Persistent fibrosis in multiple organs is the hallmark of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Recent genetic and genomic studies implicate TLRs and their damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) endogenous ligands in fibrosis. To test the hypothesis that TLR4 and its coreceptor myeloid differentiation 2 (MD2) drive fibrosis persistence, we measured MD2/TLR4 signaling in tissues from patients with fibrotic SSc, and we examined the impact of MD2 targeting using a potentially novel small molecule. Levels of MD2 and TLR4, and a TLR4-responsive gene signature, were enhanced in SSc skin biopsies. We developed a small molecule that selectively blocks MD2, which is uniquely required for TLR4 signaling. Targeting MD2/TLR4 abrogated inducible and constitutive myofibroblast transformation and matrix remodeling in fibroblast monolayers, as well as in 3-D scleroderma skin equivalents and human skin explants. Moreover, the selective TLR4 inhibitor prevented organ fibrosis in several preclinical disease models and mouse strains, and it reversed preexisting fibrosis. Fibroblast-specific deletion of TLR4 in mice afforded substantial protection from skin and lung fibrosis. By comparing experimentally generated fibroblast TLR4 gene signatures with SSc skin biopsy gene expression datasets, we identified a subset of SSc patients displaying an activated TLR4 signature. Together, results from these human and mouse studies implicate MD2/TLR4-dependent fibroblast activation as a key driver of persistent organ fibrosis. The results suggest that SSc patients with high TLR4 activity might show optimal therapeutic response to selective inhibitors of MD2/TLR4 complex formation.
Swati Bhattacharyya, Wenxia Wang, Wenyi Qin, Kui Cheng, Sara Coulup, Sherry Chavez, Shuangshang Jiang, Kirtee Raparia, Lucia Maria V. De Almeida, Christian Stehlik, Zenshiro Tamaki, Hang Yin, John Varga
Recent advances in the management of cystic fibrosis (CF) target underlying defects in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein, but efficacy analyses remain limited to specific genotype–based subgroups. Patient-derived model systems may therefore aid in expanding access to these drugs. Brushed human nasal epithelial cells (HNEs) are an attractive tissue source, but it remains unclear how faithfully they recapitulate human bronchial epithelial cell (HBE) CFTR activity. We examined this gap using paired, brushed HNE/HBE samples from pediatric CF subjects with a wide variety of CFTR mutations cultured at the air-liquid interface. Growth and structural characteristics for the two cell types were similar, including differentiation into mature respiratory epithelia. In electrophysiologic analysis, no correlation was identified between nasal and bronchial cultures in baseline resistance or epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) activity. Conversely, robust correlation was demonstrated between nasal and bronchial cultures in both stimulated and inhibited CFTR activity. There was close correlation in modulator-induced change in CFTR activity, and CFTR activity in both cell types correlated with in vivo sweat chloride measurements. These data confirm that brushed HNE cell cultures recapitulate the functional CFTR characteristics of HBEs with fidelity and are therefore an appropriate noninvasive HBE surrogate for individualized CFTR analysis.
John J. Brewington, Erin T. Filbrandt, F.J. LaRosa III, Jessica D. Moncivaiz, Alicia J. Ostmann, Lauren M. Strecker, John P. Clancy
Studies in human peripheral blood monocyte–derived macrophages in vitro have shown clear evidence that multiple macrophage polarization states exist. The extent to which different alveolar macrophage (AM) polarization states exist in homeostasis or in the setting of severe injury such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is largely unknown. We applied single-cell cytometry TOF (CyTOF) to simultaneously measure 36 cell-surface markers on CD45+ cells present in bronchoalveolar lavage from healthy volunteers, as well as mechanically ventilated subjects with and without ARDS. Visualization of the high-dimensional data with the t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding algorithm demonstrated wide diversity of cell-surface marker profiles among CD33+CD71+CD163+ AMs. We then used a κ-nearest neighbor density estimation algorithm to statistically identify distinct alveolar myeloid subtypes, and we discerned 3 AM subtypes defined by CD169 and PD-L1 surface expression. The percentage of AMs that were classified into one of the 3 AM subtypes was significantly different between healthy and mechanically ventilated subjects. In an independent cohort of subjects with ARDS, PD-L1 gene expression and PD-L1/PD-1 pathway–associated gene sets were significantly decreased in AMs from patients who experienced prolonged mechanical ventilation or death. Unsupervised CyTOF analysis of alveolar leukocytes from human subjects has potential to identify expected and potentially novel myeloid populations that may be linked with clinical outcomes.
