A translational study in renal transplantation suggested YKL-40, a chitinase 3-like-1 gene product, plays an important role in acute kidney injury (AKI) and repair, but data are lacking about this protein in urine from native human kidneys.
YKL-40, encoded by the chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) gene, is a chitinase-like protein involved in innate immune function hypothesized to play a role in the progression of atherosclerosis that may have differential roles in myocardial infarction (MI), as compared to stroke.
Epithelial injury, alternative macrophage accumulation, and fibroproliferation coexist in the lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) is a prototypic chitinase-like protein that has been retained over species and evolutionary time. However, the regulation of CHI3L1 in IPF and its ability to regulate injury and/or fibroproliferative repair have not been fully defined. We demonstrated that CHI3L1 levels were elevated in patients with IPF. High levels of CHI3L1 are associated with progression--as defined by lung transplantation or death--and with scavenger receptor-expressing circulating monocytes in an ambulatory IPF population. In preterminal acute exacerbations of IPF, CHI3L1 levels were reduced and associated with increased levels of apoptosis. We also demonstrated that in bleomycin-treated mice, CHI3L1 expression was acutely and transiently decreased during the injury phase and returned toward and eventually exceeded baseline levels during the fibrotic phase. In this model, CHI3L1 played a protective role in injury by ameliorating inflammation and cell death, and a profibrotic role in the repair phase by augmenting alternative macrophage activation, fibroblast proliferation, and matrix deposition. Using three-dimensional culture system of a human fibroblast cell line, we found that CHI3L1 is sufficient to induce low grade myofibroblast transformation. In combination, these studies demonstrate that CHI3L1 is stimulated in IPF, where it represents an attempt to diminish injury and induce repair. They also demonstrate that high levels of CHI3L1 are associated with disease progression in ambulatory patients and that a failure of the CHI3L1 antiapoptotic response might contribute to preterminal disease exacerbations.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a fatal progressive disease with no effective therapy. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-?1 has long been regarded as a central mediator of tissue fibrosis that involves multiple organs including skin, liver, kidney, and lung. Thus, TGF-?1 and its signaling pathways have been attractive therapeutic targets for the development of antifibrotic drugs. However, the essential biological functions of TGF-?1 in maintaining normal immune and cellular homeostasis significantly limit the effectiveness of TGF-?1-directed therapeutic approaches. Thus, targeting downstream mediators or signaling molecules of TGF-?1 could be an alternative approach that selectively inhibits TGF-?1-stimulated fibrotic tissue response while preserving major physiological function of TGF-?1. Recent studies from our laboratory revealed that TGF-?1 crosstalk with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling by induction of amphiregulin, a ligand of EGFR, plays a critical role in the development or progression of pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, chitotriosidase, a true chitinase in humans, has been identified to have modulating capacity of TGF-?1 signaling as a new biomarker and therapeutic target of scleroderma-associated pulmonary fibrosis. These newly identified modifiers of TGF-?1 effector function significantly enhance the effectiveness and flexibility in targeting pulmonary fibrosis in which TGF-?1 plays a significant role.
Severe and fatal malaria are associated with dysregulated host inflammatory responses to infection. Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) is a secreted glycoprotein implicated in regulating immune responses. Expression and function of CHI3L1 in malaria infection were investigated.
Sepsis is a systemic inflammatory response to infection and a major cause of death worldwide. Because specific therapies to treat sepsis are limited, and underlying pathogenesis is unclear, current medical care remains purely supportive. Therefore targeted therapies to treat sepsis need to be developed. Although an important mediator of sepsis is thought to be mitochondrial dysfunction, the underlying molecular mechanism is unclear. Modulation of mitochondrial processes may be an effective therapeutic strategy in sepsis. Here, we investigated the role of the kinase MKK3 in regulation of mitochondrial function in sepsis. Using clinically relevant animal models, we examined mitochondrial function in primary mouse lung endothelial cells exposed to LPS. MKK3 deficiency reduces lethality of sepsis in mice and by lowering levels of lung and mitochondrial injury as well as reactive oxygen species. Furthermore, MKK3 deficiency appeared to simultaneously increase mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy through the actions of Sirt1, Pink1, and Parkin. This led to a more robust mitochondrial network, which we propose provides protection against sepsis. We also detected higher MKK3 activation in isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from septic patients compared with nonseptic controls. Our findings demonstrate a critical role for mitochondria in the pathogenesis of sepsis that involves a previously unrecognized function of MKK3 in mitochondrial quality control. This mitochondrial pathway may help reveal new diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets against sepsis.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder affecting 15-24% of the adults and is associated with increased risk of hypertension and atherosclerosis. The exact mechanisms underlying hypertension in OSA are not entirely clear. YKL-40/Chitinase-3-like protein-1 is a circulating moiety with roles in injury, repair and angiogenesis that is dysregulated in atherosclerosis and a number of other diseases. We sought to determine the role of YKL-40 in endothelial dysfunction and hypertension in OSA.
