The lung is a relatively quiescent organ during homeostasis, but has a remarkable capacity for repair after injury. Alveolar epithelial type I cells (AEC1s) line airspaces and mediate gas exchange. After injury, they are regenerated by differentiation from their progenitors — alveolar epithelial type II cells (AEC2s) — which also secrete surfactant to maintain surface tension and alveolar patency. While recent studies showed that the maintenance of AEC2 stemness is Wnt dependent, the molecular mechanisms underlying AEC2-AEC1 differentiation in adult lung repair are still incompletely understood. Here we show that WWTR1 (TAZ) plays a crucial role in AEC differentiation. Using an in vitro organoid culture system, we found that tankyrase inhibition can efficiently block AEC2-AEC1 differentiation, and this effect was due to the inhibition of TAZ. In a bleomycin induced lung injury model, conditional deletion of TAZ in AEC2s dramatically reduced AEC1 regeneration during recovery, leading to exacerbated alveolar lesions and fibrosis. In patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), decreased blood levels of RAGE, a biomarker of AEC1 health, were associated with more rapid disease progression. Our findings implicate TAZ as a critical factor involved in AEC2 to AEC1 differentiation, and hence the maintenance of alveolar integrity after injury.
Tianhe Sun, Zhiyu Huang, Hua Zhang, Clara Posner, Guiquan Jia, Thirumalai R. Ramalingam, Min Xu, Hans D. Brightbill, Jackson G. Egen, Anwesha Dey, Joseph R. Arron
Susceptibility to chronic beryllium (Be) disease is linked to HLA-DP molecules possessing a glutamic acid at the 69th position of the β-chain (βGlu69), with the most prevalent βGlu69-containing molecule being HLA-DP2. We have previously shown that HLA-DP2 transgenic (Tg) mice exposed to Be oxide (BeO) develop mononuclear infiltrates in a peribronchovascular distribution and a beryllium-specific, HLA-DP2-restricted CD4+ T cell response. In addition to T cells, B cells constituted a major portion of infiltrated leukocytes in the lung of BeO-exposed HLA-DP2 Tg mice and sequester BeO particles within ectopic lymphoid aggregates and granulomas. B cell depletion was associated with a loss of lymphoid aggregates and granulomas as well as a significant increase in lung injury in BeO-exposed mice. The protective role of B cells was innate in origin, and BeO-induced B cell recruitment to the lung was dependent on MyD88 signaling. Similar to BeO-exposed HLA-DP2 mice, B cells also accumulate in the lungs of CBD subjects, located at the periphery and surrounding the granuloma. Overall, our data suggest a novel modulatory role for B cells in the protection of the lung against sterile particulate exposure, with B cell recruitment to the inflamed lung occurring in an antigen-independent and MyD88-dependent manner.
Shaikh M. Atif, Douglas G. Mack, Amy S. McKee, Javier Rangel-Moreno, Allison K. Martin, Andrew Getahun, Lisa A. Maier, John C. Cambier, Rubin Tuder, Andrew P. Fontenot
Pulmonary fibrosis is a devastating disease characterized by accumulation of activated fibroblasts and scarring in the lung. While fibroblast activation in physiological wound repair reverses spontaneously, fibroblast activation in fibrosis is aberrantly sustained. Here we identified histone 3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me) as a critical epigenetic modification that sustains fibroblast activation by repressing the transcription of genes essential to returning lung fibroblasts to an inactive state. We show that the histone methyltransferase G9a (EHMT2) and chromobox homolog 5 (CBX5, also known as HP1α), which deposit H3K9me marks and assemble an associated repressor complex respectively, are essential to initiation and maintenance of fibroblast activation specifically through epigenetic repression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha gene (PPARGC1A, encoding PGC1α). Both TGFβ and increased matrix stiffness potently inhibit PGC1α expression in lung fibroblasts through engagement of the CBX5/G9a pathway. Inhibition of CBX5/G9a pathway in fibroblasts elevates PGC1α, attenuates TGFβ- and matrix stiffness-promoted H3K9 methylation, and reduces collagen accumulation in the lungs following bleomycin injury. Our results demonstrate that epigenetic silencing mediated by H3K9 methylation is essential for both biochemical and biomechanical fibroblast activation, and that targeting this epigenetic pathway may provide therapeutic benefit by returning lung fibroblasts to quiescence.
Giovanni Ligresti, Nunzia Caporarello, Jeffrey A. Meridew, Dakota L. Jones, Qi Tan, Kyoung Moo Choi, Andrew J. Haak, Aja Aravamudhan, Anja C. Roden, Y. S. Prakash, Gwen Lomberk, Raul A. Urrutia, Daniel J. Tschumperlin
Conjugated bile acids (CBAs), such as tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA), are known to resolve the inflammatory and unfolded protein response (UPR) in inflammatory diseases, such as asthma. Whether CBAs exert their beneficial effects on allergic airway responses via 1 arm or several arms of the UPR, or alternatively through the signaling pathways for conserved bile acid receptor, remains largely unknown. We used a house dust mite–induced (HDM-induced) murine model of asthma to evaluate and compare the effects of 5 CBAs and 1 unconjugated bile acid in attenuating allergen-induced UPR and airway responses. Expression of UPR-associated transcripts was assessed in airway brushings from human patients with asthma and healthy subjects. Here we show that CBAs, such as alanyl β-muricholic acid (AβM) and TUDCA, significantly decreased inflammatory, immune, and cytokine responses; mucus metaplasia; and airway hyperresponsiveness, as compared with other CBAs in a model of allergic airway disease. CBAs predominantly bind to activating transcription factor 6α (ATF6α) compared with the other canonical transducers of the UPR, subsequently decreasing allergen-induced UPR activation and resolving allergic airway disease, without significant activation of the bile acid receptors. TUDCA and AβM also attenuated other HDM-induced ER stress markers in the lungs of allergic mice. Quantitative mRNA analysis of airway epithelial brushings from human subjects demonstrated that several ATF6α-related transcripts were significantly upregulated in patients with asthma compared with healthy subjects. Collectively, these results demonstrate that CBA-based therapy potently inhibits the allergen-induced UPR and allergic airway disease in mice via preferential binding of the canonical transducer of the UPR, ATF6α. These results potentially suggest a novel avenue to treat allergic asthma using select CBAs.
Emily M. Nakada, Nirav R. Bhakta, Bethany R. Korwin-Mihavics, Amit Kumar, Nicolas Chamberlain, Sierra R. Bruno, David G. Chapman, Sidra M. Hoffman, Nirav Daphtary, Minara Aliyeva, Charles G. Irvin, Anne E. Dixon, Prescott G. Woodruff, Shantu Amin, Matthew E. Poynter, Dhimant H. Desai, Vikas Anathy
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
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