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J Immunol. 2013 Jan 1;190(1):438-46. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201827. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

YKL-40 induces IL-8 expression from bronchial epithelium via MAPK (JNK and ERK) and NF-κB pathways, causing bronchial smooth muscle proliferation and migration.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200003, People's Republic of China.


Recently, the serum levels of YKL-40, a chitinase-like glycoprotein, have been shown to be significantly elevated in asthmatics and are associated with asthma severity. Although these studies raise the possibility that YKL-40 may influence asthma, the mechanisms remain unknown. This study firstly investigated the mechanisms involved in YKL-40-mediated inflammation in human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) and analyzed the soluble factors secreted by bronchial epithelial cells exposed to YKL-40 that were responsible for increasing proliferation and migration of primary normal human bronchial smooth muscle cells (BSMCs). YKL-40-induced inflammation was assayed in two HBECs (BEAS-2B cell line and primary HBECs). In addition, we treated BEAS-2B cells and HBECs with YKL-40 and added the conditioned culture media to BSMCs. The proliferation and migration of BSMCs were determined by premixed WST-1 cell proliferation reagent (Clontech Laboratories) and QCM chemotaxis migration assay (Millipore), respectively. Bronchial epithelial cells treated with YKL-40 resulted in a significant increase of IL-8 production, which was dependent on MAPK (JNK and ERK) and NF-κB pathways activation. YKL-40-induced IL-8 was found to further stimulate proliferation and migration of BSMCs, and the effects were inhibited after neutralizing IL-8. Through investigating the interaction of airway epithelium and smooth muscle, our findings implicate that YKL-40 may be involved in the inflammation of asthma by induction of IL-8 from epithelium, subsequently contributing to BSMC proliferation and migration. Moreover, inhibition of IL-8 signaling is a potential therapeutic target for YKL-40-induced inflammation and remodeling of asthma.

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