JOURNAL ARTICLE

Endothelin-1 and transforming growth factor-beta1 independently induce fibroblast resistance to apoptosis via AKT activation

Priya Kulasekaran, Casey A Scavone, David S Rogers, Douglas A Arenberg, Victor J Thannickal, Jeffrey C Horowitz
American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 2009, 41 (4): 484-93
19188658
Myofibroblast apoptosis is critical for the normal resolution of wound repair responses, and impaired myofibroblast apoptosis is associated with tissue fibrosis. Lung expression of endothelin (ET)-1, a soluble peptide implicated in fibrogenesis, is increased in murine models of pulmonary fibrosis and in the lungs of humans with pulmonary fibrosis. Mechanistically, ET-1 has been shown to induce fibroblast proliferation, differentiation, contraction, and collagen synthesis. In this study, we examined the role ET-1 in the regulation of lung fibroblast survival and apoptosis. ET-1 rapidly activates the prosurvival phosphatidylinositol 3'-OH kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling pathway in normal and fibrotic human lung fibroblasts. ET-1-induced activation of PI3K/AKT is dependent on p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2, JNK, or transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1. Activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway by ET-1 inhibits fibroblast apoptosis, and this inhibition is reversed by blockade of p38 MAPK or PI3K. TGF-beta1 has been shown to attenuate myofibroblast apoptosis through the p38 MAPK-dependent secretion of a soluble factor, which activates PI3K/AKT. In this study, we show that, although TGF-beta1 induces fibroblast synthesis and secretion of ET-1, TGF-beta1 activation of PI3K/AKT is not dependent on ET-1. We conclude that ET-1 and TGF-beta1 independently promote fibroblast resistance to apoptosis through signaling pathways involving p38 MAPK and PI3K/AKT. These findings suggest the potential for novel therapies targeting the convergence of prosurvival signaling pathways activated by these two profibrotic mediators.

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