascular EC induced elevation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and caused oxidative stress associated with EC hyperpermeability, cytoskeletal remodeling, and formation of paracellular gaps, as well as activation of Rho, p38 stress kinase, and NF-κB signaling, the hallmarks of endothelial barrier dysfunction. LPS also triggered ROS-dependent disassembly of the MT network, leading to activation of MT-dependent signaling. Stabilization of MTs with epothilone B, or inhibition of MT-associated guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF)-H1 activity by silencing RNA-mediated knockdown, suppressed LPS-induced EC barrier dysfunction in vitro, and attenuated vascular leak and lung inflammation in vivo. LPS disruptive effects were linked to activation of Rho signaling caused by LPS-induced MT disassembly and release of Rho-specific GEF-H1 from MTs. These studies demonstrate, for the first time, the mechanism of ROS-induced Rho activation via destabilization of MTs and GEF-H1–dependent activation of Rho signaling, leading to pulmonary EC barrier dysfunction and exacerbation of LPS-induced inflammation.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0161OC
PMCID: PMC3547103  PMID: 22842495
endothelium; permeability; microtubules; guanine nucleotide exchange factor-H1; LPS
16.  Regulation of Rela/p65 and Endothelial Cell Inflammation by Proline-Rich Tyrosine Kinase 2 
We investigated the role of proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) in the mechanism of NF-κB activation and endothelial cell (EC) inflammation induced by thrombin, a procoagulant serine protease released in high amounts during sepsis and other inflammatory conditions. Stimulation of ECs with thrombin resulted in a time-dependent activation of Pyk2. RNA interference knockdown of Pyk2 attenuated thrombin-induced activity of NF-κB and expression of its target genes, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. Pyk2 knockdown impaired thrombin-induced activation of IκB kinase (IKK) and phosphorylation (Ser32 and Ser36) of IkappaBα, but, surprisingly, failed to prevent IκBα degradation. However, depletion of IKKα or IKKβ was effective in inhibiting IκBα phosphorylation/degradation, as expected. Intriguingly, Pyk2 knockdown impaired nuclear translocation and DNA binding of RelA/p65, despite the inability to prevent IκBα degradation. In addition, Pyk2 knockdown was associated with inhibition of RelA/p65 phosphorylation at Ser536, which is important for transcriptional activity of RelA/p65. Depletion of IKKα or IKKβ each impaired RelA/p65 phosphorylation. Taken together, these data identify Pyk2 as a critical regulator of EC inflammation by virtue of engaging IKK to promote the release and the transcriptional capacity of RelA/p65, and, additionally, by its ability to facilitate the nuclear translocation of the released RelA/p65. Thus, specific targeting of Pyk2 may be an effective anti-inflammatory strategy in vascular diseases associated with EC inflammation and intravascular coagulation.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0047OC
PMCID: PMC3547104  PMID: 22842493
endothelial cells; signal transduction; transcription factors; adhesion molecules; inflammation
18.  Sphingosine-1–Phosphate Receptor–3 Is a Novel Biomarker in Acute Lung Injury 
The inflamed lung exhibits oxidative and nitrative modifications of multiple target proteins, potentially reflecting disease severity and progression. We identified sphingosine-1–phosphate receptor–3 (S1PR3), a critical signaling molecule mediating cell proliferation and vascular permeability, as a nitrated plasma protein in mice with acute lung injury (ALI). We explored S1PR3 as a potential biomarker in murine and human ALI. In vivo nitrated and total S1PR3 concentrations were determined by immunoprecipitation and microarray studies in mice, and by ELISA in human plasma. In vitro nitrated S1PR3 concentrations were evaluated in human lung vascular endothelial cells (ECs) or within microparticles shed from ECs after exposure to barrier-disrupting agonists (LPS, low-molecular-weight hyaluronan, and thrombin). The effects of S1PR3-containing microparticles on EC barrier function were assessed by transendothelial electrical resistance (TER). Nitrated S1PR3 was identified in the plasma of murine ALI and in humans with severe sepsis-induced ALI. Elevated total S1PR3 plasma concentrations (> 251 pg/ml) were linked to sepsis and ALI mortality. In vitro EC exposure to barrier-disrupting agents induced S1PR3 nitration and the shedding of S1PR3-containing microparticles, which significantly reduced TER, consistent with increased permeability. These changes were attenuated by reduced S1PR3 expression (small interfering RNAs). These results suggest that microparticles containing nitrated S1PR3 shed into the circulation during inflammatory lung states, and represent a novel ALI biomarker linked to disease severity and outcome.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0048OC
