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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 26;286(34):30211-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.238824. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

TLR4 protein contributes to cigarette smoke-induced matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) expression in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Cigarette smoke is the major risk factor associated with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and alters expression of proteolytic enzymes that contribute to disease pathology. Previously, we reported that smoke exposure leads to the induction of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) through the activation of ERK1/2, which is critical to the development of emphysema. To date, the upstream signaling pathway by which cigarette smoke induces MMP-1 expression has been undefined. This study demonstrates that cigarette smoke mediates MMP-1 expression via activation of the TLR4 signaling cascade. In vitro cell culture studies demonstrated that cigarette smoke-induced MMP-1 was regulated by TLR4 via MyD88/IRAK1. Blockade of TLR4 or inhibition of IRAK1 prevented cigarette smoke induction of MMP-1. Mice exposed to acute levels of cigarette smoke exhibited increased TLR4 expression. To further confirm the in vivo relevance of this signaling pathway, rabbits exposed to acute cigarette smoke were found to have elevated TLR4 signaling and subsequent MMP-1 expression. Additionally, lungs from smokers exhibited elevated TLR4 and MMP-1 levels. Therefore, our data indicate that TLR4 signaling, through MyD88 and IRAK1, plays a predominant role in MMP-1 induction by cigarette smoke. The identification of the TLR4 pathway as a regulator of smoke-induced protease production presents a series of novel targets for future therapy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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