Role of Sonic Hedgehog in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Alfredo Lozano Bolaños, Criselda Mendoza Milla, José Cisneros Lira, Remedios Ramírez, Marco Checa, Lourdes Barrera, Jorge García-Alvarez, Verónica Carbajal, Carina Becerril, Miguel Gaxiola, Annie Pardo, Moisés Selman
American Journal of Physiology. Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 2012 December 1, 303 (11): L978-90
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and lethal disease of unknown etiology and uncertain pathogenic mechanisms. Recent studies indicate that the pathogenesis of the disease may involve the abnormal expression of certain developmental pathways. Here we evaluated the expression of Sonic Hedgehog (SHH), Patched-1, Smoothened, and transcription factors glioma-associated oncogene homolog (GLI)1 and GLI2 by RT-PCR, as well as their localization in IPF and normal lungs by immunohistochemistry. The effects of SHH on fibroblast proliferation, migration, collagen and fibronectin production, and apoptosis were analyzed by WST-1, Boyden chamber chemotaxis, RT-PCR, Sircol, and annexin V-propidium iodide binding assays, respectively. Our results showed that all the main components of the Sonic signaling pathway were overexpressed in IPF lungs. With the exception of Smoothened, they were also upregulated in IPF fibroblasts. SHH and GLI2 localized to epithelial cells, whereas Patched-1, Smoothened, and GLI1 were observed mainly in fibroblasts and inflammatory cells. No staining was detected in normal lungs. Recombinant SHH increased fibroblast proliferation (P < 0.05), collagen synthesis, (2.5 ± 0.2 vs. 4.5 ± 1.0 μg of collagen/ml; P < 0.05), fibronectin expression (2-3-fold over control), and migration (190.3 ± 12.4% over control, P < 0.05). No effect was observed on α-smooth muscle actin expression. SHH protected lung fibroblasts from TNF-α/IFN-γ/Fas-induced apoptosis (14.5 ± 3.2% vs. 37.3 ± 7.2%, P < 0.0001). This protection was accompanied by modifications in several apoptosis-related proteins, including increased expression of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis. These findings indicate that the SHH pathway is activated in IPF lungs and that SHH may contribute to IPF pathogenesis by increasing the proliferation, migration, extracellular matrix production, and survival of fibroblasts.

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