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Am J Physiol. 1997 Sep;273(3 Pt 1):L663-75.

Alveolar epithelial cells in vitro produce gelatinases and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-2.

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Unité U296 de l'Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, Créteil, France.


Type II pneumocytes are key cells of the alveolar epithelium. They lie on the alveolar basement membrane, which influences their phenotype and functions. We hypothesized that type II pneumocytes degrade basement membrane components by producing gelatinases, members of the matrix metalloproteinase family. To investigate this hypothesis, we used primary cultures of rat type II pneumocytes and cultures of the human A549 cell line. We found by zymography that 70-kDa gelatinase was present in media conditioned by these cells. This 70-kDa gelatinase was identified as gelatinase A by a Western blot, and the presence of its mRNA was demonstrated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. A 95-kDa gelatinase could be induced under certain conditions. Production of gelatinases may take place during the turnover of basement membranes, in physiological and in pathophysiological processes. This was suggested by the increase in production of both gelatinases that we observed after in vitro exposure to LPS or interleukin-1. The presence of tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinase-1 and -2 was also demonstrated, suggesting that degradation of extracellular matrix by type II pneumocytes is tightly regulated.

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