Eric D. Morrell, Alice Wiedeman, S. Alice Long, Sina A. Gharib, T. Eoin West, Shawn J. Skerrett, Mark M. Wurfel, Carmen Mikacenic
In patients requiring ventilator support, mechanical ventilation (MV) may induce acute lung injury (ventilator-induced lung injury [VILI]). VILI is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality in mechanically ventilated patients with and without acute respiratory distress syndrome. At the cellular level, VILI induces necrotic cell death. However, the contribution of necroptosis, a programmed form of necrotic cell death regulated by receptor-interacting protein-3 kinase (RIPK3) and mixed-lineage kinase domain-like pseudokinase (MLKL), to the development of VILI remains unexplored. Here, we show that plasma levels of RIPK3, but not MLKL, were higher in patients with MV (i.e., those prone to VILI) than in patients without MV (i.e., those less likely to have VILI) in two large intensive care unit cohorts. In mice, RIPK3 deficiency, but not MLKL deficiency, ameliorated VILI. In both humans and mice, VILI was associated with impaired fatty acid oxidation (FAO), but in mice this association was not observed under conditions of RIPK3 deficiency. These findings suggest that FAO-dependent RIPK3 mediates pathogenesis of acute lung injury.
Ilias I. Siempos, Kevin C. Ma, Mitsuru Imamura, Rebecca M. Baron, Laura E. Fredenburgh, Jin-Won Huh, Jong-Seok Moon, Eli J. Finkelsztein, Daniel S. Jones, Michael Torres Lizardi, Edward J. Schenck, Stefan W. Ryter, Kiichi Nakahira, Augustine M.K. Choi
Fibrosis is the end result of most inflammatory conditions, but its pathogenesis remains unclear. We demonstrate that, in animals and humans with systemic fibrosis, plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) are unaffected or are reduced systemically (spleen/peripheral blood), but they increase in the affected organs (lungs/skin/bronchoalveolar lavage). A pivotal role of pDCs was shown by depleting them in vivo, which ameliorated skin and/or lung fibrosis, reduced immune cell infiltration in the affected organs but not in spleen, and reduced the expression of genes and proteins implicated in chemotaxis, inflammation, and fibrosis in the affected organs of animals with bleomycin-induced fibrosis. As with animal findings, the frequency of pDCs in the lungs of patients with systemic sclerosis correlated with the severity of lung disease and with the frequency of CD4+ and IL-4+ T cells in the lung. Finally, treatment with imatinib that has been reported to reduce and/or prevent deterioration of skin and lung fibrosis profoundly reduced pDCs in lungs but not in peripheral blood of patients with systemic sclerosis. These observations suggest a role for pDCs in the pathogenesis of systemic fibrosis and identify the increased trafficking of pDCs to the affected organs as a potential therapeutic target in fibrotic diseases.
Suzanne Kafaja, Isela Valera, Anagha A. Divekar, Rajan Saggar, Fereidoun Abtin, Daniel E. Furst, Dinesh Khanna, Ram Raj Singh
Secondary bacterial respiratory infections are commonly associated with both acute and chronic lung injury. Influenza complicated by bacterial pneumonia is an effective model to study host defense during pulmonary superinfection due to its clinical relevance. Multiprotein inflammasomes are responsible for IL-1β production in response to infection and drive tissue inflammation. In this study, we examined the role of the inflammasome during viral/bacterial superinfection. We demonstrate that ASC–/– mice are protected from bacterial superinfection and produce sufficient quantities of IL-1β through an apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing CARD (ASC) inflammasome–independent mechanism. Despite the production of IL-1β by ASC–/– mice in response to bacterial superinfection, these mice display decreased lung inflammation. A neutrophil elastase inhibitor blocked ASC inflammasome–independent production of IL-1β and the IL-1 receptor antagonist, anakinra, confirmed that IL-1 remains crucial to the clearance of bacteria during superinfection. Delayed inhibition of NLRP3 during influenza infection by MCC950 decreases bacterial burden during superinfection and leads to decreased inflammatory cytokine production. Collectively, our results demonstrate that ASC augments the clearance of bacteria, but can also contribute to inflammation and mortality. ASC should be considered as a therapeutic target to decrease morbidity and mortality during bacterial superinfection.
Keven M. Robinson, Krishnaveni Ramanan, Michelle E. Clay, Kevin J. McHugh, Matthew J. Pilewski, Kara L. Nickolich, Catherine Corey, Sruti Shiva, Jieru Wang, John F. Alcorn
Hippo/YAP signaling plays pleiotropic roles in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation during organogenesis and tissue repair. Herein we demonstrate increased YAP activity in respiratory epithelial cells in lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a common, lethal form of interstitial lung disease (ILD). Immunofluorescence staining in IPF epithelial cells demonstrated increased nuclear YAP and loss of MST1/2. Bioinformatic analyses of epithelial cell RNA profiles predicted increased activity of YAP and increased canonical mTOR/PI3K/AKT signaling in IPF. Phospho-S6 (p-S6) and p-PTEN were increased in IPF epithelial cells, consistent with activation of mTOR signaling. Expression of YAP (S127A), a constitutively active form of YAP, in human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEC3s) increased p-S6 and p-PI3K, cell proliferation and migration, processes that were inhibited by the YAP-TEAD inhibitor verteporfin. Activation of p-S6 was required for enhancing and stabilizing YAP, and the p-S6 inhibitor temsirolimus blocked nuclear YAP localization and suppressed expression of YAP target genes CTGF, AXL, and AJUBA (JUB). YAP and mTOR/p-S6 signaling pathways interact to induce cell proliferation and migration, and inhibit epithelial cell differentiation that may contribute to the pathogenesis of IPF.
