Upregulation of IL-17A/F from human lung tissue explants with cigarette smoke exposure: implications for COPD
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BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory disorder marked by relative resistance to steroids. The IL-17 superfamily, which mediates cross-talk between the adaptive and innate immune systems, has been associated with diminished responses to steroids. Increasing evidence supports elevated IL-17 expression in the lung of COPD subjects. However, whether cells of the immune system (systemic) and/or local lung cells are contributing to the elevated IL-17 remains unclear. To address this issue, we utilized a human parenchymal lung tissue explant culture system with cigarette smoke exposure to investigate the expression of IL-17 and the mechanisms involved. METHODS: Parenchymal lung tissue removed from 10 non-COPD and 8 COPD patients was sectioned and cultured with different concentrations of cigarette smoke extract (CSE) for 3 or 6 hours. Tissue viability was evaluated by LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) in culture supernatants. Western blot and real-time PCR were performed to evaluate IL-17A/F expression. To investigate the mechanisms, pharmacological inhibitors for MAPK p38, ERK1/2, NF-κB and PI3K pathways were added into the culture media. RESULTS: No tissue damage was observed after the cigarette smoke exposure for 3 h or 6 h compared with the control media. At the protein level, the expression of both IL-17A (2.4 ± 0.6 fold) and IL-17 F (3.7 ± 0.7 fold) in the tissue from non-COPD subjects was significantly increased by 5% of CSE at 3 h. For COPD subjects, IL-17A/F expression were significantly increased only at 6 h with 10% of CSE (IL-17A: 4.2 ± 0.8 fold; IL-17 F: 3.3 ± 0.8 fold). The increased expression of IL-17A/F is also regulated at the mRNA level. The inhibitors for NF-κB and PI3K pathways significantly inhibited CSE-induced IL-17A/F expression from lung tissue of non-COPD subjects. CONCLUSIONS: We found the evidence that the expression of both IL-17A and IL-17 F is increased by the cigarette smoke exposure in explants from both non-COPD and COPD subjects, supporting that local lung cells contribute IL-17 production. The elevated IL-17A/F expression is dependent on NF-κB and PI3K pathways. These observations add to the growing evidence which suggests that Th17 cytokines play a significant role in COPD.
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