Asthma, the prototypic Th2-mediated inflammatory disorder of the lung, is an emergent disease worldwide. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical regulator of pulmonary Th2 inflammation, but the underlying mechanism and the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in this process have not been defined. Here we show that lung-specific overexpression of VEGF decreases miR-1 expression in the lung, most prominently in the endothelium, and a similar down-regulation occurs in lung endothelium in Th2 inflammation models. Intranasal delivery of miR-1 inhibited inflammatory responses to ovalbumin, house dust mite, and IL-13 overexpression. Blocking VEGF inhibited Th2-mediated lung inflammation, and this was restored by antagonizing miR-1. Using mRNA arrays, Argonaute pull-down assays, luciferase expression assays, and mutational analysis, we identified Mpl as a direct target of miR-1 and showed that VEGF controls the expression of endothelial Mpl during Th2 inflammation via the regulation of miR-1. In vivo knockdown of Mpl inhibited Th2 inflammation and indirectly inhibited the expression of P-selectin in lung endothelium. These experiments define a novel VEGF-miR-1-Mpl-P-selectin effector pathway in lung Th2 inflammation and herald the utility of miR-1 and Mpl as potential therapeutic targets for asthma.
Interactions between cigarette smoke (CS) exposure and viral infection play an important role(s) in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a variety of other disorders. A variety of lines of evidence suggest that this interaction induces exaggerated inflammatory, cytokine, and tissue remodeling responses. We hypothesized that the 2-5 oligoadenylate synthetase (OAS)/RNase L system, an innate immune antiviral pathway, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of these exaggerated responses. To test this hypothesis, we characterize the activation of 2-5 OAS in lungs from mice exposed to CS and viral pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs)/live virus, alone and in combination. We also evaluated the inflammatory and remodeling responses induced by CS and virus/viral PAMPs in lungs from RNase L null and wild-type mice. These studies demonstrate that CS and viral PAMPs/live virus interact in a synergistic manner to stimulate the production of select OAS moieties. They also demonstrate that RNase L plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of the exaggerated inflammatory, fibrotic, emphysematous, apoptotic, TGF-?1, and type I IFN responses induced by CS plus virus/viral PAMP in combination. These studies demonstrate that CS is an important regulator of antiviral innate immunity, highlight novel roles of RNase L in CS plus virus induced inflammation, tissue remodeling, apoptosis, and cytokine elaboration and highlight pathways that may be operative in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mechanistically related disorders.
Members of the 18 glycosyl hydrolase (GH 18) gene family have been conserved over species and time and are dysregulated in inflammatory, infectious, remodeling, and neoplastic disorders. This is particularly striking for the prototypic chitinase-like protein chitinase 3-like 1 (Chi3l1), which plays a critical role in antipathogen responses where it augments bacterial killing while stimulating disease tolerance by controlling cell death, inflammation, and remodeling. However, receptors that mediate the effects of GH 18 moieties have not been defined. Here, we demonstrate that Chi3l1 binds to interleukin-13 receptor ?2 (IL-13R?2) and that Chi3l1, IL-13R?2, and IL-13 are in a multimeric complex. We also demonstrate that Chi3l1 activates macrophage mitogen-activated protein kinase, protein kinase B/AKT, and Wnt/?-catenin signaling and regulates oxidant injury, apoptosis, pyroptosis, inflammasome activation, antibacterial responses, melanoma metastasis, and TGF-?1 production via IL-13R?2-dependent mechanisms. Thus, IL-13R?2 is a GH 18 receptor that plays a critical role in Chi3l1 effector responses.
Neovascularization of the airways occurs in several inflammatory lung diseases, including asthma. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays an important role in vascular remodeling in the asthmatic airways. Fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4 or aP2) is an intracellular lipid chaperone that is induced by VEGF in endothelial cells. FABP4 exhibits a proangiogenic function in vitro, but whether it plays a role in modulation of angiogenesis in vivo is not known. We hypothesized that FABP4 promotes VEGF-induced airway angiogenesis and investigated this hypothesis with the use of a transgenic mouse model with inducible overexpression of VEGF165 under a CC10 promoter [VEGF-TG (transgenic) mice]. We found a significant increase in FABP4 mRNA levels and density of FABP4-expressing vascular endothelial cells in mouse airways with VEGF overexpression. FABP4(-/-) mouse airways showed a significant decrease in neovessel formation and endothelial cell proliferation in response to VEGF overexpression. These alterations in airway vasculature were accompanied by attenuated expression of proinflammatory mediators. Furthermore, VEGF-TG/FABP4(-/-) mice showed markedly decreased expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, a well-known mediator of VEGF-induced responses, compared with VEGF-TG mice. Finally, the density of FABP4-immunoreactive vessels in endobronchial biopsy specimens was significantly higher in patients with asthma than in control subjects. Taken together, these data unravel FABP4 as a potential target of pathologic airway remodeling in asthma.