Jason J. Gokey, Anusha Sridharan, Yan Xu, Jenna Green, Gianni Carraro, Barry R. Stripp, Anne-Karina T. Perl, Jeffrey A. Whitsett
Periplakin is a component of the desmosomes that acts as a cytolinker between intermediate filament scaffolding and the desmosomal plaque. Periplakin is strongly expressed by epithelial cells in the lung and is a target antigen for autoimmunity in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The aim of this study was to determine the role of periplakin during lung injury and remodeling in a mouse model of lung fibrosis induced by bleomycin. We found that periplakin expression was downregulated in the whole lung and in alveolar epithelial cells following bleomycin-induced injury. Deletion of the Ppl gene in mice improved survival and reduced lung fibrosis development after bleomycin-induced injury. Notably, Ppl deletion promoted an antiinflammatory alveolar environment linked to profound changes in type 2 alveolar epithelial cells, including overexpression of antiinflammatory cytokines, decreased expression of profibrotic mediators, and altered cell signaling with a reduced response to TGF-β1. These results identify periplakin as a previously unidentified regulator of the response to injury in the lung.
Valérie Besnard, Rania Dagher, Tania Madjer, Audrey Joannes, Madeleine Jaillet, Martin Kolb, Philippe Bonniaud, Lynne A. Murray, Matthew A. Sleeman, Bruno Crestani
Traditional pulmonary therapies for cystic fibrosis (CF) target the downstream effects of CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) dysfunction (the cause of CF). Use of one such therapy, β-adrenergic bronchodilators (such as albuterol), is nearly universal for airway clearance. Conversely, novel modulator therapies restore function to select mutant CFTR proteins, offering a disease-modifying treatment. Recent trials of modulators targeting F508del-CFTR, the most common CFTR mutation, suggest that chronic β-agonist use may undermine clinical modulator benefits. We therefore sought to understand the impact of chronic or excess β-agonist exposure on CFTR activation in human airway epithelium. The present studies demonstrate a greater than 60% reduction in both wild-type and modulator-corrected F508del-CFTR activation following chronic exposure to short- and long-acting β-agonists. This reduction was due to reduced cellular generation of cAMP downstream of the β-2 adrenergic receptor–G protein complex. Our results point towards a posttranscriptional reduction in adenylyl cyclase function as the mechanism of impaired CFTR activation produced by prolonged β-agonist exposure. β-Agonist–induced CFTR dysfunction was sufficient to abrogate VX809/VX770 modulation of F508del-CFTR in vitro. Understanding the clinical relevance of our observations is critical for CF patients using these drugs, and for investigators to inform future CFTR modulator drug trials.
John J. Brewington, Jessica Backstrom, Amanda Feldman, Elizabeth L. Kramer, Jessica D. Moncivaiz, Alicia J. Ostmann, Xiaoting Zhu, L. Jason Lu, John P. Clancy
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a highly prevalent and devastating condition for which no curative treatment is available. Exaggerated lung cell senescence may be a major pathogenic factor. Here, we investigated the potential role for mTOR signaling in lung cell senescence and alterations in COPD using lung tissue and derived cultured cells from patients with COPD and from age- and sex-matched control smokers. Cell senescence in COPD was linked to mTOR activation, and mTOR inhibition by low-dose rapamycin prevented cell senescence and inhibited the proinflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype. To explore whether mTOR activation was a causal pathogenic factor, we developed transgenic mice exhibiting mTOR overactivity in lung vascular cells or alveolar epithelial cells. In this model, mTOR activation was sufficient to induce lung cell senescence and to mimic COPD lung alterations, with the rapid development of lung emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, and inflammation. These findings support a causal relationship between mTOR activation, lung cell senescence, and lung alterations in COPD, thereby identifying the mTOR pathway as a potentially new therapeutic target in COPD.
Amal Houssaini, Marielle Breau, Kanny Kebe, Shariq Abid, Elisabeth Marcos, Larissa Lipskaia, Dominique Rideau, Aurelien Parpaleix, Jin Huang, Valerie Amsellem, Nora Vienney, Pierre Validire, Bernard Maitre, Aya Attwe, Christina Lukas, David Vindrieux, Jorge Boczkowski, Genevieve Derumeaux, Mario Pende, David Bernard, Silke Meiners, Serge Adnot
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