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J Immunol. 2015 Sep 1;195(5):2429-41. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500356. Epub 2015 Jul 24.

The TNF Family Molecules LIGHT and Lymphotoxin αβ Induce a Distinct Steroid-Resistant Inflammatory Phenotype in Human Lung Epithelial Cells.

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Division of Immune Regulation, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, CA 92037;
Janssen Research and Development, Immunology Discovery Research, Spring House, PA 19002; and.
Janssen Research and Development, San Diego, CA 92121.
Division of Immune Regulation, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, CA 92037;


Lung epithelial cells are considered important sources of inflammatory molecules and extracellular matrix proteins that contribute to diseases such as asthma. Understanding the factors that stimulate epithelial cells may lead to new insights into controlling lung inflammation. This study sought to investigate the responsiveness of human lung epithelial cells to the TNF family molecules LIGHT and lymphotoxin αβ (LTαβ). Bronchial and alveolar epithelial cell lines, and primary human bronchial epithelial cells, were stimulated with LIGHT and LTαβ, and expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines and markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and fibrosis/remodeling was measured. LTβ receptor, the receptor shared by LIGHT and LTαβ, was constitutively expressed on all epithelial cells. Correspondingly, LIGHT and LTαβ strongly induced a limited but highly distinct set of inflammatory genes in all epithelial cells tested, namely the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1; the chemokines CCL5, CCL20, CXCL1, CXCL3, CXCL5, and CXCL11; the cytokines IL-6, activin A and GM-CSF; and metalloproteinases matrix metalloproteinase-9 and a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain-8. Importantly, induction of the majority of these inflammatory molecules was insensitive to the suppressive effects of the corticosteroid budesonide. LIGHT and LTαβ also moderately downregulated E-cadherin, a protein associated with maintaining epithelial integrity, but did not significantly drive production of extracellular matrix proteins or α-smooth muscle actin. Thus, LIGHT and LTαβ induce a distinct steroid-resistant inflammatory signature in airway epithelial cells via constitutively expressed LTβ receptor. These findings support our prior murine studies that suggested the receptors for LIGHT and LTαβ contribute to development of lung inflammation characteristic of asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

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