Kidney hypoperfusion during episodes of systemic hypotension or after surgical procurement for transplantation can lead to tubular cell death via necrosis and apoptosis, which trigger a series of responses that promote repair. The factors that contribute to the repair phase after kidney injury are not well understood. Using a urine proteomic screen in mice, we identified the macrophage-secreted chitinase-like protein Brp-39, the murine protein product of the chitinase 3-like 1 gene, as a critical component of this reparative response that serves to limit tubular cell apoptotic death via activation of Akt, improving animal survival after kidney ischemia/reperfusion. Examination of graded times of renal ischemia revealed a direct correlation between the degree of kidney injury and both Chi3l1/Brp-39 expression in the kidney and its levels in the urine. In samples collected from patients undergoing deceased-donor kidney transplantation, we found higher levels of the orthologous human protein, YKL-40, in urine and blood from allografts subjected to sufficient peri-transplant ischemia to cause delayed graft function than from allografts with slow or immediate graft function. Urinary levels of YKL-40 obtained within hours of transplant predicted the need for subsequent dialysis in these patients. In summary, these data suggest that Brp-39/YKL-40 is a sensor of the degree of injury, a critical mediator of the reparative response, and a possible biomarker to identify patients at greatest risk of sustained renal failure after transplantation.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent stimulator of vascular angiogenesis, permeability, and remodeling that also plays important roles in wound healing and tissue cytoprotection. To begin to define the roles of VEGF in diseases like asthma and COPD, we characterized the effects of lung-targeted transgenic VEGF(165) and defined the innate immune pathways that regulate VEGF tissue responses. The former studies demonstrated that VEGF plays an important role in Th2 inflammation because, in addition to stimulating angiogenesis and edema, VEGF induced eosinophilic inflammation, mucus metaplasia, subepithelial fibrosis, myocyte hyperplasia, dendritic cell activation, and airways hyperresponsiveness via IL-13-dependent and -independent mechanisms. VEGF was also produced at sites of aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation, and VEGF receptor blockade ameliorated adaptive Th2 inflammation and Th2 cytokine elaboration. The latter studies demonstrated that activation of the RIG-like helicase (RLH) innate immune pathway using viral pathogen-associated molecular patterns such as Poly(I:C) or viruses ameliorated VEGF-induced tissue responses. In accord with these findings, Poly(I:C)-induced RLH activation also abrogated aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation. When viewed in combination, these studies suggest that VEGF excess can contribute to the pathogenesis of Th2 inflammatory disorders such as asthma and that abrogation of VEGF signaling via RLH activation can contribute to the pathogenesis of viral disorders such as virus-induced COPD exacerbations. They also suggest that RLH activation may be a useful therapeutic strategy in asthma and related disorders.
The 18 glycosyl hydrolase family of chitinases is an ancient gene family that is widely expressed from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. In mammals, despite the absence of endogenous chitin, a number of chitinases and chitinase-like proteins (C/CLPs) have been identified. However, their roles have only recently begun to be elucidated. Acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) inhibits chitin-induced innate inflammation; augments chitin-free, allergen-induced Th2 inflammation; and mediates effector functions of IL-13. The CLPs BRP-39/YKL-40 (also termed chitinase 3-like 1) inhibit oxidant-induced lung injury, augments adaptive Th2 immunity, regulates apoptosis, stimulates alternative macrophage activation, and contributes to fibrosis and wound healing. In accord with these findings, levels of YKL-40 in the lung and serum are increased in asthma and other inflammatory and remodeling disorders and often correlate with disease severity. Our understanding of the roles of C/CLPs in inflammation, tissue remodeling, and tissue injury in health and disease is reviewed below.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a uniformly lethal disease with limited biomarkers and no proven therapeutic intervention short of lung transplantation. Pulmonary fibrosis at one time was thought to be a result of inflammation in the lung. Although some forms of pulmonary fibrosis may result from inflammation, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is currently thought to result from cell death primarily and inflammation secondarily.
Semaphorin 7a regulates transforming growth factor ?1 (TGF?1)-induced fibrosis. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that semaphorin 7a exerts its profibrotic effects in part by promoting the tissue accumulation of CD45+ fibrocytes.
Recent clinical evidence indicates that the non-eosinophilic subtype of severe asthma is characterized by fixed airway obstruction, which may be related to emphysema. Transgenic studies have demonstrated that high levels of IFN-? in the airways induce emphysema. Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), which is the downstream mediator of TGF-?, is important in wound healing. We investigated the role of FGF2 in IFN-?-induced emphysema and the therapeutic effects of recombinant FGF2 in the prevention of emphysema in a severe non-eosinophilic asthma model. To evaluate the role of FGF2 in IFN-?-induced emphysema, lung targeted IFN-? transgenic mice were cross-bred with FGF2-deficient mice. A severe non-eosinophilic asthma model was generated by airway application of LPS-containing allergens twice a week for 4 weeks. To evaluate protective effects of FGF2, recombinant FGF2 (10 ?g) was injected subcutaneously during allergen challenge in the severe asthma model. We found that non-eosinophilic inflammation and emphysema induced by transgenic overexpression of IFN-? in the airways were aggravated by the absence of FGF2. Airway challenge with LPS-containing allergens induced more inflammation in mice sensitized with LPS-containing allergens compared to challenge with allergens alone. In addition, LPS-induced lung inflammation and emphysema depended on IFN-? but not on IL-13. Interestingly, emphysema in the severe asthma model was significantly inhibited by treatment with recombinant FGF2 during allergen challenge, whereas lung inflammation was unaffected. Therefore, our present data suggest that FGF2 may help protect against IFN-?-induced emphysema, and that recombinant FGF2 may help lessen the severity of emphysema.
