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Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and airway remodelling after human lung transplantation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lee Borthwick, Dr Sean Parker, Kate Brougham, Marta Gorowiec, Professor Christopher WardORCiD, Dr James Lordan, Emeritus Professor Nick Europe-Finner, Emeritus Professor John Kirby, Professor Andrew FisherORCiD



Background: Aberrant epithelial repair is a key event in the airway remodelling which characterises obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) in the transplanted lung. The potential for airway epithelium from lung transplant recipients to undergo epithelial to mesenchymal cell transition (EMT) was assessed in culture and in vivo in lung allograft tissue. Methods: Change in epithelial and mesenchymal marker expression was assessed after stimulation with transforming growth factor beta(1) (TGF-beta(1)) alone or in combination with tumour necrosis factor a (TNF alpha) and compared with untreated controls. The ability of cells to deposit extracellular matrix, secrete matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and invade collagen was investigated. Immunolocalisation of epithelial and mesenchymal markers was compared in airway tissue from stable recipients and those with OB. Results: Untreated cells maintained epithelial morphology and phenotype. TGF-beta(1) reduced expression of epithelial markers, increased expression of vimentin and fibronectin, promoted collagen I and fibronectin deposition and increased MMP-9 production. Co-treatment with TNFa dramatically accentuated phenotypic and some functional features of EMT. Airway epithelial biopsies from recipients with OB demonstrated significantly increased staining for mesenchymal markers and significantly reduced E-cadherin staining compared with stable recipients. Conclusions: These observations demonstrate the ability of human airway epithelium to undergo EMT and suggest this phenomenon may be a potential link between inflammatory injury and TGF-beta(1)-driven airway remodelling in the development of OB.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Borthwick LA, Parker SM, Brougham KA, Johnson GE, Gorowiec MR, Ward C, Lordan JL, Corris PA, Kirby JA, Fisher AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Thorax

Year: 2009

Volume: 64

Issue: 9

Pages: 770-777

Date deposited: 21/06/2010

ISSN (print): 0040-6376

ISSN (electronic): 1468-3296

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/thx.2008.104133


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