Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original research
Role of the IL-33/ST2 axis in cigarette smoke-induced airways remodelling in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Background Efficient therapy and potential prophylaxis are confounded by current ignorance of the pathogenesis of airway remodelling and blockade in COPD.

Objective To explore the role of the IL-33/ST2 axis in cigarette smoke (CS) exposure-induced airways remodelling.

Methods C57BL/6, BALB/c and IL-1RL1 -/- mice exposed to CS were used to establish an animal surrogate of COPD (air-exposed=5~8, CS-exposed=6~12). Hallmarks of remodelling were measured in mice. Cigarette smoke extract (CSE)-induced proliferation and protein production in vitro by fibroblasts in the presence of anti-interleukin-33 (anti-IL-33) or hST2 antibodies were measured. Expression of IL-33 and ST2 and other remodelling hallmarks were measured, respectively, in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) (controls=20, COPD=20), serum (controls=59, COPD=90) and lung tissue sections (controls=11, COPD=7) from patients with COPD and controls.

Results Wild-type mice exposed to CS elevated expression of hallmarks of tissue remodelling in the lungs and also in the heart, spleen and kidneys, which were significantly abrogated in the IL-1RL1 -/- mice. Fibroblasts exposed to CSE, compared with control, exhibited early cellular translocation of IL-33, accompanied by proliferation and elevated protein synthesis, all inhabitable by blockade of IL-33/ST2 signalling. Expression of IL-33 and ST2 and hallmarks of tissue remodelling were significantly and proportionally elevated in BALF, serum and tissue samples from patients with COPD.

Conclusions Exposure to CS induces remodelling changes in multiple organs. The data support the hypothesis that CS-induced lung collagen deposition is at least partly a result of CS-induced IL-33 translocation and release from local fibroblasts.

  • COPD àü mechanisms
  • COPD pathology
  • cytokine biology

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All data used to support the findings of the current study are available from the corresponding authors upon request. Corresponding author, Professor Sun YingE-mail:; Phone (Office): (+86)10-83911743.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Airwaves
    The Triumvirate