Rapamycin Prevents Transforming Growth Factor-α–Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis

Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.
American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology (Impact Factor: 3.99). 03/2009; 41(5):562-72. DOI: 10.1165/rcmb.2008-0377OC
Source: PubMed


Transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha is a ligand for the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR activation is associated with fibroproliferative processes in human lung disease and animal models of pulmonary fibrosis. Overexpression of TGF-alpha in transgenic mice causes progressive and severe pulmonary fibrosis; however, the intracellular signaling pathways downstream of EGFR mediating this response are unknown. Using a doxycycline-regulatable transgenic mouse model of lung-specific TGF-alpha expression, we observed increased PCNA protein and phosphorylation of Akt and p70S6K in whole lung homogenates in association with induction of TGF-alpha. Induction in the lung of TGF-alpha caused progressive pulmonary fibrosis over a 7-week period. Daily administration of rapamycin prevented accumulation of total lung collagen, weight loss, and changes in pulmonary mechanics. Treatment of mice with rapamycin 4 weeks after the induction of TGF-alpha prevented additional weight loss, increases in total collagen, and changes in pulmonary mechanics. Rapamycin prevented further increases in established pulmonary fibrosis induced by EGFR activation. This study demonstrates that mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a major effector of EGFR-induced pulmonary fibrosis, providing support for further studies to determine the role of mTOR in the pathogenesis and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.

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    • "Rapamycin prevents airway myocyte differentiation into a contractile phenotype via blockade of the mTOR-p70S6K pathway [51]. It also inhibits transforming growth factor-α-induced pulmonary fibrotic response, which could contribute to subepithelial fibrosis and airway remodeling [52]. Further, mTOR may regulate angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, both of which play crucial roles in pulmonary vascular remodeling [53], [54]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is supposed to contribute to the pathogenesis of allergic airway disease. VEGF expression is regulated by a variety of stimuli such as nitric oxide, growth factors, and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α). Recently, inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) has been shown to alleviate cardinal asthmatic features, including airway hyperresponsiveness, eosinophilic inflammation, and increased vascular permeability in asthma models. Based on these observations, we have investigated whether mTOR is associated with HIF-1α-mediated VEGF expression in allergic asthma. In studies with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, we have elucidated the stimulatory role of a mTOR-HIF-1α-VEGF axis in allergic response. Next, the mechanisms by which mTOR is activated to modulate this response have been evaluated. mTOR is known to be regulated by phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt or protein kinase C-delta (PKC δ) in various cell types. Consistent with these, our results have revealed that suppression of PKC δ by rottlerin leads to the inhibition of PI3K/Akt activity and the subsequent blockade of a mTOR-HIF-1α-VEGF module, thereby attenuating typical asthmatic attack in a murine model. Thus, the present data indicate that PKC δ is necessary for the modulation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling cascade, resulting in a tight regulation of HIF-1α activity and VEGF expression. In conclusion, PKC δ may represent a valuable target for innovative therapeutic treatment of allergic airway disease.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Activation of the Akt-mTOR-p70S6K signaling pathway occurs in epidermal growth factor receptor-mediated pulmonary fibrosis.11 Effects of rapamycin on different phosphorylation sites in the mTOR/p70S6K pathway have been investigated, specifically to explore the action of the drug in TGF-β1-induced fibrosis. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose The present study was designed to determine whether rapamycin could inhibit transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1)-induced fibrogenesis in primary lung fibroblasts, and whether the effect of inhibition would occur through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and its downstream p70S6K pathway. Materials and Methods Primary normal human lung fibroblasts were obtained from histological normal lung tissue of 3 patients with primary spontaneous pneumothorax. Growth arrested, synchronized fibroblasts were treated with TGF-β1 (10 ng/mL) and different concentrations of rapamycin (0.01, 0.1, 1, 10 ng/mL) for 24 h. We assessed m-TOR, p-mTOR, S6K1, p-S6K1 by Western blot analysis, detected type III collagen and fibronectin secreting by ELISA assay, and determined type III collagen and fibronectin mRNA levels by real-time PCR assay. Results Rapamycin significantly reduced TGF-β1-induced type III collagen and fibronectin levels, as well as type III collagen and fibronectin mRNA levels. Furthermore, we also found that TGF-β1-induced mTOR and p70S6K phosphorylation were significantly down-regulated by rapamycin. The mTOR/p70S6K pathway was activated through the TGF-β1-mediated fibrogenic response in primary human lung fibroblasts. Conclusion These results indicate that rapamycin effectively suppresses TGF-β1-induced type III collagen and fibronectin levels in primary human lung fibroblasts partly through the mTOR/p70S6K pathway. Rapamycin has a potential value in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Yonsei medical journal
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    • "Rapamycin prevents airway myocyte differentiation into a contractile phenotype via blockade of the mTORC1/p70 S6 kinase pathway, which may reduce the intrinsic contractile properties of airway smooth muscle [28]. Rapamycin also inhibits TGF-α-induced pulmonary fibrotic responses, which could contribute to sub-epithelial fibrosis and airway remodeling [29]. Similarly, mTOR signaling may modulate angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, both of which play important roles in asthma pathogenesis [30], [31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) modulates immune responses and cellular proliferation. The objective of this study was to assess whether inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin modifies disease severity in two experimental murine models of house dust mite (HDM)-induced asthma. In an induction model, rapamycin was administered to BALB/c mice coincident with nasal HDM challenges for 3 weeks. In a treatment model, nasal HDM challenges were performed for 6 weeks and rapamycin treatment was administered during weeks 4 through 6. In the induction model, rapamycin significantly attenuated airway inflammation, airway hyperreactivity (AHR) and goblet cell hyperplasia. In contrast, treatment of established HDM-induced asthma with rapamycin exacerbated AHR and airway inflammation, whereas goblet cell hyperplasia was not modified. Phosphorylation of the S6 ribosomal protein, which is downstream of mTORC1, was increased after 3 weeks, but not 6 weeks of HDM-challenge. Rapamycin reduced S6 phosphorylation in HDM-challenged mice in both the induction and treatment models. Thus, the paradoxical effects of rapamycin on asthma severity paralleled the activation of mTOR signaling. Lastly, mediastinal lymph node re-stimulation experiments showed that treatment of rapamycin-naive T cells with ex vivo rapamycin decreased antigen-specific Th2 cytokine production, whereas prior exposure to in vivo rapamycin rendered T cells refractory to the suppressive effects of ex vivo rapamycin. We conclude that rapamycin had paradoxical effects on the pathogenesis of experimental HDM-induced asthma. Thus, consistent with the context-dependent effects of rapamycin on inflammation, the timing of mTOR inhibition may be an important determinant of efficacy and toxicity in HDM-induced asthma.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012 · PLoS ONE
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