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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2006 Mar;34(3):274-85. Epub 2005 Nov 4.

Beta-catenin in the fibroproliferative response to acute lung injury.

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Department of Medicine, Pulmonary Sciences & Critical Care Medicine, Univ. of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


Resolution of alveolar epithelial/capillary membrane damage after acute lung injury requires coordinated and effective tissue repair to reestablish a functional alveolar epithelial/capillary membrane barrier. We hypothesized that signaling pathways important in lung alveolar bud ontogeny are activated in the recovery and remodeling phases after profound oxidant stress lung injury in a murine model. To test this, we characterized the expression of noncanonical beta-catenin pathway proteins E-cadherin, integrin-linked kinase-1, and beta-catenin in mice undergoing normoxic recovery after exposure to butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT, ionol) and concomitant sublethal (75% O2) hyperoxia. Mice developed early acute lung injury with subsequent inflammation, collagen deposition, interstitial cellular proliferation, and lung architectural distortion. Reduced E-cadherin expression after 6 d of BHT and hyperoxia was accompanied by enhanced expression and nuclear localization of beta-catenin and increased integrin-linked kinase-1 expression during subsequent normoxic recovery. This resulted in increased expression of the cotranscriptional regulators TCF-1 and -3 and cyclin D1. Proliferation of murine lung epithelial-12 cells in vitro after 8 h of treatment with BHT quinone-methide and hyperoxia and 48 h of normoxic recovery was enhanced 2.7-fold compared with vehicle-treated control mice at the same time point. BHT/hyperoxia-exposed mice treated with the pan-caspase inhibitor z-ASP had increased acute lung injury and reduced survival despite the presence of TUNEL-positive cells, suggesting enhanced lung cell necrosis. Beta-catenin expression was reduced in z-ASP-co-treated lungs after BHT/hyperoxia. The noncanonical cadherin-beta-catenin axis is associated with fibroproliferative repair after BHT/hyperoxia exposure and may regulate epithelial proliferation and lung matrix remodeling and repair in response to lung injury.

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