• Identification of TGF-β receptor-1 as a key regulator of carbon nanotube-induced fibrogenesis.

Identification of TGF-β receptor-1 as a key regulator of carbon nanotube-induced fibrogenesis.

American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology (2015-10-17)
Anurag Mishra, Todd A Stueckle, Robert R Mercer, Raymond Derk, Yon Rojanasakul, Vincent Castranova, Liying Wang

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) induce rapid interstitial lung fibrosis, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Previous studies indicated that the ability of CNTs to penetrate lung epithelium, enter interstitial tissue, and stimulate fibroblasts to produce collagen matrix is important to lung fibrosis. In this study, we investigated the activation of transforming growth factor-β receptor-1 [TGF-β R1; i.e., activin receptor-like kinase 5 (ALK5) receptor] and TGF-β/Smad signaling pathway in CNT-induced collagen production in human lung fibroblasts. Human lung fibroblasts and epithelial cells were exposed to low, physiologically relevant concentrations (0.02-0.6 μg/cm(2)) of single-walled CNTs (SWCNT) and multiwalled CNTs (MWCNT) in culture and analyzed for collagen, TGF-β1, TGF-β R1, and SMAD proteins by Western blotting and immunofluorescence. Chemical inhibition of ALK5 and short-hairpin (sh) RNA targeting of TGF-β R1 and Smad2 were used to probe the fibrogenic mechanism of CNTs. Both SWCNT and MWCNT induced an overexpression of TGF-β1, TGF-β R1 and Smad2/3 proteins in lung fibroblasts compared with vehicle or ultrafine carbon black-exposed controls. SWCNT- and MWCNT-induced collagen production was blocked by ALK5 inhibitor or shRNA knockdown of TGF-β R1 and Smad2. Our results indicate the critical role of TGF-β R1/Smad2/3 signaling in CNT-induced fibrogenesis by upregulating collagen production in lung fibroblasts. This novel finding may aid in the design of mechanism-based risk assessment and development of rapid screening tests for nanomaterial fibrogenicity.