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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2011 Mar;44(3):350-60. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2009-0422OC. Epub 2010 May 6.

Neutral sphingomyelinase 2: a novel target in cigarette smoke-induced apoptosis and lung injury.

Author information

1
Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California Davis, School of Medicine, USA.

Abstract

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is caused by exposure to cigarette smoke (CS). One mechanism of CS-induced lung injury is aberrant generation of ceramide, which leads to elevated apoptosis of epithelial and endothelial cells in the alveolar spaces. Recently, we discovered that CS-induced ceramide generation and apoptosis in pulmonary cells is governed by neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase) 2. In the current experiments, we expanded our studies to investigate whether nSMase2 governs ceramide generation and apoptosis in vivo using rodent and human models of CS-induced lung injury. We found that exposure of mice or rats to CS leads to colocalizing elevations of ceramide levels and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated X-dUTP nick end labeling-positive cells in lung tissues. These increases are nSMase2 dependent, and are abrogated by treatment with N-acetyl cysteine or anti-nSMase2 small interfering RNA (siRNA). We further showed that mice that are heterozygous for nSMase2 demonstrate significant decrease in ceramide generation after CS exposure, whereas acidic sphingomyelinase (aSMase) knockout mice maintain wild-type ceramide levels, confirming our previous findings (in human airway epithelial cells) that only nSMase2, and not aSMase, is activated by CS exposure. Lastly, we found that lung tissues from patients with emphysema (smokers) display significantly higher levels of nSMase2 expression compared with lung tissues from healthy control subjects. Taken together, these data establish the central in vivo role of nSMase2 in ceramide generation, aberrant apoptosis, and lung injury under CS exposure, underscoring its promise as a novel target for the prevention of CS-induced airspace destruction.

PMID:
20448054
PMCID:
PMC3095936
DOI:
10.1165/rcmb.2009-0422OC
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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