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Cell Signal. 2018 Dec;52:103-111. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2018.08.020. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

Wnt5a contributes to dectin-1 and LOX-1 induced host inflammatory response signature in Aspergillus fumigatus keratitis.

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Department of Ophthalmology, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China.
Department of Ophthalmology, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China. Electronic address:


Fungal keratitis causes devastating corneal ulcers which can result in significant visual impairment and even blindness. As a ligand that activates the non-canonical Wnt signaling pathways, Wnt5a triggers the production of important inflammatory chemokines and the chemotactic migration of neutrophils. In this study we aimed to characterize the role of Wnt5a production, in situ, in vivo and in vitro in response to fungal keratitis. Wnt5a expression in corneas of Aspergillus fumigatus (A. fumigatus) keratitis patients was determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and immunofluorescence. In vivo and in vitro experiments were then performed in mouse models and THP-1 macrophages cell cultures infected with A. fumigatus, respectively. C57BL/6 mice were pretreated with siRNAs or neutralizing antibodies for dectin-1, LOX-1 and Wnt5a, or inhibitors of erk1/2 and JNK. Changes in Wnt5a expression were assessed by clinical evaluation, qRT-PCR, immunofluorescence, western blot and bioluminescence imaging system image acquisition. We confirmed that corneal Wnt5a expression increased with A. fumigatus keratitis in patients and a murine model. Wnt5a production was dependent on dectin-1 and LOX-1 expression with contributions by Erk1/2 and JNK pathways. Additionally, Wnt5a knockdown revealed decreased levels of MPO, lower neutrophil recruitment, and a higher fungal load in mouse models. Compared with controls, Wnt5a knockdown impaired pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β production in response to A. fumigatus exposure. Wnt5a also produces dectin-1 and LOX-1 induced inflammatory signature via effective neutrophil recruitment and inflammatory cytokine production in response to A. fumigatus keratitis. These findings demonstrate that Wnt5a is a critical component of the antifungal immune response.


Aspergillus fumigatus; Inflammation; Keratitis; Signaling pathway; Wnt5a

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