Fibrotic lung disease, most notably idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), is thought to result from aberrant wound-healing responses to repetitive lung injury. Increased vascular permeability is a cardinal response to tissue injury, but whether it is mechanistically linked to lung fibrosis is unknown. We previously described a model in which exaggeration of vascular leak after lung injury shifts the outcome of wound-healing responses from normal repair to pathological fibrosis. Here we report that the fibrosis produced in this model is highly dependent on thrombin activity and its downstream signaling pathways. Direct thrombin inhibition with dabigatran significantly inhibited protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR1) activation, integrin αvβ6 induction, TGF-β activation, and the development of pulmonary fibrosis in this vascular leak–dependent model. We used a potentially novel imaging method — ultashort echo time (UTE) lung magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the gadolinium-based, fibrin-specific probe EP-2104R — to directly visualize fibrin accumulation in injured mouse lungs, and to correlate the antifibrotic effects of dabigatran with attenuation of fibrin deposition. We found that inhibition of the profibrotic effects of thrombin can be uncoupled from inhibition of hemostasis, as therapeutic anticoagulation with warfarin failed to downregulate the PAR1/αvβ6/TGF-β axis or significantly protect against fibrosis. These findings have direct and important clinical implications, given recent findings that warfarin treatment is not beneficial in IPF, and the clinical availability of direct thrombin inhibitors that our data suggest could benefit these patients.
Barry S. Shea, Clemens K. Probst, Patricia L. Brazee, Nicholas J. Rotile, Francesco Blasi, Paul H. Weinreb, Katharine E. Black, David E. Sosnovik, Elizabeth M. Van Cott, Shelia M. Violette, Peter Caravan, Andrew M. Tager
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a life-threatening disease without effective treatment, highlighting the need for identifying new targets and treatment modalities. The pathogenesis of IPF is complex, and engaging multiple targets simultaneously might improve therapeutic efficacy. To assess the role of the endocannabinoid/cannabinoid receptor 1 (endocannabinoid/CB1R) system in IPF and its interaction with inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) as dual therapeutic targets, we analyzed lung fibrosis and the status of the endocannabinoid/CB1R system and iNOS in mice with bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and in lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from patients with IPF, as well as controls. In addition, we investigated the antifibrotic efficacy in the mouse PF model of an orally bioavailable and peripherally restricted CB1R/iNOS hybrid inhibitor. We report that increased activity of the endocannabinoid/CB1R system parallels disease progression in the lungs of patients with idiopathic PF and in mice with bleomycin-induced PF and is associated with increased tissue levels of interferon regulatory factor-5. Furthermore, we demonstrate that simultaneous engagement of the secondary target iNOS by the hybrid CB1R/iNOS inhibitor has greater antifibrotic efficacy than inhibition of CB1R alone. This hybrid antagonist also arrests the progression of established fibrosis in mice, thus making it a viable candidate for future translational studies in IPF.
Resat Cinar, Bernadette R. Gochuico, Malliga R. Iyer, Tony Jourdan, Tadafumi Yokoyama, Joshua K. Park, Nathan J. Coffey, Hadass Pri-Chen, Gergő Szanda, Ziyi Liu, Ken Mackie, William A. Gahl, George Kunos
Influenza A virus (IAV) infections lead to severe inflammation in the airways. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characteristically have exaggerated airway inflammation and are more susceptible to infections with severe symptoms and increased mortality. The mechanisms that control inflammation during IAV infection and the mechanisms of immune dysregulation in COPD are unclear. We found that IAV infections lead to increased inflammatory and antiviral responses in primary bronchial epithelial cells (pBECs) from healthy nonsmoking and smoking subjects. In pBECs from COPD patients, infections resulted in exaggerated inflammatory but deficient antiviral responses. A20 is an important negative regulator of NF-κB–mediated inflammatory but not antiviral responses, and A20 expression was reduced in COPD. IAV infection increased the expression of miR-125a or -b, which directly reduced the expression of A20 and mitochondrial antiviral signaling (MAVS), and caused exaggerated inflammation and impaired antiviral responses. These events were replicated in vivo in a mouse model of experimental COPD. Thus, miR-125a or -b and A20 may be targeted therapeutically to inhibit excessive inflammatory responses and enhance antiviral immunity in IAV infections and in COPD.
