Myeloid- and Epithelial-Derived HBEGF Promotes Pulmonary Fibrosis

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American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a poorly understood, progressive lethal lung disease with no known cure. In addition to alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) injury and excessive deposition of extracellular matrix proteins, chronic inflammation is a hallmark of IPF. Literature suggests that the persistent inflammation seen in IPF primarily consists of monocytes and macrophages. Recent work demonstrates that monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages (moAMs) drive lung fibrosis, but further characterization of critical moAM cell attributes is necessary. Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is an important EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) ligand that has essential roles in angiogenesis, wound healing, keratinocyte migration, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Our past work has shown HB-EGF is a primary marker of profibrotic M2 macrophages, and this study seeks to characterize myeloid-derived HB-EGF and its primary mechanism of action in bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis using Hbegff/f;Lyz2Cre+ mice. Here, we show that IPF patients and fibrotic mice have increased expression of HB-EGF and that lung macrophages and transitional alveolar epithelial cells of fibrotic mice and humans all express HB-EGF. We also show that Hbegff/f;Lyz2Cre+ mice are protected from bleomycin-induced fibrosis and that this protection is likely multifactorial, caused by decreased CCL2-dependent monocyte migration, decreased fibroblast migration, and decreased contribution of HB-EGF from AEC sources when HB-EGF is removed under the Lyz2Cre promoter.

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ePub ahead of print