Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is caused primarily by cigarette smoking, is a major health problem worldwide. The progressive decline in lung function that occurs in COPD is a result of persistent inflammation of the airways and destruction of the lung parenchyma. Despite the key role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of COPD, treatment with corticosteroids — normally highly effective antiinflammatory drugs — has little therapeutic benefit. This corticosteroid resistance is largely caused by inactivation of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2), which is critical for the transrepressive activity of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) that mediates the antiinflammatory effect of corticosteroids. Here, we show that in alveolar macrophages from patients with COPD, S-nitrosylation of HDAC2 is increased and that this abolishes its GR-transrepression activity and promotes corticosteroid insensitivity. Cys-262 and Cys-274 of HDAC2 were found to be the targets of S-nitrosylation, and exogenous glutathione treatment of macrophages from individuals with COPD restored HDAC2 activity. Treatment with sulforaphane, a small-molecule activator of the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (NRF2), was also able to denitrosylate HDAC2, restoring dexamethasone sensitivity in alveolar macrophages from patients with COPD. These effects of sulforaphane were glutathione dependent. We conclude that NRF2 is a novel drug target for reversing corticosteroid resistance in COPD and other corticosteroid-resistant inflammatory diseases.
Deepti Malhotra, Rajesh K. Thimmulappa, Nicolas Mercado, Kazuhiro Ito, Ponvijay Kombairaju, Sarvesh Kumar, Jinfang Ma, David Feller-Kopman, Robert Wise, Peter Barnes, Shyam Biswal
Pulmonary hypertension is a severe and progressive disease, a key feature of which is pulmonary vascular remodeling. Several growth factors, including EGF, PDGF, and TGF-β1, are involved in pulmonary vascular remodeling during pulmonary hypertension. However, increased knowledge of the downstream signaling cascades is needed if effective clinical interventions are to be developed. In this context, calpain provides an interesting candidate therapeutic target, since it is activated by EGF and PDGF and has been reported to activate TGF-β1. Thus, in this study, we examined the role of calpain in pulmonary vascular remodeling in two rodent models of pulmonary hypertension. These data showed that attenuated calpain activity in calpain-knockout mice or rats treated with a calpain inhibitor resulted in prevention of increased right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, as well as collagen deposition and thickening of pulmonary arterioles in models of hypoxia- and monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension. Additionally, inhibition of calpain in vitro blocked intracellular activation of TGF-β1, which led to attenuated Smad2/3 phosphorylation and collagen synthesis. Finally, smooth muscle cells of pulmonary arterioles from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension showed higher levels of calpain activation and intracellular active TGF-β. Our data provide evidence that calpain mediates EGF- and PDGF-induced collagen synthesis and proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells via an intracrine TGF-β1 pathway in pulmonary hypertension.
Wanli Ma, Weihong Han, Peter A. Greer, Rubin M. Tuder, Haroldo A. Toque, Kevin K.W. Wang, R. William Caldwell, Yunchao Su
During lung development, parabronchial SMC (PSMC) progenitors in the distal mesenchyme secrete fibroblast growth factor 10 (Fgf10), which acts on distal epithelial progenitors to promote their proliferation. β-catenin signaling within PSMC progenitors is essential for their maintenance, proliferation, and expression of Fgf10. Here, we report that this Wnt/Fgf10 embryonic signaling cascade is reactivated in mature PSMCs after naphthalene-induced injury to airway epithelium. Furthermore, we found that this paracrine Fgf10 action was essential for activating surviving variant Clara cells (the cells in the airway epithelium from which replacement epithelial cells originate) located at the bronchoalveolar duct junctions and adjacent to neuroendocrine bodies. After naphthalene injury, PSMCs secreted Fgf10 to activate Notch signaling and induce Snai1 expression in surviving variant Clara cells, which subsequently underwent a transient epithelial to mesenchymal transition to initiate the repair process. Epithelial Snai1 expression was important for regeneration after injury. We have therefore identified PSMCs as a stem cell niche for the variant Clara cells in the lung and established that paracrine Fgf10 signaling from the niche is critical for epithelial repair after naphthalene injury. These findings also have implications for understanding the misregulation of lung repair in asthma and cancer.
Thomas Volckaert, Erik Dill, Alice Campbell, Caterina Tiozzo, Susan Majka, Saverio Bellusci, Stijn P. De Langhe
Reduced bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2 (BMPR2) expression in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) can impair pulmonary arterial EC (PAEC) function. This can adversely affect EC survival and promote SMC proliferation. We hypothesized that interventions to normalize expression of genes that are targets of BMPR2 signaling could restore PAEC function and prevent or reverse PAH. Here we have characterized, in human PAECs, a BMPR2-mediated transcriptional complex between PPARγ and β-catenin and shown that disruption of this complex impaired BMP-mediated PAEC survival. Using whole genome-wide ChIP-Chip promoter analysis and gene expression microarrays, we delineated PPARγ/β-catenin–dependent transcription of target genes including APLN, which encodes apelin. We documented reduced PAEC expression of apelin in PAH patients versus controls. In cell culture experiments, we showed that apelin-deficient PAECs were prone to apoptosis and promoted pulmonary arterial SMC (PASMC) proliferation. Conversely, we established that apelin, like BMPR2 ligands, suppressed proliferation and induced apoptosis of PASMCs. Consistent with these functions, administration of apelin reversed PAH in mice with reduced production of apelin resulting from deletion of PPARγ in ECs. Taken together, our findings suggest that apelin could be effective in treating PAH by rescuing BMPR2 and PAEC dysfunction.