PMCID: PMC3547106  PMID: 22771388
acute lung injury; sphingosine-1–phosphate receptor–3; microparticles; nitration; biomarker
19.  Voltage-Dependent Anion Channel-2 Interaction with Nitric Oxide Synthase Enhances Pulmonary Artery Endothelial Cell Nitric Oxide Production 
Increased pulmonary artery endothelial cell (PAEC) endothelium-dependent nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) activity mediates perinatal pulmonary vasodilation. Compromised eNOS activity is central to the pathogenesis of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Voltage-derived anion channel (VDAC)-1 was recently demonstrated to bind eNOS in the systemic circulation. We hypothesized that VDAC isoforms modulate eNOS activity in the pulmonary circulation, and that decreased VDAC expression contributes to PPHN. In PAECs derived from an ovine model of PPHN: (1) there is eNOS activity, but not expression; and (2) VDAC1 and -2 proteins are decreased. Immunocytochemistry, coimmunoprecipitation, and in situ proximity ligation assays in human PAECs (hPAECs) demonstrate binding between eNOS and both VDAC1 and -2, which increased upon stimulation with NO agonists. The ability of agonists to increase the eNOS/VDAC interaction was significantly blunted in hypertensive, compared with normotensive, ovine PAECs. Depletion of VDAC2, but not VDAC1, blocked the agonist-induced increase in eNOS activity in hPAECs. Overexpression of VDAC2 in hypertensive PAECs increased eNOS activity. Binding of VDAC2 enhances eNOS activity in the pulmonary circulation, and diminished VDAC2 constrains eNOS in PAECs derived from fetal lambs with chronic intrauterine pulmonary hypertension. We speculate that decreases in VDAC2 may contribute to the limited eNOS activity that characterizes pulmonary hypertension.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2011-0436OC
PMCID: PMC3547107  PMID: 22842492
pulmonary hypertension; vasodilation; fetal; protein–protein interactions
20.  CD11c+/CD11b+ Cells Are Critical for Organic Dust–Elicited Murine Lung Inflammation 
Organic dust exposure in the agricultural industry results in significant lung disease. Macrophage infiltrates are increased in the lungs after organic dust exposures, yet the phenotype and functional importance of these cells remain unclear. Using an established intranasal inhalation murine model of dust-induced lung inflammation, animals were treated once or daily for 3 weeks with swine confinement organic dust extract (DE). Repetitive DE treatment for 3 weeks resulted in significant increases in CD11c+/CD11b+ macrophages in whole lung–associated tissue. These cells displayed increased costimulatory molecule (CD80 and CD86) expression, enhanced phagocytic ability, and an increased production of IL-6, CXCL1, and CXCL2. Similar findings were observed with the CD11c+/CD11b+ macrophage infiltrate after repetitive exposure to peptidoglycan, a major DE component. To determine the functional importance of macrophages in mediating DE-induced airway inflammation, lung macrophages were selectively depleted using a well-established intranasal clodronate liposome depletion/suicide strategy. First, macrophage depletion by clodronate liposomes resulted in significant reductions in airway neutrophil influx and TNF-α and IL-6 production after a single exposure to DE. In contrast, after repetitive 3-week exposure to DE, airway lavage fluid and lung tissue neutrophils were significantly increased in clodronate liposome–treated mice compared with control mice. A histological examination of lung tissue demonstrated striking increases in alveolar and bronchiolar inflammation, as well as in the size and distribution of cellular aggregates in clodronate–liposome versus saline–liposome groups repetitively exposed to DE. These studies demonstrate that DE elicits activated CD11c+/CD11b+ macrophages in the lung, which play a critical role in regulating the outcome of DE-induced airway inflammation.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0095OC
PMCID: PMC3547108  PMID: 22822029
macrophage; neutrophil; airway inflammation; peptidoglycan; organic dust
21.  Cooperation between Classical and Alternative NF-κB Pathways Regulates Proinflammatory Responses in Epithelial Cells 
