Fibrosis is a hallmark in the pathogenesis of various diseases, with very limited therapeutic solutions. A key event in the fibrotic process is the expression of contractile proteins, including α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) by fibroblasts, which become myofibroblasts. Here, we report the results of a high-throughput screening of a library of approved drugs that led to the discovery of haloperidol, a common antipsychotic drug, as a potent inhibitor of myofibroblast activation. We show that haloperidol exerts its antifibrotic effect on primary murine and human fibroblasts by binding to sigma receptor 1, independent from the canonical transforming growth factor-β signaling pathway. Its mechanism of action involves the modulation of intracellular calcium, with moderate induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress response, which in turn abrogates Notch1 signaling and the consequent expression of its targets, including αSMA. Importantly, haloperidol also reduced the fibrotic burden in 3 different animal models of lung, cardiac, and tumor-associated fibrosis, thus supporting the repurposing of this drug for the treatment of fibrotic conditions.
Michael Rehman, Simone Vodret, Luca Braga, Corrado Guarnaccia, Fulvio Celsi, Giulia Rossetti, Valentina Martinelli, Tiziana Battini, Carlin Long, Kristina Vukusic, Tea Kocijan, Chiara Collesi, Nadja Ring, Natasa Skoko, Mauro Giacca, Giannino Del Sal, Marco Confalonieri, Marcello Raspa, Alessandro Marcello, Michael P. Myers, Sergio Crovella, Paolo Carloni, Serena Zacchigna
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterized by increased mucus viscosity and delayed mucociliary clearance that contributes to progressive decline of lung function. Mucus in the respiratory and GI tract is excessively adhesive in the presence of airway dehydration and excess extracellular Ca2+ upon mucin release, promoting hyperviscous, densely packed mucins characteristic of CF. Therapies that target mucins directly through ionic interactions remain unexploited. Here we show that poly (acetyl, arginyl) glucosamine (PAAG), a polycationic biopolymer suitable for human use, interacts directly with mucins in a Ca2+-sensitive manner to reduce CF mucus viscoelasticity and improve its transport. Notably, PAAG induced a linear structure of purified MUC5B and altered its sedimentation profile and viscosity, indicative of proper mucin expansion. In vivo, PAAG nebulization improved mucociliary transport in CF rats with delayed mucus clearance, and cleared mucus plugging in CF ferrets. This study demonstrates the potential use of a synthetic glycopolymer PAAG as a molecular agent that could benefit patients with a broad array of mucus diseases.
Courtney M. Fernandez-Petty, Gareth W. Hughes, Hannah L. Bowers, John D. Watson, Bradley H. Rosen, Stacy M. Townsend, Carlo Santos, Caroline E. Ridley, Kengyeh K. Chu, Yao Li, Hui Min Leung, Bryan A. Garcia, T. Idil Apak Evans, Emily Falk Libby, Heather Hathorne, Justin Hanes, Guillermo J. Tearney, John F. Engelhardt, William E. Swords, David J. Thornton, William P. Wiesmann, Shenda M. Baker, Steven M. Rowe
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive disease, with a median survival of 3–5 years following diagnosis. Lung remodeling by invasive fibroblasts is a hallmark of IPF. In this study, we demonstrate that inhibition of vimentin intermediate filaments (VimIFs) decreases the invasiveness of IPF fibroblasts and confers protection against fibrosis in a murine model of experimental lung injury. Increased expression and organization of VimIFs contribute to the invasive property of IPF fibroblasts in connection with deficient cellular autophagy. Blocking VimIF assembly by pharmacologic and genetic means also increases autophagic clearance of collagen type I. Furthermore, inhibition of expression of collagen type I by siRNA decreased invasiveness of fibroblasts. In a bleomycin injury model, enhancing autophagy in fibroblasts by an inhibitor of VimIF assembly, withaferin A (WFA), protected from fibrotic lung injury. Additionally, in 3D lung organoids, or pulmospheres, from patients with IPF, WFA reduced the invasiveness of lung fibroblasts in the majority of subjects tested. These studies provide insights into the functional role of vimentin, which regulates autophagy and restricts the invasiveness of lung fibroblasts.
Ranu Surolia, Fu Jun Li, Zheng Wang, Huashi Li, Kevin Dsouza, Vinoy Thomas, Sergey Mirov, Dolores Pérez-Sala, Mohammad Athar, Victor J. Thannickal, Veena B. Antony
Many lung diseases result from a failure of efficient regeneration of damaged alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) after lung injury. During regeneration, AEC2s proliferate to replace lost cells, after which proliferation halts and some AEC2s transdifferentiate into AEC1s to restore normal alveolar structure and function. Although the mechanisms underlying AEC2 proliferation have been studied, the mechanisms responsible for halting proliferation and inducing transdifferentiation are poorly understood. To identify candidate signaling pathways responsible for halting proliferation and inducing transdifferentiation, we performed single cell RNA sequencing on AEC2s during regeneration in a murine model of lung injury induced by intratracheal LPS. Unsupervised clustering revealed distinct subpopulations of regenerating AEC2s: proliferating, cell cycle arrest, and transdifferentiating. Gene expression analysis of these transitional subpopulations revealed that TGFβ signaling was highly upregulated in the cell cycle arrest subpopulation and relatively downregulated in transdifferentiating cells. In cultured AEC2s, TGFβ was necessary for cell cycle arrest but impeded transdifferentiation. We conclude that during regeneration after LPS-induced lung injury, TGFβ is a critical signal halting AEC2 proliferation but must be inactivated to allow transdifferentiation. This study provides insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating alveolar regeneration and the pathogenesis of diseases resulting from a failure of regeneration.
