Overexpression of IL-38 protein in anticancer drug-induced lung injury and acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
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BACKGROUND: Interleukin (IL)-38, a member of the IL-1 family, shows high homology to IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) and IL-36 receptor antagonist (IL-36Ra). Its function in interstitial lung disease (ILD) is still unknown. METHODS: To determine the expression pattern of IL-38 mRNA, a panel of cDNAs derived from various tissues was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR. Immunohistochemical reactivity with anti-human IL-38 monoclonal antibody (clone H127C) was evaluated semi-quantitatively in lung tissue samples from 12 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis/usual interstitial pneumonia (IPF/UIP), 5 with acute exacerbation of IPF, and 10 with anticancer drug-induced ILD (bleomycin in 5 and epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitor in 5). Control lung tissues were obtained from areas of normal lung in 22 lung cancer patients who underwent extirpation surgery. RESULTS: IL-38 transcripts were strongly expressed in the lung, spleen, synoviocytes, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and at a lower level in pancreas and muscle. IL-38 protein was not strongly expressed in normal pulmonary alveolar tissues in all 22 control lungs. In contrast, IL-38 was overexpressed in the lungs of 4 of 5 (80%) patients with acute IPF exacerbation and 100% (10/10) of the patients with drug-induced ILD. IL-38 overexpression was limited to hyperplastic type II pneumocytes, which are considered to reflect regenerative change following diffuse alveolar damage in ILD. CONCLUSIONS: IL-38 may play an important role in acute and/or chronic inflammation in anticancer drug-induced lung injury and acute exacerbation of IPF.
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