Alveolar type II epithelial (ATII) cell injury precedes development of pulmonary fibrosis. Mice lacking urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) are highly susceptible, whereas those deficient in plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) are resistant to lung injury and pulmonary fibrosis. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been considered, at least in part, as a source of myofibroblast formation during fibrogenesis. However, the contribution of altered expression of major components of the uPA system on ATII cell EMT during lung injury is not well understood. To investigate whether changes in uPA and PAI-1 by ATII cells contribute to EMT, ATII cells from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and mice with bleomycin-, transforming growth factor β-, or passive cigarette smoke-induced lung injury were analyzed for uPA, PAI-1, and EMT markers. We found reduced expression of E-cadherin and zona occludens-1, whereas collagen-I and α-smooth muscle actin were increased in ATII cells isolated from injured lungs. These changes were associated with a parallel increase in PAI-1 and reduced uPA expression. Further, inhibition of Src kinase activity using caveolin-1 scaffolding domain peptide suppressed bleomycin-, transforming growth factor β-, or passive cigarette smoke-induced EMT and restored uPA expression while suppressing PAI-1. These studies show that induction of PAI-1 and inhibition of uPA during fibrosing lung injury lead to EMT in ATII cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine