Respiratory research

PlGF mediates neutrophil elastase-induced airway epithelial cell apoptosis and emphysema.

PMID 25186164


Chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) has become the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Cigarette smoking induces neutrophil elastase (NE) and contributes to COPD, but the detailed mechanisms involved are not fully established. In an animal model of pulmonary emphysema, there are increased expressions of placenta growth factor (PlGF) and lung epithelial (LE) cell apoptosis. This study hypothesized that excessive NE may up-regulate PlGF and that PlGF-induced LE apoptosis mediates the pathogenesis of pulmonary emphysema. Human bronchial epithelial cells, BEAS-2B, and primary mouse type II alveolar epithelial cells were treated with NE. The PlGF promoter activity was examined by luciferase activity assay, while PlGF expression and secretion were evaluated by RT-PCR, Western blotting, and ELISA. Both cell lines were treated with PlGF to evaluate its effects and the downstream signaling pathways leading to LE cell apoptosis. PlGF knockout and wild-type mice were instilled with NE to determine the roles of PlGF and its downstream molecules in NE-promoted mice pulmonary apoptosis and emphysema phenotype. The transcriptional factor, early growth response gene-1, was involved in the NE-promoted PlGF promoter activity, and the expression and secretion of PlGF mRNA and protein in LE cells. PlGF-induced LE cell apoptosis and NE-induced mice pulmonary apoptosis and emphysema were mediated by the downstream c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and protein kinase C (PKC)δ signaling pathways. The NE-PlGF-JNK/PKCδ pathway contributes to the pathogenesis of LE cell apoptosis and emphysema. PlGF and its downstream signaling molecules may be potential therapeutic targets for COPD.