Background: Airway remodeling is an important feature of chronic airway disease, but the mechanisms involved remain unclear. Recently, epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) was reported to be associated with tissue fibrosis. TGF-β1, which is a potent inducer of EMT, is thought to be related to the pathogenesis of airway remodeling. We investigated whether TGF-β1 and/or TNF-α induce EMT in bronchial epithelial cells.
Methods: Cultured BEAS-2B cells and primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) were treated with TGF-β1 and/or TNF-α. Morphological changes and the expression of EMT-related markers were evaluated by immunocytochemical staining. Expressions of EMT-related markers, extracellular matrix (ECM) components (collagen type I and versican), and TGF-β receptors I, II, and III were analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR. Migration was evaluated using the Boyden chamber technique.
Results: The TGF-β1-induced EMT in BEAS-2B cells was demonstrated on the basis of morphological changes and the downregulation of E-cadherin. Costimulation with TNF-α enhanced the TGF-β1-induced morphological changes and increased vimentin expression. Treatment with TGF-β1 increased the expression of collagen type I and versican. EMT induced with TGF-β1 plus TNF-α promoted cell migration. Stimulation of NHBE with TGF-β1 led to EMT.
Conclusion: TGF-β1 induced EMT in BEAS-2B cells, and costimulation with TNF-α enhanced the EMT. As a result of the EMT process, BEAS-2B cells acquired functions of mesenchymal cells. In addition, TGF-β1 treatment induced EMT in NHBE as shown by changes in EMT-related markers. Bronchial epithelial cells might contribute to airway remodeling through EMT.
Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.