Kent A. Riemondy, Nicole L. Jansing, Peng Jiang, Elizabeth F. Redente, Austin E. Gillen, Rui Fu, Alyssa J. Miller, Jason R. Spence, Anthony N. Gerber, Jay R. Hesselberth, Rachel L. Zemans
INTRODUCTION. A local renin-angiotensin system exists in the pulmonary nodules of lymphangioleiomyomatosis patients. Sirolimus, the standard treatment for lymphangioleiomyomatosis, stabilizes lung function, but all patients do not respond to or tolerate sirolimus. As renin-angiotensin systems may affect tumor growth and metastasis, we questioned if angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors affected lymphangioleiomyomatosis disease progression. METHODS. Retrospective study of 426 patients was performed, examining angiotensin-converting enzyme levels, pulmonary function data, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor treatment. RESULTS. Serum angiotensin-converting enzyme levels were elevated in approximately 33% of patients, increased with duration of disease, and were inversely correlated with pulmonary function. Levels decreased significantly over time with sirolimus treatment. Treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors was reported by approximately 15% of patients and was significantly associated with a slower rate of decline in percentage predicted forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide (DLCO) in patients not treated with sirolimus. No significant differences in rates of decline of FEV1 or DLCO were seen in patients treated with both inhibitors and sirolimus versus sirolimus alone. CONCLUSIONS. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors may slow decline of pulmonary function in patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis not treated with sirolimus. These inhibitors may be an option or adjunct in the treatment of lymphangioleiomyomatosis. A clinical trial may be warranted to examine this possibility. FUNDING. NIH.
Wendy K. Steagall, Mario Stylianou, Gustavo Pacheco-Rodriguez, Joel Moss
Newly emerging viruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome CoVs (MERS-CoV), and H7N9, cause fatal acute lung injury (ALI) by driving hypercytokinemia and aggressive inflammation through mechanisms that remain elusive. In SARS-CoV/macaque models, we determined that anti–spike IgG (S-IgG), in productively infected lungs, causes severe ALI by skewing inflammation-resolving response. Alveolar macrophages underwent functional polarization in acutely infected macaques, demonstrating simultaneously both proinflammatory and wound-healing characteristics. The presence of S-IgG prior to viral clearance, however, abrogated wound-healing responses and promoted MCP1 and IL-8 production and proinflammatory monocyte/macrophage recruitment and accumulation. Critically, patients who eventually died of SARS (hereafter referred to as deceased patients) displayed similarly accumulated pulmonary proinflammatory, absence of wound-healing macrophages, and faster neutralizing antibody responses. Their sera enhanced SARS-CoV–induced MCP1 and IL-8 production by human monocyte–derived wound-healing macrophages, whereas blockade of FcγR reduced such effects. Our findings reveal a mechanism responsible for virus-mediated ALI, define a pathological consequence of viral specific antibody response, and provide a potential target for treatment of SARS-CoV or other virus-mediated lung injury.
Li Liu, Qiang Wei, Qingqing Lin, Jun Fang, Haibo Wang, Hauyee Kwok, Hangying Tang, Kenji Nishiura, Jie Peng, Zhiwu Tan, Tongjin Wu, Ka-Wai Cheung, Kwok-Hung Chan, Xavier Alvarez, Chuan Qin, Andrew Lackner, Stanley Perlman, Kwok-Yung Yuen, Zhiwei Chen
Acute respiratory distress syndrome is an often fatal disease that develops after acute lung injury and trauma. How released tissue damage signals, or alarmins, orchestrate early inflammatory events is poorly understood. Herein we reveal that IL-33, an alarmin sequestered in the lung epithelium, is required to limit inflammation after injury due to an unappreciated capacity to mediate Foxp3+ Treg control of local cytokines and myeloid populations. Specifically, Il33–/– mice are more susceptible to lung damage-associated morbidity and mortality that is typified by augmented levels of the proinflammatory cytokines and Ly6Chi monocytes in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Local delivery of IL-33 at the time of injury is protective, but requires the presence of Treg cells. IL-33 stimulates both mouse and human Treg to secrete IL-13. Using Foxp3Cre x Il4/Il13fl/fl mice, we show that Treg expression of IL-13 is required to prevent mortality after acute lung injury by controlling local levels of G-CSF, IL-6, and MCP-1 and inhibiting accumulation of Ly6Chi monocytes. Our study identifies a new regulatory mechanism involving IL-33 and Treg secretion of IL-13 in response to tissue damage that is instrumental in limiting local inflammatory responses and may shape the myeloid compartment after lung injury.