Alan C-Y. Hsu, Kamal Dua, Malcolm R. Starkey, Tatt-Jhong Haw, Prema M. Nair, Kristy Nichol, Nathan Zammit, Shane T. Grey, Katherine J. Baines, Paul S. Foster, Philip M. Hansbro, Peter A. Wark
In cystic fibrosis (CF), airway mucus becomes thick and viscous, and its clearance from the airways is impaired. The gel-forming mucins undergo an ordered “unpacking/maturation” process after granular release that requires an optimum postsecretory environment, including hydration and pH. We hypothesized that this unpacking process is compromised in the CF lung due to abnormal transepithelial fluid transport that reduces airway surface hydration and alters ionic composition. Using human tracheobronchial epithelial cells derived from non-CF and CF donors and mucus samples from human subjects and domestic pigs, we investigated the process of postsecretory mucin unfolding/maturation, how these processes are defective in CF airways, and the probable mechanism underlying defective unfolding. First, we found that mucins released into a normal lung environment transform from a compact granular form to a linear form. Second, we demonstrated that this maturation process is defective in the CF airway environment. Finally, we demonstrated that independent of HCO3− and pH levels, airway surface dehydration was the major determinant of this abnormal unfolding process. This defective unfolding/maturation process after granular release suggests that the CF extracellular environment is ion/water depleted and likely contributes to abnormal mucus properties in CF airways prior to infection and inflammation.
Lubna H. Abdullah, Jessica R. Evans, T. Tiffany Wang, Amina A. Ford, Alexander M. Makhov, Kristine Nguyen, Raymond D. Coakley, Jack D. Griffith, C. William Davis, Stephen T. Ballard, Mehmet Kesimer
Accumulating evidence suggests that altered cellular metabolism is systemic in pulmonary hypertension (PH) and central to disease pathogenesis. However, bioenergetic changes in PH patients and their association with disease severity remain unclear. Here, we hypothesize that alteration in bioenergetic function is present in platelets from PH patients and correlates with clinical parameters of PH. Platelets isolated from controls and PH patients (
Quyen L. Nguyen, Catherine Corey, Pamela White, Annie Watson, Mark T. Gladwin, Marc A. Simon, Sruti Shiva
Ciliary motion defects cause defective mucociliary transport (MCT) in primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Current diagnostic tests do not assess how MCT is affected by perturbation of ciliary motion. In this study, we sought to use micro-optical coherence tomography (μOCT) to delineate the mechanistic basis of cilia motion defects of PCD genes by functional categorization of cilia motion. Tracheae from three PCD mouse models were analyzed using μOCT to characterize ciliary motion and measure MCT. We developed multiple measures of ciliary activity, integrated these measures, and quantified dyskinesia by the angular range of the cilia effective stroke (ARC).
