Type II alveolar epithelial cell (AECII) redox imbalance contributes to the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a deadly disease with limited treatment options. Here, we show that expression of membrane-bound cytochrome B5 reductase 3 (CYB5R3), an enzyme critical for maintaining cellular redox homeostasis and soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) heme iron redox state, is diminished in IPF AECIIs. Deficiency of CYB5R3 in AECIIs led to sustained activation of the pro-fibrotic factor TGF-β1 and increased susceptibility to lung fibrosis. We further show that CYB5R3 is a critical regulator of ERK1/2 phosphorylation and the sGC/cGMP/protein kinase G axis that modulates activation of the TGF-β1 signaling pathway. We demonstrate that sGC agonists (BAY 41-8543 and BAY 54-6544) are effective in reducing the pulmonary fibrotic outcomes of in vivo deficiency of CYB5R3 in AECIIs. Taken together, these results show that CYB5R3 in AECIIs is required to maintain resilience after lung injury and fibrosis and that therapeutic manipulation of the sGC redox state could provide a basis for treating fibrotic conditions in the lung and beyond.
Marta Bueno, Jazmin Calyeca, Timur Khaliullin, Megan P. Miller, Diana Alvarez, Lorena Rosas, Judith Brands, Christian Baker, Amro Nasser, Stephanie Shulkowski, August Mathien, Nneoma Uzoukwu, John Sembrat, Brenton G. Mays, Kaitlin Fiedler, Scott A. Hahn, Sonia R. Salvatore, Francisco J. Schopfer, Mauricio Rojas, Peter Sandner, Adam C. Straub, Ana L. Mora