Quan Liu, Gaelen K. Dwyer, Yifei Zhao, Huihua Li, Lisa R. Mathews, Anish Bhaswanth Chakka, Uma R. Chandran, Jake A. Demetris, John F. Alcorn, Keven M. Robinson, Luis A. Ortiz, Bruce Pitt, Angus W. Thomson, Ming-Hui Fan, Timothy R. Billiar, Heth R. Turnquist
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive disease with unremitting extracellular matrix deposition, leading to a distortion of pulmonary architecture and impaired gas exchange. Fibroblasts from IPF patients acquire an invasive phenotype that is essential for progressive fibrosis. Here, we performed RNA-seq analysis on invasive and non-invasive fibroblasts and found that the immune checkpoint ligand CD274 (PD-L1) was up-regulated on invasive lung fibroblasts and was required for the invasive phenotype of lung fibroblasts, is regulated by P53 and FAK, and drives lung fibrosis in a humanized IPF model in mice. Activating CD274 in IPF fibroblasts promoted invasion in vitro and pulmonary fibrosis in vivo. CD274 knockout in IPF fibroblasts and targeting CD274 by FAK inhibition or CD274 neutralizing antibodies blunted invasion and attenuated fibrosis, suggesting that CD274 may be a novel therapeutic target in IPF.
Yan Geng, Xue Liu, Jiurong Liang, David M. Habiel, Kulur Vrishika, Ana Lucia Coelho, Nan Deng, Ting Xie, Yizhou Wang, Ningshan Liu, Guanling Huang, Adrianne Kurkciyan, Zhenqiu Liu, Jie Tang, Cory M. Hogaboam, Dianhua Jiang, Paul W. Noble
Recovery from acute lung injury (ALI) is an active process. Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) contribute to recovery from ALI through modulating immune responses and enhancing alveolar epithelial proliferation and tissue repair. The current study investigates Treg transcriptional profiles during resolution of ALI in mice. Tregs from either lung or splenic tissue were isolated from uninjured mice or mice recovering from ALI and then examined for differential gene expression between these conditions. In mice with ALI, Tregs isolated from the lungs had hundreds of differentially expressed transcripts compared to those from the spleen, indicating that organ-specificity and microenvironment are critical in Treg function. These regulated transcripts suggest which intracellular signaling pathways modulate Treg behavior. Interestingly, several transcripts having no prior recognized function in Tregs were differentially expressed by lung Tregs during resolution. Further investigation into two identified transcripts, Mmp12 and Sik1, revealed that Treg-specific expression of each play a role in Treg-promoted ALI resolution. This study provides novel information describing the signals that may expand resident Tregs, recruit or retain them to the lung during ALI, and modulate their function. The results provide insight into both tissue- and immune microenvironment-specific transcriptional differences through which Tregs direct their effects.
Jason R. Mock, Catherine F. Dial, Miriya K. Tune, Dustin L. Norton, Jessica R. Martin, John C. Gomez, Robert S. Hagan, Hong Dang, Claire M. Doerschuk
Although Type-2 (T2) induced epithelial dysfunction is likely to profoundly alter epithelial differentiation and repair in asthma, the mechanisms for these effects are poorly understood. A role for specific mucins, heavily N-glycosylated epithelial glycoproteins, in orchestrating epithelial cell fate in response to T2 stimuli has not previously been investigated. Levels of a sialylated MUC4β isoform were found to be increased in airway specimens from asthmatic patients, in association with T2 inflammation. We hypothesized that IL-13 would increase sialylation of MUC4β, thereby altering its function and that the β-galactoside α-2,6-sialyltranferase 1 (ST6GAL1) would regulate the sialylation. Using human biologic specimens and cultured primary human airway epithelial cells (HAECs), we demonstrated that IL-13 increased sialylation of MUC4β under control of ST6GAL1, and that both were increased in asthma, particularly in those with elevated T2 biomarkers. ST6GAL1 induced sialylation of MUC4β altered its lectin binding and secretion. Both ST6GAL1 and MUC4β inhibited epithelial cell proliferation while promoting goblet cell differentiation. These in vivo and in vitro data provide strong evidence for a critical role for ST6GAL1 induced sialylation of MUC4β in epithelial dysfunction associated with T2-High asthma, thereby identifying specific sialylation pathways as potential targets in asthma.
Xiuxia Zhou, Carol L. Kinlough, Rebecca P. Hughey, Mingzhu Jin, Hideki Inoue, Emily Etling, Brian D. Modena, Naftali Kaminski, Eugene R. Bleecker, Deborah A. Meyers, Nizar N. Jarjour, John B. Trudeau, Fernando Holguin, Anuradha Ray, Sally E. Wenzel
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