George M. Solomon, Richard Francis, Kengyeh K. Chu, Susan E. Birket, George Gabriel, John E. Trombley, Kristi L. Lemke, Nikolai Klena, Brett Turner, Guillermo J. Tearney, Cecilia W. Lo, Steven M. Rowe
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a severe fibrotic lung disease associated with fibroblast activation that includes excessive proliferation, tissue invasiveness, myofibroblast transformation, and extracellular matrix (ECM) production. To identify inhibitors that can attenuate fibroblast activation, we queried IPF gene signatures against a library of small-molecule-induced gene-expression profiles and identified Hsp90 inhibitors as potential therapeutic agents that can suppress fibroblast activation in IPF. Although Hsp90 is a molecular chaperone that regulates multiple processes involved in fibroblast activation, it has not been previously proposed as a molecular target in IPF. Here, we found elevated Hsp90 staining in lung biopsies of patients with IPF. Notably, fibroblasts isolated from fibrotic lesions showed heightened Hsp90 ATPase activity compared with normal fibroblasts. 17-
Vishwaraj Sontake, Yunguan Wang, Rajesh K. Kasam, Debora Sinner, Geereddy B. Reddy, Anjaparavanda P. Naren, Francis X. McCormack, Eric S. White, Anil G. Jegga, Satish K. Madala
Decreased noradrenergic excitation of hypoglossal motoneurons during sleep causing hypotonia of pharyngeal dilator muscles is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a widespread disease for which treatment options are limited. Previous OSA drug candidates targeting various excitatory/inhibitory receptors on hypoglossal motoneurons have proved unviable in reactivating these neurons, particularly during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. To identify a viable drug target, we show that the repurposed α2-adrenergic antagonist yohimbine potently reversed the depressant effect of REM sleep on baseline hypoglossal motoneuron activity (a first-line motor defense against OSA) in rats. Remarkably, yohimbine also restored the obstructive apnea–induced long-term facilitation of hypoglossal motoneuron activity (hLTF), a much-neglected form of noradrenergic-dependent neuroplasticity that could provide a second-line motor defense against OSA but was also depressed during REM sleep. Corroborating immunohistologic, optogenetic, and pharmacologic evidence confirmed that yohimbine’s beneficial effects on baseline hypoglossal motoneuron activity and hLTF were mediated mainly through activation of pontine A7 and A5 noradrenergic neurons. Our results suggest a 2-tier (impaired first- and second-line motor defense) mechanism of noradrenergic-dependent pathogenesis of OSA and a promising pharmacotherapy for rescuing both these intrinsic defenses against OSA through disinhibition of A7 and A5 neurons by α2-adrenergic blockade.
Gang Song, Chi-Sang Poon
Excessive ROS promote allergic asthma, a condition characterized by airway inflammation, eosinophilic inflammation, and increased airway hyperreactivity (AHR). The mechanisms by which airway ROS are increased and the relationship between increased airway ROS and disease phenotypes are incompletely defined. Mitochondria are an important source of cellular ROS production, and our group discovered that Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is present in mitochondria and activated by oxidation. Furthermore, mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant therapy reduced the severity of allergic asthma in a mouse model. Based on these findings, we developed a mouse model of CaMKII inhibition targeted to mitochondria in airway epithelium. We challenged these mice with OVA or
Sara C. Sebag, Olha M. Koval, John D. Paschke, Christopher J. Winters, Omar A. Jaffer, Ryszard Dworski, Fayyaz S. Sutterwala, Mark E. Anderson, Isabella M. Grumbach
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal progressive fibrotic lung disease characterized by the presence of invasive myofibroblasts in the lung. Currently, there are only two FDA-approved drugs (pirfenidone and nintedanib) for the treatment of IPF. There are no defined criteria to guide specific drug therapy. New methodologies are needed not only to predict personalized drug therapy, but also to screen novel molecules that are on the horizon for treatment of IPF. We have developed a model system that exploits the invasive phenotype of IPF lung tissue. This ex vivo 3D model uses lung tissue from patients to develop pulmospheres. Pulmospheres are 3D spheroids composed of cells derived exclusively from primary lung biopsies and inclusive of lung cell types reflective of those in situ, in the patient. We tested the pulmospheres of 20 subjects with IPF and 9 control subjects to evaluate the responsiveness of individual patients to antifibrotic drugs. Clinical parameters and outcomes were also followed in the same patients. Our results suggest that pulmospheres simulate the microenvironment in the lung and serve as a personalized and predictive model for assessing responsiveness to antifibrotic drugs in patients with IPF.
Ranu Surolia, Fu Jun Li, Zheng Wang, Huashi Li, Gang Liu, Yong Zhou, Tracy Luckhardt, Sejong Bae, Rui-ming Liu, Sunad Rangarajan, Joao de Andrade, Victor J. Thannickal, Veena B. Antony
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