In COPD, matrix remodeling contributes to airflow limitation. Recent evidence suggests that next to fibroblasts, the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition can contribute to matrix remodeling. CSE has been shown to induce EMT in lung epithelial cells, but the signaling mechanisms involved are largely unknown and subject of this study. EMT was assessed in A549 and BEAS2B cells stimulated with CSE by qPCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescence for epithelial and mesenchymal markers, as were collagen production, cell adhesion and barrier integrity as functional endpoints. Involvement of TGF-beta and HIF1alpha signaling pathways were investigated. In addition, mouse models were used to examine the effects of CS on hypoxia signaling and of hypoxia per se on mesenchymal expression. CSE induced EMT characteristics in A549 and BEAS2B cells, evidenced by decreased expression of epithelial markers and a concomitant increase in mesenchymal marker expression after CSE exposure. Furthermore cells that underwent EMT showed increased production of collagen, decreased adhesion and disrupted barrier integrity. The induction of EMT was found to be independent of TGF-beta signaling. On the contrary, CS was able to induce hypoxic signaling in A549 and BEAS2B cells as well as in mice lung tissue. Importantly, HIF1alpha knock-down prevented induction of mesenchymal markers, increased collagen production and decreased adhesion after CSE exposure, data that are in line with the observed induction of mesenchymal marker expression by hypoxia in vitro and in vivo. Together these data provide evidence that both bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells undergo a functional phenotypic shift in response to CSE exposure which can contribute to increased collagen deposition in COPD lungs. Moreover, HIF1alpha signaling appears to play an important role in this process.
- OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY-DISEASE
- GROWTH-FACTOR BETA(1)
- AIRWAY EPITHELIUM
- MATRIX PROTEINS
- CHRONIC HYPOXIA