Collagen-containing leukocytes (CD45+Col-I+) accumulate in diseased and fibrotic tissues. However, the precise identity of these cells and whether injury is required for their recruitment remain unknown. Using a murine model of pulmonary fibrosis in which an inducible, bioactive form of the human transforming growth factor (TGF)-?1 gene is targeted to the lung, we characterized the cell surface phenotype of collagen-containing CD45+ cells in the lung and tested the hypothesis that apoptotic cell death responses are essential to the accumulation of CD45+Col-I+ cells.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates vascular, inflammatory, remodeling, and cell death responses. It plays a critical role in normal pulmonary physiology, and VEGF excess and deficiency have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respectively. Although viruses are an important cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations and innate responses play an important role in these exacerbations, the effects of antiviral responses on VEGF homeostasis have not been evaluated.
Nogo-B is a member of the reticulon family of proteins (RTN-4B) that is highly expressed in lung tissue; however, its function remains unknown. We show that mice with Th2-driven lung inflammation results in a loss of Nogo expression in airway epithelium and smooth muscle compared with nonallergic mice, a finding which is replicated in severe human asthma. Mice lacking Nogo-A/B (Nogo-KO) display an exaggerated asthma-like phenotype, and epithelial reconstitution of Nogo-B in transgenic mice blunts Th2-mediated lung inflammation. Microarray analysis of lungs from Nogo-KO mice reveals a marked reduction in palate lung and nasal clone (PLUNC) gene expression, and the levels of PLUNC are enhanced in epithelial Nogo-B transgenic mice. Finally, transgenic expression of PLUNC into Nogo-KO mice rescues the enhanced asthmatic-like responsiveness in these KO mice. These data identify Nogo-B as a novel protective gene expressed in lung epithelia, and its expression regulates the levels of the antibacterial antiinflammatory protein PLUNC.
The exaggerated expression of chitinase-like protein YKL-40, the human homologue of breast regression protein-39 (BRP-39), was reported in a number of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the in vivo roles of YKL-40 in normal physiology or in the pathogenesis of specific diseases such as COPD remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that BRP-39/YKL-40 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)-induced emphysema. To test this hypothesis, 10-week-old wild-type and BRP-39 null mutant mice (BRP-39(-/-)) were exposed to room air (RA) and CS for up to 10 months. The expression of BRP-39 was significantly induced in macrophages, airway epithelial cells, and alveolar Type II cells in the lungs of CS-exposed mice compared with RA-exposed mice, at least in part via an IL-18 signaling-dependent pathway. The null mutation of BRP-39 significantly reduced CS-induced bronchoalveolar lavage and tissue inflammation. However, CS-induced epithelial cell apoptosis and alveolar destruction were further enhanced in the absence of BRP-39. Consistent with these findings in mice, the tissue expression of YKL-40 was significantly increased in the lungs of current smokers compared with the lungs of ex-smokers or nonsmokers. In addition, serum concentrations of YKL-40 were significantly higher in smokers with COPD than in nonsmokers or smokers without COPD. These studies demonstrate a novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in CS-induced inflammation and emphysematous destruction. These studies also underscore that maintaining physiologic concentrations of YKL-40 in the lung is therapeutically important in preventing excessive inflammatory responses or emphysematous alveolar destruction.
Chitin is a ubiquitous polysaccharide in fungi, insects, allergens, and parasites that is released at sites of infection. Its role in the generation of tissue inflammation, however, is not fully understood.
The pleiotropic growth factor TGF?(1) promotes many of the pathogenic mechanisms observed in lung fibrosis and airway remodeling, such as aberrant extracellular matrix deposition due to both fibroblast activation and fibroblast to myofibroblast differentiation. Serum amyloid P (SAP), a member of the pentraxin family of proteins inhibits bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis through an inhibition of pulmonary fibrocyte and pro-fibrotic alternative (M2) macrophage accumulation. It is unknown if SAP has effects downstream of TGF?(1), a major mediator of pulmonary fibrosis. Using the lung specific TGF?(1) transgenic mouse model, we determined that SAP inhibits all of the pathologies driven by TGF?(1) including apoptosis, airway inflammation, pulmonary fibrocyte accumulation and collagen deposition, without affecting levels of TGF?(1). To explore the role of monocyte derived cells in this model we used liposomal clodronate to deplete pulmonary macrophages. This led to pronounced anti-fibrotic effects that were independent of fibrocyte accumulation. Administration of SAP mirrored these effects and reduced both pulmonary M2 macrophages and increased chemokine IP10/CXCL10 expression in a SMAD 3-independent manner. Interestingly, SAP concentrations were reduced in the circulation of IPF patients and correlated with disease severity. Last, SAP directly inhibited M2 macrophage differentiation of monocytes obtained from these patients. These data suggest that the beneficial anti-fibrotic effects of SAP in TGF?(1)-induced lung disease are via modulating monocyte responses.
