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Mod Pathol. 2006 Nov;19(11):1437-45. Epub 2006 Aug 25.

The receptor for advanced glycation end products and its ligands: a new inflammatory pathway in lung disease?

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Dipartimento di Anatomia ed Istologia Patologica, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Università di Pavia, Pavia, Italy.


The binding of the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) with its ligands begins a sustained period of cellular activation and inflammatory signal amplification in different tissues and diseases. This binding could represent an as yet uninvestigated pathway of inflammatory reaction in the lung, where the presence of the receptor has been largely documented and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are produced by nonenzymatic glycation and oxidation of proteins and lipids, driven by smoke and pollutants exposure or inflammatory stress. We immunohistochemically assessed the expression of RAGE and of its major proinflammatory ligands, N-epsilon-carboxy-methyl-lysine, S100B and S-100A12 in normal lung and in non-neoplastic lung disorders including smoke-related airway disease, granulomatous inflammation, postobstructive damage and usual interstitial pneumonia. In normal lung low expression of the receptor was observed in bronchiolar epithelia, type II pneumocytes, macrophages and some endothelia. S100A12 and S100B were expressed, respectively, in granulocytes and in dendritic cells. Carboxy-methyl-lysine was present in bronchiolar epithelia and macrophages. In all pathological conditions associated with inflammation and lung damage overexpression of both the receptor and of AGEs was observed in bronchiolar epithelia, type II alveolar pneumocytes, alveolar macrophages and endothelia. RAGE overexpression was more evident in epithelia associated with inflammatory cell aggregates. Fibroblasts in usual interstitial pneumonia expressed both the receptor and AGEs. The number of S100A12 and S100B immunoreactive inflammatory cells was variable. S100A12 was also expressed in mononuclear inflammatory cells and in activated epithelia. The activation of the inflammatory pathway controlled by the RAGE is not specific of a single lung disease, however, it may be relevant as a nonspecific pathway of sustained inflammation in lung tissue, and on this basis therapeutic approaches based on receptor blockage can be envisaged.

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