Tero-Pekka Alastalo, Molong Li, Vinicio de Jesus Perez, David Pham, Hirofumi Sawada, Jordon K. Wang, Minna Koskenvuo, Lingli Wang, Bruce A. Freeman, Howard Y. Chang, Marlene Rabinovitch
In cystic fibrosis (CF), a lack of functional CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride channels causes defective secretion by submucosal glands (SMGs), leading to persistent bacterial infection that damages airways and necessitates tissue repair. SMGs are also important niches for slow-cycling progenitor cells (SCPCs) in the proximal airways, which may be involved in disease-related airway repair. Here, we report that calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) activates CFTR-dependent SMG secretions and that this signaling pathway is hyperactivated in CF human, pig, ferret, and mouse SMGs. Since CGRP-expressing neuroendocrine cells reside in bronchiolar SCPC niches, we hypothesized that the glandular SCPC niche may be dysfunctional in CF. Consistent with this hypothesis, CFTR-deficient mice failed to maintain glandular SCPCs following airway injury. In wild-type mice, CGRP levels increased following airway injury and functioned as an injury-induced mitogen that stimulated SMG progenitor cell proliferation in vivo and altered the proliferative potential of airway progenitors in vitro. Components of the receptor for CGRP (RAMP1 and CLR) were expressed in a very small subset of SCPCs, suggesting that CGRP indirectly stimulates SCPC proliferation in a non-cell-autonomous manner. These findings demonstrate that CGRP-dependent pathways for CFTR activation are abnormally upregulated in CF SMGs and that this sustained mitogenic signal alters properties of the SMG progenitor cell niche in CF airways. This discovery may have important implications for injury/repair mechanisms in the CF airway.
Weiliang Xie, John T. Fisher, Thomas J. Lynch, Meihui Luo, Turan I.A. Evans, Traci L. Neff, Weihong Zhou, Yulong Zhang, Yi Ou, Nigel W. Bunnett, Andrew F. Russo, Michael J. Goodheart, Kalpaj R. Parekh, Xiaoming Liu, John F. Engelhardt
Laminins and their integrin receptors are implicated in epithelial cell differentiation and progenitor cell maintenance. We report here that a previously unrecognized subpopulation of mouse alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) expressing the laminin receptor α6β4, but little or no pro–surfactant C (pro-SPC), is endowed with regenerative potential. Ex vivo, this subpopulation expanded clonally as progenitors but also differentiated toward mature cell types. Integrin β4 itself was not required for AEC proliferation or differentiation. An in vivo embryonic lung organoid assay, which we believe to be novel, was used to show that purified β4+ adult AECs admixed with E14.5 lung single-cell suspensions and implanted under kidney capsules self-organized into distinct Clara cell 10-kDa secretory protein (CC10+) airway-like and SPC+ saccular structures within 6 days. Using a bleomycin model of lung injury and an SPC-driven inducible cre to fate-map AECs, we found the majority of type II AECs in fibrotic areas were not derived from preexisting type II AECs, demonstrating that SPC– progenitor cells replenished type II AECs during repair. Our findings support the idea that there is a stable AEC progenitor population in the adult lung, provide in vivo evidence of AEC progenitor cell differentiation after parenchymal injury, and identify a strong candidate progenitor cell for maintenance of type II AECs during lung repair.
Harold A. Chapman, Xiaopeng Li, Jonathan P. Alexander, Alexis Brumwell, Walter Lorizio, Kevin Tan, Arnoud Sonnenberg, Ying Wei, Thiennu H. Vu
Multidrug resistance–associated protein 4 (MRP4, also known as Abcc4) regulates intracellular levels of cAMP and cGMP in arterial SMCs. Here, we report our studies of the role of MRP4 in the development and progression of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a severe vascular disease characterized by chronically elevated pulmonary artery pressure and accompanied by remodeling of the small pulmonary arteries as a prelude to right heart failure and premature death. MRP4 expression was increased in pulmonary arteries from patients with idiopathic PAH as well as in WT mice exposed to hypoxic conditions. Consistent with a pathogenic role for MRP4 in PAH, WT mice exposed to hypoxia for 3 weeks showed reversal of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (PH) following oral administration of the MRP4 inhibitor MK571, and Mrp4–/– mice were protected from hypoxic PH. Inhibition of MRP4 in vitro was accompanied by increased intracellular cAMP and cGMP levels and PKA and PKG activities, implicating cyclic nucleotide-related signaling pathways in the mechanism underlying the protective effects of MRP4 inhibition. Our data suggest that MRP4 could represent a potential target for therapeutic intervention in PAH.
