Epithelial Expression of Profibrotic Mediators in a Model of Allergen-Induced Airway Remodeling
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Airway remodeling, including subepithelial fibrosis, is a characteristic feature of asthma and likely contributes to the pathogenesis of airway hyperresponsiveness. We examined expression of genes related to airway wall fibrosis in a model of chronic allergen-induced airway dysfunction using laser capture microdissection and quantitative real-time PCR. BALB/c mice were sensitized and subjected to chronic ovalbumin exposure over a 12-wk period, after which they were rested and then harvested 2 and 8 wk after the last exposure. Chronic allergen-exposed mice had significantly increased indices of airway remodeling and airway hyperreactivity at all time points, although no difference in expression of fibrosis-related genes was found when mRNA extracted from whole lung was examined. In contrast, fibrosis-related gene expression was significantly upregulated in mRNA obtained from microdissected bronchial wall at 2 wk after chronic allergen exposure. In addition, when bronchial wall epithelium and smooth muscle were separately microdissected, gene expression of transforming growth factor-beta1 and plasminogen activating inhibitor-1 were significantly upregulated only in the airway epithelium. These data suggest that transforming growth factor-beta1 and other profibrotic mediators produced by airway wall, and specifically, airway epithelium, play an important role in the pathophysiology of airway remodeling.