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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 Jul;287(1):L143-52. Epub 2004 Mar 26.

Respiratory epithelial cells regulate lung inflammation in response to inhaled endotoxin.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, 98104, USA.


To determine the role of respiratory epithelial cells in the inflammatory response to inhaled endotoxin, we selectively inhibited NF-kappa B activation in the respiratory epithelium using a mutant I kappa B-alpha construct that functioned as a dominant negative inhibitor of NF-kappa B translocation (dnI kappa B-alpha). We developed two lines of transgenic mice in which expression of dnI kappa B-alpha was targeted to the distal airway epithelium using the human surfactant apoprotein C promoter. Transgene expression was localized to the epithelium of the terminal bronchioles and alveoli. After inhalation of LPS, nuclear translocation of NF-kappa B was evident in bronchiolar epithelium of nontransgenic but not of transgenic mice. This defect was associated with impaired neutrophilic lung inflammation 4 h after LPS challenge and diminished levels of TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, macrophage inflammatory protein-2, and KC in lung homogenates. Expression of TNF-alpha within bronchiolar epithelial cells and of VCAM-1 within peribronchiolar endothelial cells was reduced in transgenic animals. Thus targeted inhibition of NF-kappa B activation in distal airway epithelial cells impaired the inflammatory response to inhaled LPS. These data provide causal evidence that distal airway epithelial cells and the signals they transduce play a physiological role in lung inflammation in vivo.

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