IL-4 and IL-13 are closely related cytokines that are produced by Th2 cells. However, IL-4 and IL-13 have different effects on the development of asthma phenotypes. Here, we evaluated downstream molecular mechanisms involved in the development of Th2 type asthma phenotypes. A murine model of Th2 asthma was used that involved intraperitoneal sensitization with an allergen (ovalbumin) plus alum and then challenge with ovalbumin alone. Asthma phenotypes, including airway-hyperresponsiveness (AHR), lung inflammation, and immunologic parameters were evaluated after allergen challenge in mice deficient in candidate genes. The present study showed that methacholine AHR and lung inflammation developed in allergen-challenged IL-4-deficient mice but not in allergen-challenged IL-13-deficient mice. In addition, the production of OVA-specific IgG2a and IFN-gamma-inducible protein (IP)-10 was also impaired in the absence of IL-13, but not of IL-4. Lung-targeted IFN-gamma over-expression in the airways enhanced methacholine AHR and non-eosinophilic inflammation; in addition, these asthma phenotypes were impaired in allergen-challenged IFN-gamma-deficient mice. Moreover, AHR, non-eosinophilic inflammation, and IFN-gamma expression were impaired in allergen-challenged IL-12Rbeta2- and STAT4-deficient mice; however, AHR and non-eosinophilic inflammation were not impaired in allergen-challenged IL-4Ralpha-deficient mice, and these phenomena were accompanied by the enhanced expression of IL-12 and IFN-gamma. The present data suggest that IL-13-mediated asthma phenotypes, such as AHR and non-eosinophilic inflammation, in the Th2 type asthma are dependent on the IL-12-STAT4-IFN-gamma axis, and that these asthma phenotypes are independent of IL-4Ralpha-mediated signaling.
Prolonged exposure to 100% O(2) causes hyperoxic acute lung injury (HALI), characterized by alveolar epithelial cell injury and death. We previously demonstrated that the murine chitinase-like protein, breast regression protein (BRP)-39 and its human homolog, YKL-40, inhibit cellular apoptosis. However, the regulation and roles of these molecules in hyperoxia have not been addressed.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed novel genes and pathways involved in lung disease, many of which are potential targets for therapy. However, despite numerous successes, a large proportion of the genetic variance in disease risk remains unexplained, and the function of the associated genetic variations identified by GWAS and the mechanisms by which they alter individual risk for disease or pathogenesis are still largely unknown. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) convened a 2-day workshop to address these shortcomings and to make recommendations for future research areas that will move the scientific community beyond gene discovery. Topics of individual sessions ranged from data integration and systems genetics to functional validation of genetic variations in humans and model systems. There was broad consensus among the participants for five high-priority areas for future research, including the following: (1) integrated approaches to characterize the function of genetic variations, (2) studies on the role of environment and mechanisms of transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation, (3) development of model systems to study gene function in complex biological systems, (4) comparative phenomic studies across lung diseases, and (5) training in and applications of bioinformatic approaches for comprehensive mining of existing data sets. Last, it was agreed that future research on lung diseases should integrate approaches across "-omic" technologies and to include ethnically/racially diverse populations in human studies of lung disease whenever possible.
BRP-39 and its human homolog YKL-40 have been regarded as a prototype of chitinase-like proteins (CLP) in mammals. Exaggerated levels of YKL-40 protein and/or mRNA have been noted in a number of diseases characterized by inflammation, tissue remodeling, and aberrant cell growth. Asthma is an inflammatory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness and airway remodeling. Recently, the novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in the pathogenesis of asthma has been demonstrated both in human studies and allergic animal models. The levels of YKL-40 are increased in the circulation and lungs from asthmatics where they correlate with disease severity, and CHI3L1 polymorphisms correlate with serum YKL-40 levels, asthma and abnormal lung function. Animal studies using BRP-39 null mutant mice demonstrated that BRP-39 was required for optimal allergen sensitization and Th2 inflammation. These studies suggest the potential use of BRP-39 as a biomarker as well as a therapeutic target for asthma and other allergic diseases. Here, we present an overview of chitin/chitinase biology and summarize recent findings on the role of BRP-39 in the pathogenesis of asthma and allergic responses.
