Fibulin-1 regulates the pathogenesis of tissue remodeling in respiratory diseases
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Airway and/or lung remodeling, involving exaggerated extracellular matrix (ECM) protein deposition, is a critical feature common to pulmonary diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Fibulin-1 (Fbln1), an important ECM protein involved in matrix organization, may be involved in the pathogenesis of these diseases. We found that Fbln1 was increased in COPD patients and in cigarette smoke-induced (CS-induced) experimental COPD in mice. Genetic or therapeutic inhibition of Fbln1c protected against CS-induced airway fibrosis and emphysema-like alveolar enlargement. In experimental COPD, this occurred through disrupted collagen organization and interactions with fibronectin, periostin, and tenascin-c. Genetic inhibition of Fbln1c also reduced levels of pulmonary inflammatory cells and proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines (TNF-α, IL-33, and CXCL1) in experimental COPD. Fbln1c-/- mice also had reduced airway remodeling in experimental chronic asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. Our data show that Fbln1c may be a therapeutic target in chronic respiratory diseases.