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FASEB J. 2013 Jun;27(6):2367-81. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-217083. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Regulation of Wnt4 in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Airways Disease Section, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with persistent inflammation and oxidative stress in susceptible individuals. Using microarray analysis of bronchial biopsy samples from patients with COPD and controls, we identified Wnt4 as being up-regulated in COPD. Analysis of bronchial biopsy samples showed a very strong correlation between Wnt4 and IL8 gene expression, suggesting that Wnt4 plays a role in chronic lung inflammation. In vitro, Wnt4 induced proliferation and inflammation in human epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) and normal primary human bronchial epithelial cells in a concentration-dependent manner. This effect was enhanced in the presence of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) as a result of activation of the p38 and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. Hydrogen peroxide, but not proinflammatory stimuli, up-regulated Wnt4 expression in epithelial cells. In monocytic THP-1 and primary airway smooth muscle cells, Wnt4 induced inflammation and enhanced the inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide and IL-1β but did not induce proliferation. In addition, these other cell types did not have enhanced Wnt4 expression in response to hydrogen peroxide. Our results indicate that airway epithelial activation, due to oxidative stress, may lead to Wnt4 induction. Wnt4, in turn, acts through the noncanonical pathway to activate epithelial cell remodeling and IL8 gene expression, leading to neutrophil infiltration and inflammation.


epithelial cells; inflammation; proliferation

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