Insulin resistance is a major characteristic of type 2 diabetes and is causally associated with obesity. Inflammation plays an important role in obesity-associated insulin resistance, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Interleukin (IL)-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine with lower circulating levels in obese subjects, and acute treatment with IL-10 prevents lipid-induced insulin resistance. We examined the role of IL-10 in glucose homeostasis using transgenic mice with muscle-specific overexpression of IL-10 (MCK-IL10).
Allergic asthma is a frequent lung disease in Western civilizations and is characterized by airway inflammation and tissue remodeling. Without early diagnosis and specific treatment, asthma results in a loss of lung function, impaired quality of life and the risk to die from uncontrolled asthma attacks. Thus, there is a need for specific biomarkers to detect asthma as soon as possible and to initiate the correct clinical treatment.
We previously demonstrated that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in the murine lung increases local CD11c+MHCII+ DC number and activation. In this study, employing a multicolor flow cytometry, we report increases in both myeloid (mDC) and plasmacytoid (pDC) DC in the lungs of VEGF transgenic (tg) compared to WT mice. Lung pDC from VEGF tg mice exhibited higher levels of activation with increased expression of MHCII and costimulatory molecules. As VEGF tg mice display an asthma-like phenotype and lung mDC play a critical role in asthmatic setting, studies were undertaken to further characterize murine lung mDC. Evaluations of sorted mDC from VEGF tg lungs demonstrated a selective upregulation of cathepsin K, MMP-8, -9, -12, and -14, and chemokine receptors as compared to those obtained from WT control mice. They also had increased VEGFR2 but downregulated VEGFR1 expression. Analysis of chemokine and regulatory cytokine expression in these cells showed an upregulation of macrophage chemotactic protein-3 (MCP-3), thymus-expressed chemokine (TECK), secondary lymphoid organ chemokine (SLC), macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC), IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-13. The antigen (Ag) OVA-FITC uptake by lung DC and the migration of Ag-loaded DC to local lymph nodes were significantly increased in VEGF tg mice compared to WT mice. Thus, VEGF may predispose the lung to inflammation and/or repair by activating local DC. It regulates lung mDC expression of innate immunity effector molecules. The data presented here demonstrate how lung VEGF expression functionally affects local mDC for the transition from the innate response to a Th2-type inflammatory response.
The vascular growth factor angiopoietin 2 (Ang-2) is known to promote inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, but its prognostic capacity and relationship to outcomes in human sepsis are unknown. This is a prospective observational cohort study of 66 patients newly admitted to a tertiary care medical intensive care unit (ICU), which included ICU patients with no sepsis (n = 20) as well as those with sepsis (n = 10), severe sepsis (n = 12), and septic shock (n = 24). Clinical data were collected until hospital discharge, and Ang-2 and IL-6 levels were determined on specimens obtained after ICU admission. Serum Ang-2 correlated with IL-6 and severity-of-illness scores. In the septic cohort, circulating Ang-2 levels were significantly higher (P = 0.01) in those who died (24.9 ng/mL; interquartile range, 21.5-38.0 ng/mL) compared with those who survived (13.5 ng/mL; interquartile range, 8.1-21.6 ng/mL). Elevated circulating serum Ang-2 levels are associated with increased hospital mortality in patients with sepsis.
Mouse breast regression protein 39 (BRP-39; Chi3l1) and its human homologue YKL-40 are chitinase-like proteins that lack chitinase activity. Although YKL-40 is expressed in exaggerated quantities and correlates with disease activity in asthma and many other disorders, the biological properties of BRP-39/YKL-40 have only been rudimentarily defined. We describe the generation and characterization of BRP-39(-/-) mice, YKL-40 transgenic mice, and mice that lack BRP-39 and produce YKL-40 only in their pulmonary epithelium. Studies of these mice demonstrated that BRP-39(-/-) animals have markedly diminished antigen-induced Th2 responses and that epithelial YKL-40 rescues the Th2 responses in these animals. The ability of interleukin13 to induce tissue inflammation and fibrosis was also markedly diminished in the absence of BRP-39. Mechanistic investigations demonstrated that BRP-39 and YKL-40 play an essential role in antigen sensitization and immunoglobulin E induction, stimulate dendritic cell accumulation and activation, and induce alternative macrophage activation. These proteins also inhibit inflammatory cell apoptosis/cell death while inhibiting Fas expression, activating protein kinase B/AKT, and inducing Faim 3. These studies establish novel regulatory roles for BRP-39/YKL-40 in the initiation and effector phases of Th2 inflammation and remodeling and suggest that these proteins are therapeutic targets in Th2- and macrophage-mediated disorders.
Acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) is produced during and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of Th2-mediated diseases and antiparasite responses. However, the effector responses of AMCase in these settings have not been adequately defined and the relationship(s) between its chitinolytic and other biologic properties have not been investigated. In these studies, we demonstrate that AMCase protects airway epithelial cells from Fas ligand- and growth factor withdrawal-induced apoptosis. This cytoprotection was associated with Akt phosphorylation and abrogated when the PI3K/Akt pathway was inhibited. Comparable cytoprotection was also seen in experiments comparing wild-type AMCase and mutant AMCase that lacked chitinolytic activity. Importantly, the apoptosis-inhibiting effect of enzymatically active and inactive AMCase was abrogated by treatment with allosamidin. These studies demonstrate that secreted AMCase feeds back in an autocrine and/or paracrine manner to protect pulmonary epithelial cells from growth factor withdrawal- and Fas ligand-induced apoptosis. They also demonstrate that the cytoprotection is mediated via a PI3K/Akt-dependent and allosamidin-sensitive pathway that is independent of the chitinolytic activity of this chitinase.
Atopy or atopic syndrome is an allergic hypersensitivity subject to hereditary influences. Aberrant expression of chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1), also known as YKL-40 or HC gp-39, is involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and allergic diseases.
Chitin is a ubiquitous polysaccharide in fungi, insects, and parasites. We hypothesized that chitin is a size-dependent regulator of innate immunity. To test this hypothesis, we characterized the effects of chitins of different sizes on murine bronchoalveolar or peritoneal macrophages. In these studies, large chitin fragments were inert, while both intermediate-sized chitin (40-70 microm) and small chitin (SC; <40 microm, largely 2-10 microm) stimulated TNF elaboration. In contrast, only SC induced IL-10 elaboration. The effects of intermediate-sized chitin were mediated by pathways that involve TLR2, dectin-1, and NF-kappaB. In contrast, the effects of SC were mediated by TLR2-dependent and -independent, dectin-1-dependent pathways that involved the mannose receptor and spleen tyrosine kinase. Chitin contains size-dependent pathogen-associated molecular patterns that stimulate TLR2, dectin-1, and the mannose receptor, differentially activate NF-kappaB and spleen tyrosine kinase, and stimulate the production of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Although previous literature suggests that interleukin (IL)-13, a T-helper type 2 cell effector cytokine, might be involved in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH), direct proof is lacking. Furthermore, a potential mechanism underlying IL-13-induced PH has never been explored. This studys goal was to investigate the role and mechanism of IL-13 in the pathogenesis of PH. Lung-specific IL-13-overexpressing transgenic (Tg) mice were examined for hemodynamic changes and pulmonary vascular remodeling. IL-13 Tg mice spontaneously developed PH phenotype by the age of 2 mo with increased expression and activity of arginase 2 (Arg2). The role of Arg2 in the development of IL-13-stimulated PH was further investigated using Arg2 and IL-13 receptor ?2 (R?2) null mutant mice and the small-interfering RNA (siRNA)-silencing approach in vivo and in vitro, respectively. IL-13-stimulated medial thickening of pulmonary arteries and right ventricle systolic pressure were significantly decreased in the IL-13 Tg mice with Arg2 null mutation. On the other hand, the production of nitric oxide was further increased in the lungs of these mice. In our in vitro evaluations, the recombinant IL-13 treatment significantly enhanced the proliferation of human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells in an Arg2-dependent manner. The IL-13-stimulated cellular proliferation and the expression of Arg2 in hpaSMC were markedly decreased with IL-13R?2 siRNA silencing. Our studies demonstrate that IL-13 contributes to the development of PH via an IL-13R?2-Arg2-dependent pathway. The intervention of this pathway could be a potential therapeutic target in pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Dysregulated amphiregulin (AR) expression and EGR receptor (EGFR) activation have been described in animal models of pulmonary fibrosis and in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. However, the exact role of AR in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis has not been clearly defined. Here, we show that a potent profibrogenic cytokine TGF-?1 significantly induced the expression of AR in lung fibroblasts in vitro and in murine lungs in vivo. AR stimulated NIH3T3 fibroblast cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Silencing of AR expression by siRNA or chemical inhibition of EGFR signaling, utilizing AG1478 and gefitinib, significantly reduced the ability of TGF-?1 to stimulate fibroblast proliferation and expression of ?-smooth muscle actin, collagen, and other extracellular matrix-associated genes. TGF-?1-stimulated activation of Akt, ERK, and Smad signaling was also significantly inhibited by these interventions. Consistent with these in vitro findings, AR expression was impressively increased in the lungs of TGF-?1 transgenic mice, and either siRNA silencing of AR or chemical inhibition of EGFR signaling significantly reduced TGF-?1-stimulated collagen accumulation in the lung. These studies showed a novel regulatory role for AR in the pathogenesis of TGF-?1-induced pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, these studies suggest that AR, or AR-activated EGFR signaling, is a potential therapeutic target for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis associated with TGF-?1 activation.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) with pulmonary fibrosis is an important manifestation in systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) where it portends a poor prognosis. However, biomarkers that predict the development and or severity of SSc-ILD have not been validated, and the pathogenetic mechanisms that engender this pulmonary response are poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate in two different patient cohorts that the levels of chitotriosidase (Chit1) bioactivity and protein are significantly increased in the circulation and lungs of SSc patients compared with demographically matched controls. We also demonstrate that, compared with patients without lung involvement, patients with ILD show high levels of circulating Chit1 activity that correlate with disease severity. Murine modeling shows that in comparison with wild-type mice, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis was significantly reduced in Chit1?/? mice and significantly enhanced in lungs from Chit1 overexpressing transgenic animals. In vitro studies also demonstrated that Chit1 interacts with TGF-?1 to augment fibroblast TGF-? receptors 1 and 2 expression and TGF-?-induced Smad and MAPK/ERK activation. These studies indicate that Chit1 is potential biomarker for ILD in SSc and a therapeutic target in SSc-associated lung fibrosis and demonstrate that Chit1 augments TGF-?1 effects by increasing receptor expression and canonical and noncanonical TGF-?1 signaling.
