Absence of c-Jun NH<inf>2</inf>-terminal kinase 1 protects against house dust mite-induced pulmonary remodeling but not airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation

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Journal Article
American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 2014, 306 (9)
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Chronic allergic asthma leads to airway remodeling and subepithelial fibrosis via mechanisms not fully understood. Airway remodeling is amplified by profibrotic mediators, such as transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), which plays a cardinal role in various models of fibrosis. We recently have identified a critical role for c-Jun-NH2-terminal-kinase (JNK) 1 in augmenting the profibrotic effects of TGF-β1, linked to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of airway epithelial cells. To examine the role of JNK1 in house dust mite (HDM)-induced airway remodeling, we induced allergic airway inflammation in wild-type (WT) and JNK1-/- mice by intranasal administration of HDM extract. WT and JNK1-/- mice were sensitized with intranasal aspirations of HDM extract for 15 days over 3 wk. HDM caused similar increases in airway hyperresponsiveness, mucus metaplasia, and airway inflammation in WT and JNK1-/- mice. In addition, the profibrotic cytokine TGF-β1 and phosphorylation of Smad3 were equally increased in WT and JNK1-/- mice. In contrast, increases in collagen content in lung tissue induced by HDM were significantly attenuated in JNK1-/- mice compared with WT controls. Furthermore HDM-induced increases of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) protein and mRNA expression as well as the mesenchymal markers high-mobility group AT-hook 2 and collagen1A1 in WT mice were attenuated in JNK1-/- mice. The let-7 family of microRNAs has previously been linked to fibrosis. HDM exposure in WT mice and primary lung epithelial cells resulted in striking decreases in let-7g miRNA that were not observed in mice or primary lung epithelial cells lacking JNK1-/- mice. Overexpression of let-7g in lung epithelial cells reversed the HDM-induced increases in α-SMA. Collectively, these findings demonstrate an important requirement for JNK1 in promoting HDM-induced fibrotic airway remodeling. © 2014 the American Physiological Society.
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