Vanadium stimulates human bronchial epithelial cells to produce heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor: a mitogen for lung fibroblasts

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2001 Feb;24(2):123-31. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.24.2.4096.


The bronchial epithelium is a potential source of growth factors that could mediate airway fibrosis during the progression of diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis. We report that conditioned medium (CM) from normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBECs) contains mitogenic activity for human lung fibroblasts that is blocked by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1478 and by neutralizing antibodies raised against heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF). Neutralizing antibodies against other EGF-R ligands (EGF and transforming growth factor-alpha) or other antibodies against growth factors (platelet-derived growth factors, insulin-like growth factor-1) had no affect on the mitogenic activity of NHBEC-CM. HB-EGF messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in NHBEC was detected by reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction and Northern blot analysis. HB-EGF protein was detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), a fibrogenic metal associated with occupational asthma, caused a several-fold increase in HB-EGF mRNA expression and protein, whereas the inert metal titanium dioxide had no effect on HB-EGF expression. V2O5-induced HB-EGF mRNA expression was inhibited by the EGF-R tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1478, the p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase inhibitor SB203580, and the MAP kinase kinase inhibitor PD98059. Finally, HB-EGF induced the production of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 by human lung fibroblasts and anti-FGF-2 antibody partially blocked the mitogenic activity of NHBEC-CM on fibroblasts. These data suggest that HB-EGF is a fibroblast mitogen produced by NHBECs and that induction of an FGF-2 autocrine loop in fibroblasts by HB-EGF accounts for part of this mitogenic activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Northern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bronchi / drug effects*
  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / genetics
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Heparin-binding EGF-like Growth Factor
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lung / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Vanadium / pharmacology*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • DNA Primers
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • HBEGF protein, human
  • Heparin-binding EGF-like Growth Factor
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vanadium
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases