The pathogenetic mechanisms underlying the pathologic fibrosis in diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are poorly understood. To identify genetic factors affecting susceptibility to IPF, we analyzed a murine genetic model of IPF in which a profibrotic cytokine (TGF-β1) was expressed in the lungs of 10 different inbred mouse strains. Surprisingly, the extent of TGF-β1–induced lung fibrosis was highly strain dependent. Haplotype-based computational genetic analysis and gene expression profiling of lung tissue obtained from fibrosis-susceptible and -resistant strains identified laminin α1 (Lama1) as a genetic modifier for susceptibility to IPF. Subsequent studies demonstrated that Lama1 plays an important role in multiple processes that affect the pulmonary response to lung injury and susceptibility to fibrosis, which include: macrophage activation, fibroblast proliferation, myofibroblast transformation, and the production of extracellular matrix. Also, Lama1 mRNA expression was significantly increased in lung tissue obtained from IPF patients. These studies identify Lama1 as the genetic modifier of TGF-β1 effector responses that significantly affects the development of pulmonary fibrosis.
Chang-Min Lee, Soo Jung Cho, Won-Kyung Cho, Jin Wook Park, Jae-Hyun Lee, Augustine M. Choi, Ivan O. Rosas, Ming Zheng, Gary Peltz, Chun Geun Lee, Jack A. Elias
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), associated with cigarette smoke–induced (CS-induced) emphysema, contributes significantly to the global health care burden of disease. Although chronic kidney disease (CKD) may occur in patients with COPD, the relationship between COPD and CKD remains unclear. Using a murine model of experimental COPD, we show that chronic CS exposure resulted in marked kidney injury and fibrosis, as evidenced by histological and ultrastructural changes, altered macrophage subpopulations, and expression of tissue injury, fibrosis, and oxidative stress markers. CS induced mitochondrial dysfunction, and increased autophagic flux in kidney tissues and in kidney tubular epithelial (HK-2) cells, as determined by LC3B turnover assays. Mice heterozygous for Beclin-1 (Becn1+/–) were protected from the development of kidney tissue injury and renal fibrosis in response to CS exposure, and displayed impaired basal and inducible mitochondrial turnover by mitophagy. Interestingly, CS caused a reduction of Beclin-1 expression in mouse kidneys and kidney tubular epithelial cells, attributed to increased autophagy-dependent turnover of Beclin-1. These results suggest that Beclin-1 is required for CS-induced kidney injury and that reduced levels of Beclin-1 may confer renoprotection. These results identify the kidney as a target for CS-induced injury in COPD and the Beclin-1–dependent autophagy pathway as a potential therapeutic target in CKD.
Maria A. Pabón, Edwin Patino, Divya Bhatia, Jocelyn Quintero, Kevin C. Ma, Eli J. Finkelsztein, Juan C. Osorio, Faryal Malick, Francesca Polverino, Caroline A. Owen, Stefan W. Ryter, Augustine M.K. Choi, Suzanne M. Cloonan, Mary E. Choi
Pneumonia represents the leading infectious cause of death in the United States. Foxp3+ regulatory T cells promote recovery from severe pneumonia in mice, but T cell responses in patients with pneumonia remain incompletely characterized because of the limited ability to serially sample the distal airspaces and perform multidimensional molecular assessments on the small numbers of recovered cells. As T cell function is governed by their transcriptional and epigenetic landscape, we developed a method to safely perform high-resolution transcriptional and DNA methylation profiling of T cell subsets from the alveoli of critically ill patients. Our method involves nonbronchoscopic bronchoalveolar lavage combined with multiparameter fluorescence-activated cell sorting, unsupervised low-input RNA-sequencing, and a modified reduced-representation bisulfite sequencing protocol. Here, we demonstrate the safety and feasibility of our method and use it to validate functional genomic elements that were predicted by mouse models. Because of its potential for widespread application, our techniques allow unprecedented insights into the biology of human pneumonia.
James M. Walter, Kathryn A. Helmin, Hiam Abdala-Valencia, Richard G. Wunderink, Benjamin D. Singer
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic interstitial lung disease causing fibrotic remodeling of the peripheral lung, leading to respiratory failure. Peripheral pulmonary epithelial cells lose normal alveolar epithelial gene expression patterns and variably express genes associated with diverse conducting airway epithelial cells, including basal cells. Single-cell RNA sequencing of pulmonary epithelial cells isolated from IPF lung tissue demonstrated altered expression of LncRNAs, including increased MEG3. MEG3 RNA was highly expressed in subsets of the atypical IPF epithelial cells and correlated with conducting airway epithelial gene expression patterns. Expression of MEG3 in human pulmonary epithelial cell lines increased basal cell–associated RNAs, including TP63, KRT14, STAT3, and YAP1, and enhanced cell migration, consistent with a role for MEG3 in regulating basal cell identity. MEG3 reduced expression of TP73, SOX2, and Notch-associated RNAs HES1 and HEY1, in primary human bronchial epithelial cells, demonstrating a role for MEG3 in the inhibition of genes influencing basal cell differentiation into club, ciliated, or goblet cells. MEG3 induced basal cell genes and suppressed genes associated with terminal differentiation of airway cells, supporting a role for MEG3 in regulation of basal progenitor cell functions, which may contribute to tissue remodeling in IPF.
Jason J. Gokey, John Snowball, Anusha Sridharan, Joseph P. Speth, Katharine E. Black, Lida P. Hariri, Anne-Karina T. Perl, Yan Xu, Jeffrey A. Whitsett
The respiratory tract is normally kept essentially free of bacteria by cilia-mediated mucus transport, but in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF), bacteria and mucus accumulates instead. To address the mechanisms behind the mucus accumulation, the proteome of bronchoalveolar lavages from COPD patients and mucus collected in an elastase-induced mouse model of COPD was analyzed, revealing similarities with each other and with the protein content in colonic mucus. Moreover, stratified laminated sheets of mucus were observed in airways from patients with CF and COPD and in elastase-exposed mice. On the other hand, the mucus accumulation in the elastase model was reduced in Muc5b-KO mice. While mucus plugs were removed from airways by washing with hypertonic saline in the elastase model, mucus remained adherent to epithelial cells. Bacteria were trapped on this mucus, whereas, in non–elastase-treated mice, bacteria were found on the epithelial cells. We propose that the adherence of mucus to epithelial cells observed in CF, COPD, and the elastase-induced mouse model of COPD separates bacteria from the surface cells and, thus, protects the respiratory epithelium.
Joan Antoni Fernández-Blanco, Dalia Fakih, Liisa Arike, Ana M. Rodríguez-Piñeiro, Beatriz Martínez-Abad, Elin Skansebo, Sonya Jackson, James Root, Dave Singh, Christopher McCrae, Christopher M. Evans, Annika Åstrand, Anna Ermund, Gunnar C. Hansson
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) is a dynamic and complex tissue involved in regulation of bronchomotor tone, but the molecular events essential for the maintenance of ASM homeostasis are not well understood. Observational and genome-wide association studies in humans have linked airway function to the nutritional status of vitamin A and its bioactive metabolite retinoic acid (RA). Here, we provide evidence that ongoing RA signaling is critical for the regulation of adult ASM phenotype. By using dietary, pharmacologic, and genetic models in mice and humans, we show that (a) RA signaling is active in adult ASM in the normal lung, (b) RA-deficient ASM cells are hypertrophic, hypercontractile, profibrotic, but not hyperproliferative, (c) TGF-β signaling, known to cause ASM hypertrophy and airway fibrosis in human obstructive lung diseases, is hyperactivated in RA-deficient ASM, (d) pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of the TGF-β activity in ASM prevents the development of the aberrant phenotype induced by RA deficiency, and (e) the consequences of transient RA deficiency in ASM are long-lasting. These results indicate that RA signaling actively maintains adult ASM homeostasis, and disruption of RA signaling leads to aberrant ASM phenotypes similar to those seen in human chronic airway diseases such as asthma.
Felicia Chen, Fengzhi Shao, Anne Hinds, Sean Yao, Sumati Ram-Mohan, Timothy A. Norman, Ramaswamy Krishnan, Alan Fine
ER stress in type II alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) is common in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), but the contribution of ER stress to lung fibrosis is poorly understood. We found that mice deficient in C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), an ER stress–regulated transcription factor, were protected from lung fibrosis and AEC apoptosis in 3 separate models where substantial ER stress was identified. In mice treated with repetitive intratracheal bleomycin, we identified localized hypoxia in type II AECs as a potential mechanism explaining ER stress. To test the role of hypoxia in lung fibrosis, we treated mice with bleomycin, followed by exposure to 14% O2, which exacerbated ER stress and lung fibrosis. Under these experimental conditions, CHOP–/– mice, but not mice with epithelial HIF (HIF1/HIF2) deletion, were protected from AEC apoptosis and fibrosis. In vitro studies revealed that CHOP regulates hypoxia-induced apoptosis in AECs via the inositol-requiring enzyme 1α (IRE1α) and the PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) pathways. In human IPF lungs, CHOP and hypoxia markers were both upregulated in type II AECs, supporting a conclusion that localized hypoxia results in ER stress–induced CHOP expression, thereby augmenting type II AEC apoptosis and potentiating lung fibrosis.
Ankita Burman, Jonathan A. Kropski, Carla L. Calvi, Ana P. Serezani, Bruno D. Pascoalino, Wei Han, Taylor Sherrill, Linda Gleaves, William E. Lawson, Lisa R. Young, Timothy S. Blackwell, Harikrishna Tanjore
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is characterized by an excessive pulmonary inflammatory response. Removal of excess cholesterol from the plasma membrane of inflammatory cells helps reduce their activation. The secreted apolipoprotein A-I binding protein (AIBP) has been shown to augment cholesterol efflux from endothelial cells to the plasma lipoprotein HDL. Here, we find that AIBP was expressed in inflammatory cells in the human lung and was secreted into the bronchoalveolar space in mice subjected to inhalation of LPS. AIBP bound surfactant protein B and increased cholesterol efflux from alveolar macrophages to calfactant, a therapeutic surfactant formulation. In vitro, AIBP in the presence of surfactant reduced LPS-induced p65, ERK1/2 and p38 phosphorylation, and IL-6 secretion by alveolar macrophages. In vivo, inhalation of AIBP significantly reduced LPS-induced airspace neutrophilia, alveolar capillary leak, and secretion of IL-6. These results suggest that, similar to HDL in plasma, surfactant serves as a cholesterol acceptor in the lung. Furthermore, lung injury increases pulmonary AIBP expression, which likely serves to promote cholesterol efflux to surfactant and reduce inflammation.
Soo-Ho Choi, Aaron M. Wallace, Dina A. Schneider, Elianne Burg, Jungsu Kim, Elena Alekseeva, Niki D.J. Ubags, Carlyne D. Cool, Longhou Fang, Benjamin T. Suratt, Yury I. Miller
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) shares biologic features with rhinovirus (RV). In 2014, a nationwide outbreak of EV-D68 was associated with severe asthma-like symptoms. We sought to develop a mouse model of EV-D68 infection and determine the mechanisms underlying airway disease. BALB/c mice were inoculated intranasally with EV-D68 (2014 isolate), RV-A1B, or sham, alone or in combination with anti–IL-17A or house dust mite (HDM) treatment. Like RV-A1B, lung EV-D68 viral RNA peaked 12 hours after infection. EV-D68 induced airway inflammation, expression of cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-12b, IL-17A, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL10, and CCL2), and airway hyperresponsiveness, which were suppressed by anti–IL-17A antibody. Neutrophilic inflammation and airway responsiveness were significantly higher after EV-D68 compared with RV-A1B infection. Flow cytometry showed increased lineage–, NKp46–, RORγt+ IL-17+ILC3s and γδ T cells in the lungs of EV-D68–treated mice compared with those in RV-treated mice. EV-D68 infection of HDM-exposed mice induced additive or synergistic increases in BAL neutrophils and eosinophils and expression of IL-17, CCL11, IL-5, and Muc5AC. Finally, patients from the 2014 epidemic period with EV-D68 showed significantly higher nasopharyngeal IL-17 mRNA levels compared with patients with RV-A infection. EV-D68 infection induces IL-17–dependent airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness, which is greater than that generated by RV-A1B, consistent with the clinical picture of severe asthma-like symptoms.
Charu Rajput, Mingyuan Han, J. Kelley Bentley, Jing Lei, Tomoko Ishikawa, Qian Wu, Joanna L. Hinde, Amy P. Callear, Terri L. Stillwell, William T. Jackson, Emily T. Martin, Marc B. Hershenson
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating fibrotic lung disease of unknown etiology and limited therapeutic options. In this report, we characterize what we believe is a novel CCR10+ epithelial cell population in IPF lungs. There was a significant increase in the percentage of CCR10+ epithelial cells in IPF relative to normal lung explants and their numbers significantly correlated to lung remodeling in humanized NSG mice. Cultured CCR10-enriched IPF epithelial cells promoted IPF lung fibroblast invasion and collagen 1 secretion. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis showed distinct CCR10+ epithelial cell populations enriched for inflammatory and profibrotic transcripts. Consistently, cultured IPF but not normal epithelial cells induced lung remodeling in humanized NSG mice, where the number of CCR10+ IPF, but not normal, epithelial cells correlated with hydroxyproline concentration in the remodeled NSG lungs. A subset of IPF CCR10hi epithelial cells coexpress EphA3 and ephrin A signaling induces the expression of CCR10 by these cells. Finally, EphA3+CCR10hi epithelial cells induce more consistent lung remodeling in NSG mice relative to EphA3–CCR10lo epithelial cells. Our results suggest that targeting epithelial cells, highly expressing CCR10, may be beneficial in IPF.
David M. Habiel, Milena S. Espindola, Isabelle C. Jones, Ana Lucia Coelho, Barry Stripp, Cory M. Hogaboam
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