Yannis Hara, Yassine Sassi, Christelle Guibert, Natacha Gambaryan, Peter Dorfmüller, Saadia Eddahibi, Anne-Marie Lompré, Marc Humbert, Jean-Sébastien Hulot
The airway is a primary portal of entry for noxious environmental stimuli that can trigger airway remodeling, which contributes significantly to airway obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic asthma. Important pathologic components of airway remodeling include fibrosis and abnormal innate and adaptive immune responses. The positioning of fibroblasts in interstitial spaces suggests that they could participate in both fibrosis and chemokine regulation of the trafficking of immune cells such as dendritic cells, which are crucial antigen-presenting cells. However, physiological evidence for this dual role for fibroblasts is lacking. Here, in two physiologically relevant models — conditional deletion in mouse fibroblasts of the TGF-β–activating integrin αvβ8 and neutralization of αvβ8 in human COPD fibroblasts — we have elucidated a mechanism whereby lung fibroblast chemokine secretion directs dendritic cell trafficking, in a manner that is critically dependent on αvβ8-mediated activation of TGF-β by fibroblasts. Our data therefore indicate that fibroblasts have a crucial role in regulating both fibrotic and immune responses in the lung.
Hideya Kitamura, Stephanie Cambier, Sangeeta Somanath, Tyren Barker, Shunsuke Minagawa, Jennifer Markovics, Amanda Goodsell, Jean Publicover, Louis Reichardt, David Jablons, Paul Wolters, Arthur Hill, James D. Marks, Jianlong Lou, Jean-Francois Pittet, Jack Gauldie, Jody Lynn Baron, Stephen L. Nishimura
Pulmonary emphysema is a disease characterized by alveolar cellular loss and inflammation. Recently, excessive apoptosis of structural alveolar cells has emerged as a major mechanism in the development of emphysema. Here, we investigated the proapoptotic and monocyte chemoattractant cytokine endothelial monocyte-activating protein 2 (EMAPII). Lung-specific overexpression of EMAPII in mice caused simplification of alveolar structures, apoptosis, and macrophage accumulation, compared with that in control transgenic mice. Additionally, in a mouse model of cigarette smoke–induced (CS-induced) emphysema, EMAPII levels were significantly increased in murine lungs. This upregulation was necessary for emphysema development, as neutralizing antibodies to EMAPII resulted in reduced alveolar cell apoptosis, inflammation, and emphysema-associated structural changes in alveoli and small airways and improved lung function. The mechanism of EMAPII upregulation involved an apoptosis-dependent feed-forward loop, since caspase-3 instillation in the lung markedly increased EMAPII expression, while caspase inhibition decreased its production, even in transgenic EMAPII mice. These findings may have clinical significance, as both current smokers and ex-smoker chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients had increased levels of secreted EMAPII in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid compared with that of nonsmokers. In conclusion, we suggest that EMAPII perpetuates the mechanism of CS-induced lung emphysema in mice and, given its secretory nature, is a suitable target for neutralization antibody therapy.
Matthias Clauss, Robert Voswinckel, Gangaraju Rajashekhar, Ninotchka L. Sigua, Heinz Fehrenbach, Natalia I. Rush, Kelly S. Schweitzer, Ali Ö. Yildirim, Krzysztof Kamocki, Amanda J. Fisher, Yuan Gu, Bilal Safadi, Sandeep Nikam, Walter C. Hubbard, Rubin M. Tuder, Homer L. Twigg III, Robert G. Presson, Sanjay Sethi, Irina Petrache
Although mutations in Kras are present in 21% of lung tumors, there is a high level of heterogeneity in phenotype and outcome among patients with lung cancer bearing similar mutations, suggesting that other pathways are important. Wnt/β-catenin signaling is a known oncogenic pathway that plays a well-defined role in colon and skin cancer; however, its role in lung cancer is unclear. We have shown here that activation of Wnt/β-catenin in the bronchiolar epithelium of the adult mouse lung does not itself promote tumor development. However, concurrent activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and expression of a constitutively active Kras mutant (KrasG12D) led to a dramatic increase in both overall tumor number and size compared with KrasG12D alone. Activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling altered the KrasG12D tumor phenotype, resulting in a phenotypic switch from bronchiolar epithelium to the highly proliferative distal progenitors found in the embryonic lung. This was associated with decreased E-cadherin expression at the cell surface, which may underlie the increased metastasis of tumors with active Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Together, these data suggest that activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling can combine with other oncogenic pathways in lung epithelium to produce a more aggressive tumor phenotype by imposing an embryonic distal progenitor phenotype and by decreasing E-cadherin expression.
Eugenia C. Pacheco-Pinedo, Amy C. Durham, Kathleen M. Stewart, Ashley M. Goss, Min Min Lu, Francesco J. DeMayo, Edward E. Morrisey