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
Wilms’ tumor 1 (WT1) is a critical transcriptional regulator of mesothelial cells during lung development but is downregulated in postnatal stages and adult lungs. We recently showed that WT1 is upregulated in both mesothelial cells and mesenchymal cells in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal fibrotic lung disease. Although WT1-positive cell accumulation leading to severe fibrotic lung disease has been studied, the role of WT1 in fibroblast activation and pulmonary fibrosis remains elusive. Here, we show that WT1 functions as a positive regulator of fibroblast activation, including fibroproliferation, myofibroblast transformation, and extracellular matrix (ECM) production. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments indicate that WT1 binds directly to the promoter DNA sequence of α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) to induce myofibroblast transformation. In support, the genetic lineage tracing identifies WT1 as a key driver of mesothelial-to-myofibroblast and fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transformation. Importantly, the partial loss of WT1 was sufficient to attenuate myofibroblast accumulation and pulmonary fibrosis in vivo. Further, our coculture studies show that WT1 upregulation leads to non–cell autonomous effects on neighboring cells. Thus, our data uncovered a pathogenic role of WT1 in IPF by promoting fibroblast activation in the peripheral areas of the lung and as a target for therapeutic intervention.
Vishwaraj Sontake, Rajesh K. Kasam, Debora Sinner, Thomas R. Korfhagen, Geereddy B. Reddy, Eric S. White, Anil G. Jegga, Satish K. Madala
With more than 150,000 deaths per year in the US alone, lung cancer has the highest number of deaths for any cancer. These poor outcomes reflect a lack of treatment for the most common form of lung cancer, non–small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) is the most prevalent subtype of NSCLC, with the main oncogenic drivers being KRAS and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Whereas EGFR blockade has led to some success in lung ADC, effective KRAS inhibition is lacking. KRAS-mutant ADCs are characterized by high levels of gel-forming mucin expression, with the highest mucin levels corresponding to worse prognoses. Despite these well-recognized associations, little is known about roles for individual gel-forming mucins in ADC development causatively. We hypothesized that MUC5AC/Muc5ac, a mucin gene known to be commonly expressed in NSCLC, is crucial in KRAS/Kras-driven lung ADC. We found that MUC5AC was a significant determinant of poor prognosis, especially in patients with KRAS-mutant tumors. In addition, by using mice with lung ADC induced chemically with urethane or transgenically by mutant-Kras expression, we observed significantly reduced tumor development in animals lacking Muc5ac compared with controls. Collectively, these results provide strong support for MUC5AC as a potential therapeutic target for lung ADC, a disease with few effective treatments.
Alison K. Bauer, Misha Umer, Vanessa L. Richardson, Amber M. Cumpian, Anna Q. Harder, Nasim Khosravi, Zoulikha Azzegagh, Naoko M. Hara, Camille Ehre, Maedeh Mohebnasab, Mauricio S. Caetano, Daniel T. Merrick, Adrie van Bokhoven, Ignacio I. Wistuba, Humam Kadara, Burton F. Dickey, Kalpana Velmurugan, Patrick R. Mann, Xian Lu, Anna E. Barón, Christopher M. Evans, Seyed Javad Moghaddam
BACKGROUND. Disruption of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) anion channel function causes cystic fibrosis (CF), and lung disease produces most of the mortality. Loss of CFTR-mediated HCO3– secretion reduces the pH of airway surface liquid (ASL) in vitro and in neonatal humans and pigs in vivo. However, we previously found that, in older children and adults, ASL pH does not differ between CF and non-CF. Here, we tested whether the pH of CF ASL increases with time after birth. Finding that it did suggested that adaptations by CF airways increase ASL pH. This conjecture predicted that increasing CFTR activity in CF airways would further increase ASL pH and also that increasing CFTR activity would correlate with increases in ASL pH. METHODS. To test for longitudinal changes, we measured ASL pH in newborns and then at 3-month intervals. We also studied people with CF (bearing G551D or R117H mutations), in whom we could acutely stimulate CFTR activity with ivacaftor. To gauge changes in CFTR activity, we measured changes in sweat Cl– concentration immediately before and 48 hours after starting ivacaftor. RESULTS. Compared with that in the newborn period, ASL pH increased by 6 months of age. In people with CF bearing G551D or R117H mutations, ivacaftor did not change the average ASL pH; however reductions in sweat Cl– concentration correlated with elevations of ASL pH. Reductions in sweat Cl– concentration also correlated with improvements in pulmonary function. CONCLUSIONS. Our results suggest that CFTR-independent mechanisms increase ASL pH in people with CF. We speculate that CF airway disease, which begins soon after birth, is responsible for the adaptation. FUNDING. Vertex Inc., the NIH (P30DK089507, 1K08HL135433, HL091842, HL136813, K24HL102246), the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (SINGH17A0 and SINGH15R0), and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Mahmoud H. Abou Alaiwa, Jan L. Launspach, Brenda Grogan, Suzanne Carter, Joseph Zabner, David A. Stoltz, Pradeep K. Singh, Edward F. McKone, Michael J. Welsh
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
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
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
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
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
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
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