Host antibacterial responses include mechanisms that kill bacteria, but also those that protect or tolerize the host to potentially damaging antibacterial effects. We determined that Chitinase 3-like-1 (Chi3l1), a conserved prototypic chitinase-like protein, is induced by Streptococcus pneumoniae and plays central roles in promoting bacterial clearance and mediating host tolerance. S. pneumoniae-infected Chi3l1 null mice exhibit exaggerated lung injury, inflammation and hemorrhage, more frequent bacterial dissemination, decreased bacterial clearance, and enhanced mortality compared to controls. Chi3l1 augments macrophage bacterial killing by inhibiting caspase-1-dependent macrophage pyroptosis and augments host tolerance by controlling inflammasome activation, ATP accumulation, expression of ATP receptor P2X7R, and production of thymic stromal lymphopoietin and type 1, type 2, and type 17 cytokines. These data demonstrate that Chi3l1 is induced during infection, where it promotes bacterial clearance while simultaneously augmenting host tolerance, and that these roles likely contributed to the retention of Chi3l1 over species and evolutionary time.
This report explains how our studies of asthma and Th2 inflammation led us to investigate the roles of chitinase-like proteins (CLPs) in lung injury and repair and puts forth an overall hypothesis that can explain the roles that these moieties play in biology and a hypothesis regarding the ways that dysregulated CLP expression may contribute to the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases. We test this hypothesis by assessing the contributions of the CLP breast regression protein (BRP)-39 in the pathogenesis of malignant melanoma metastasis to the lung.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation, alveolar destruction, and airway and vascular remodeling. However, the mechanisms that lead to these diverse alterations have not been defined.
Efficient clearance of apoptotic cells from the lung by alveolar macrophages is important for the maintenance of tissue structure and function. Lung tissue from humans with emphysema contains increased numbers of apoptotic cells and decreased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Mice treated with VEGF receptor inhibitors have increased numbers of apoptotic cells and develop emphysema. We hypothesized that VEGF regulates apoptotic cell clearance by alveolar macrophages (AM) via its interaction with VEGF receptor 1 (VEGF R1). Our data show that the uptake of apoptotic cells by murine AMs and human monocyte-derived macrophages is inhibited by depletion of VEGF and that VEGF activates Rac1. Antibody blockade or pharmacological inhibition of VEGF R1 activity also decreased apoptotic cell uptake ex vivo. Conversely, overexpression of VEGF significantly enhanced apoptotic cell uptake by AMs in vivo. These results indicate that VEGF serves a positive regulatory role via its interaction with VEGF R1 to activate Rac1 and enhance AM apoptotic cell clearance.
Supplemental oxygen is frequently prescribed. However, prolonged exposure to high concentrations of oxygen causes hyperoxic acute lung injury (HALI), which manifests as acute respiratory distress syndrome in adults and leads to bronchopulmonary dysplasia in newborns (NBs). Nitric oxide (NO), NO synthases (NOSs), and angiopoietin (Ang) 2 have been implicated in the pathogenesis of HALI. However, the mechanisms of the contributions of NOS/NO and the relationship(s) between NOS/NO and Ang2 have not been addressed. In addition, the relevance of these moieties in adults and NBs has not been evaluated. To address these issues, we compared the responses in hyperoxia of wild-type (NOS [+/+]) and NOS null (-/-) young adult and NB mice. When compared with NOS2(+/+) adult controls, NOS2(-/-) animals manifest exaggerated alveolar-capillary protein leak and premature death. These responses were associated with enhanced levels of structural cell death, enhanced expression of proapoptotic regulatory proteins, and Ang2. Importantly, silencing RNA knockdown of Ang2 decreased the levels of cell death and the expression of proapoptotic mediators. These effects were at least partially NOS2 specific, and were development dependent, because survival was similar in adult NOS3(+/+) and NOS3(-/-) mice and NB NOS2(+/+) and NOS2(-/-) mice, respectively. These studies demonstrate that NOS2 plays an important protective role in HALI in adult animals. They also demonstrate that this response is mediated, at least in part, by the ability of NOS2 to inhibit hyperoxia-induced Ang2 production and thereby decrease Ang2-induced tissue injury.
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