The transcription factor NF-κB has been causally linked to inflammatory lung diseases. Recent studies have unraveled the complexity of NF-κB activation by identifying two parallel activation pathways: the classical NF-κB pathway, which is controlled by IκB kinase complex–β (IKKβ) and RelA/p50, and the alternative pathway, which is controlled by IKKα and RelB/p52. The alternative pathway regulates adaptive immune responses and lymphoid development, yet its role in the regulation of innate immune responses remains largely unknown. In this study, we determined the relevance of the alternative NF-κB pathway in proinflammatory responses in lung epithelial cells. The exposure of C10 murine alveolar lung epithelial cells to diverse stimuli, or primary murine tracheal epithelial cells to LPS, resulted in the activation of both NF-κB pathways, based on the nuclear translocation of RelA, p50, RelB, and p52. Increases in the nuclear content of RelA occurred rapidly, but transiently, whereas increases in nuclear RelB content were protracted. The small interfering (si) RNA–mediated knockdown of IKKα, RelA, or RelB resulted in decreases of multiple LPS-induced proinflammatory cytokines. Surprisingly, the siRNA ablation of IKKα or RelB led to marked increases in the production of IL-6 in response to LPS. The simultaneous expression of constitutively active (CA)-IKKα and CA-IKKβ caused synergistic increases in proinflammatory mediators. Lastly, the disruption of the IKK signalsome inhibited the activation of both NF-κB pathways. These results demonstrate that the coordinated activation of both NF-κB pathways regulates the magnitude and nature of proinflammatory responses in lung epithelial cells.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0014OC
PMCID: PMC3488618  PMID: 22652196
lung; IκB kinase–β; IκB kinase–α; RelA; RelB
22.  Dual Oxidase 2 Bidirectional Promoter Polymorphisms Confer Differential Immune Responses in Airway Epithelia 
The dual oxidase enzymes, DUOX, localized to the respiratory tract epithelium, are important components of innate host defense against bacteria and virus. However, little is known regarding the regulation of DUOX transcription. To better understand DUOX2-mediated mechanisms of antiviral host defense in the airway epithelium, we designed a bidirectional promoter luciferase reporter system to identify important cis-regulatory regions in the human DUOX2/DUOXA2 promoter. In this report, we demonstrate that the genomic region between the translation start sites of DUOX2 and DUOXA2 functions as a bidirectional promoter in human airway tissue. We also identified key regulatory regions on the DUOX2/DUOXA2 promoter that were necessary for both bidirectional and unidirectional transcriptional activity. Importantly, we discovered two functionally important single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the promoter that differentially regulated DUOX2/DUOXA2 transcription in response to exogenous double-stranded DNA. One of these SNPs, rs269855 (enriched in people of African descent), conferred the highest level of DUOX2 promoter activity. The clinical sequelae for individuals who carry this polymorphism remain to be determined.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0037OC
PMCID: PMC3488619  PMID: 22592922
airway; bidirectional promoter; dual oxidase; single-nucleotide polymorphism; virus
23.  Dynamic Regulation of Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor α Expression in Alveolar Fibroblasts during Realveolarization 
Although the importance of platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR)-α signaling during normal alveogenesis is known, it is unclear whether this signaling pathway can regulate realveolarization in the adult lung. During alveolar development, PDGFR-α–expressing cells induce α smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and differentiate to interstitial myofibroblasts. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling regulates myofibroblast differentiation during alveolarization, whereas peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ activation antagonizes myofibroblast differentiation in lung fibrosis. Using left lung pneumonectomy, the roles of FGF and PPAR-γ signaling in differentiation of myofibroblasts from PDGFR-α–positive precursors during compensatory lung growth were assessed. FGF receptor (FGFR) signaling was inhibited by conditionally activating a soluble dominant-negative FGFR2 transgene. PPAR-γ signaling was activated by administration of rosiglitazone. Changes in α-SMA and PDGFR-α protein expression were assessed in PDGFR-α–green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter mice using immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, and real-time PCR. Immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry demonstrated that the cell ratio and expression levels of PDGFR-α–GFP changed dynamically during alveolar regeneration and that α-SMA expression was induced in a subset of PDGFR-α–GFP cells. Expression of a dominant-negative FGFR2 and administration of rosiglitazone inhibited induction of α-SMA in PDGFR-α–positive fibroblasts and formation of new septae. Changes in gene expression of epithelial and mesenchymal signaling molecules were assessed after left lobe pneumonectomy, and results demonstrated that inhibition of FGFR2 signaling and increase in PPAR-γ signaling altered the expression of Shh, FGF, Wnt, and Bmp4, genes that are also important for epithelial–mesenchymal crosstalk during early lung development. Our data demonstrate for the first time that a comparable epithelial–mesenchymal crosstalk regulates fibroblast phenotypes during alveolar septation.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0030OC
