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Hum Immunol. 2003 May;64(5):521-9.

Anti-HLA class I antibody binding to airway epithelial cells induces production of fibrogenic growth factors and apoptotic cell death: a possible mechanism for bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome.

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Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Development of anti-HLA class I antibodies is associated with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) after lung transplantation. BOS is characterized histologically by significant fibrosis and airway epithelial cell (AEC) apoptosis. Thus, this study was designed to determine whether anti-HLA class I antibodies can activate AECs to produce growth factors and to undergo apoptosis. KCC-266 AECs were activated with the W6/32 anti-HLA class I monoclonal antibody. Proliferation and apoptosis levels were determined after 24, 48, and 72 hours. The induction of fibroblast and bronchial smooth muscle cell proliferation by anti-HLA class I activated AECs was assessed in the presence of neutralizing antibodies against various growth factors. The anti-HLA class I induced AEC proliferation after 24 hours followed by significant induction of apoptosis after 48 hours. Anti-HLA class I activated AECs produced soluble growth factors that stimulated fibroblasts but not bronchial smooth muscle cells. The stimulation of fibroblast proliferation was inhibited by antibodies against platelet-derived growth factor, heparin-binding epidermal growth factor, insulin-like growth factor 1, and basic fibroblast growth factor. The results from this study suggest that anti-HLA class I alloantibodies may play an important role in the pathogenesis of BOS by inducing proliferation, growth factor production, and apoptotic cell death in AECs.

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