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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2014 Mar 15;306(6):L487-96. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00284.2013. Epub 2014 Jan 17.

Macrophage migration inhibitory factor deficiency in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Yale Univ. School of Medicine, PO Box 208057, 300 Cedar St., New Haven, CT 06520-8057.


The pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remains poorly understood. Cellular senescence and apoptosis contribute to the development of COPD; however, crucial regulators of these underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a pleiotropic cytokine that antagonizes both apoptosis and premature senescence and may be important in the pathogenesis of COPD. This study examines the role of MIF in the pathogenesis of COPD. Mice deficient in MIF (Mif(-/-)) or the MIF receptor CD74 (Cd74(-/-)) and wild-type (WT) controls were aged for 6 mo. Both Mif(-/-) and Cd74(-/-) mice developed spontaneous emphysema by 6 mo of age compared with WT mice as measured by lung volume and chord length. This was associated with activation of the senescent pathway markers p53/21 and p16. Following exposure to cigarette smoke, Mif(-/-) mice were more susceptible to the development of COPD and apoptosis compared with WT mice. MIF plasma concentrations were measured in a cohort of 224 human participants. Within a subgroup of older current and former smokers (n = 72), MIF concentrations were significantly lower in those with COPD [8.8, 95%CI (6.7-11.0)] compared with those who did not exhibit COPD [12.7 ng/ml, 95%CI (10.6-14.8)]. Our results suggest that both MIF and the MIF receptor CD74 are required for maintenance of normal alveolar structure in mice and that decreases in MIF are associated with COPD in human subjects.


CD74; COPD; MIF; apoptosis; emphysema; senescence

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