PMCID: PMC3488620  PMID: 22652199
progenitor cells; septation; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; wnt; shh
24.  Hydrogen Sulfide Attenuates Particulate Matter–Induced Human Lung Endothelial Barrier Disruption via Combined Reactive Oxygen Species Scavenging and Akt Activation 
Exposure to particulate air pollution is associated with increased cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality, although the pathogenic mechanisms are poorly understood. We previously demonstrated that particulate matter (PM) exposure triggers massive oxidative stress in vascular endothelial cells (ECs), resulting in the loss of EC integrity and lung vascular hyperpermeability. We investigated the protective role of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), an endogenous gaseous molecule present in the circulation, on PM-induced human lung EC barrier disruption and pulmonary inflammation. Alterations in EC monolayer permeability, as reflected by transendothelial electrical resistance (TER), the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and murine pulmonary inflammatory responses, were studied after exposures to PM and NaSH, an H2S donor. Similar to N-acetyl cysteine (5 mM), NaSH (10 μM) significantly scavenged PM-induced EC ROS and inhibited the oxidative activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Concurrent with these events, NaSH (10 μM) activated Akt, which helps maintain endothelial integrity. Both of these pathways contribute to the protective effect of H2S against PM-induced endothelial barrier dysfunction. Furthermore, NaSH (20 mg/kg) reduced vascular protein leakage, leukocyte infiltration, and proinflammatory cytokine release in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids in a murine model of PM-induced lung inflammation. These data suggest a potentially protective role for H2S in PM-induced inflammatory lung injury and vascular hyperpermeability.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2011-0248OC
PMCID: PMC3488621  PMID: 22592920
particulate matter; hydrogen sulfide; endothelial permeability; Akt
25.  Delayed Resolution of Lung Inflammation in Il-1rn−/− Mice Reflects Elevated IL-17A/Granulocyte Colony–Stimulating Factor Expression 
IL-1 has been associated with acute lung injury (ALI) in both humans and animal models, but further investigation of the precise mechanisms involved is needed, and may identify novel therapeutic targets. To discover the IL-1 mediators essential to the initiation and resolution phases of acute lung inflammation, knockout mice (with targeted deletions for either the IL-1 receptor–1, i.e., Il-1r1−/−, or the IL-1 receptor antagonist, i.e., Il-1rn−/−) were exposed to aerosolized LPS, and indices of lung and systemic inflammation were examined over the subsequent 48 hours. The resultant cell counts, histology, protein, and RNA expression of key cytokines were measured. Il-1r1−/− mice exhibited decreased neutrophil influx, particularly at 4 and 48 hours after exposure to LPS, as well as reduced bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) expression of chemokines and granulocyte colony–stimulating factor (G-CSF). On the contrary, Il-1rn−/− mice demonstrated increased BAL neutrophil counts, increased BAL total protein, and greater evidence of histologic injury, all most notably 2 days after LPS exposure. Il-1rn−/− mice also exhibited higher peripheral neutrophil counts and greater numbers of granulocyte receptor-1 cells in their bone marrow, potentially reflecting their elevated plasma G-CSF concentrations. Furthermore, IL-17A expression was increased in the BAL and lungs of Il-1rn−/− mice after exposure to LPS, likely because of increased numbers of γδ T cells in the Il-1rn−/− lungs. Blockade with IL-17A monoclonal antibody before LPS exposure decreased the resultant BAL neutrophil counts and lung G-CSF expression in Il-1rn−/− mice, 48 hours after exposure to LPS. In conclusion, Il-1rn−/− mice exhibit delayed resolution in acute lung inflammation after exposure to LPS, a process that appears to be mediated via the G-CSF/IL-17A axis.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0104OC
PMCID: PMC3488622  PMID: 22592923
IL-1 receptor antagonist; IL-17A; IL-1 receptor–1; acute lung injury

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