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Fas activation alters tight junction proteins in acute lung injury


Background:The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is characterized by protein-rich oedema in the alveolar spaces, a feature in which Fas-mediated apoptosis of the alveolar epithelium has been involved.

Objective:To determine whether Fas activation increases protein permeability by mechanisms involving disruption of the paracellular tight junction (TJ) proteins in the pulmonary alveoli.

Methods: Protein permeability and the expression of TJ proteins were assessed in vivo in wild-type and Fas-deficient lpr mice 16 hours after the intratracheal instillation of recombinant human soluble Fas ligand (rh-sFasL), and at different time points in vitro in human pulmonary alveolar epithelial cells (HPAEpiC) exposed to rh-sFasL

Results:Activation of the Fas pathway increased protein permeability in mouse lungs and altered the expression of the TJ proteins occludin and zonula occludens-1 in the alveolar–capillary membrane in vivo and in human alveolar epithelial cell monolayers in vitro. Blockade of caspase-3, but not inhibition of tyrosine kinase dependent pathways, prevented the alterations in TJ protein expression and permeability induced by the Fas/FasL system in human alveolar cell monolayers in vitro. We also observed that both the Fas-induced increase of protein permeability and disruption of TJ proteins occurred before cell death could be detected in the cell monolayers in vitro.

Conclusion:Targeting caspase pathways could prevent the disruption of TJs and reduce the formation of lung oedema in the early stages of ARDS.

  • pulmonary oedema
  • innate immunity
  • ards

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