Necroptosis has emerged as a potential mechanism in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Here, we found that markers of necroptosis, including high mobility group box 1 release and phosphorylation of mixed lineage kinase domain-like protein (p-MLKL), were markedly induced in the late stage of cigarette smoking–induced (CS-induced) emphysema in mouse lung tissue as well as in lung epithelial cells and organoids with higher dosage of or more prolonged exposure to cigarette smoking extract (CSE). Apoptotic signals were also detected and maximally induced in the early stage of CS-exposed mice and CSE-treated epithelial cells. Inhibition of apoptosis by Z-VAD, a pan-caspase inhibitor, switched the cellular stress to enhanced necroptosis in lung epithelial cells and organoids treated with CSE. Depletion or inhibition of receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIP3) or MLKL attenuated the CSE-induced cell death, suggesting that necroptosis contributes to CSE-induced cell death. Silencing or inhibition of RIP1 had no protective effect, indicating a RIP1-independent RIP3 activation pathway. CSE-induced necroptosis released more damage-associated molecular patterns and evoked greater engulfment but slower clearance by bone marrow–derived macrophages, leading to enhanced expression of proinflammatory cytokines Tnfα and Il6. Finally, our in vivo data verified that inhibition of necroptosis by RIP3 inhibitor GSK’872 protected mice from CS-induced emphysema and suppressed the lung inflammation. In conclusion, we provide evidence that necroptosis contributes to the pathogenesis of COPD. Targeting RIP3 and its downstream pathway may be an effective therapy for COPD.
Dongshi Chen, Alyssa D. Gregory, Xiaoyun Li, Jianxin Wei, Christine L. Burton, Gregory Gibson, Stephen J. Scott, Claudette M. St. Croix, Yingze Zhang, Steven D. Shapiro