Background: Chronic lung diseases are the third leading cause of death in the United States due in part to an incomplete understanding of pathways that govern the progressive tissue remodeling that occurs in these disorders. Adenosine is elevated in the lungs of animal models and humans with chronic lung disease where it promotes air-space destruction and fibrosis. Adenosine signaling increases the production of the pro-fibrotic cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). Based on these observations, we hypothesized that IL-6 signaling contributes to tissue destruction and remodeling in a model of chronic lung disease where adenosine levels are elevated.
Methodology/principal findings: We tested this hypothesis by neutralizing or genetically removing IL-6 in adenosine deaminase (ADA)-deficient mice that develop adenosine dependent pulmonary inflammation and remodeling. Results demonstrated that both pharmacologic blockade and genetic removal of IL-6 attenuated pulmonary inflammation, remodeling and fibrosis in this model. The pursuit of mechanisms involved revealed adenosine and IL-6 dependent activation of STAT-3 in airway epithelial cells.
Conclusions/significance: These findings demonstrate that adenosine enhances IL-6 signaling pathways to promote aspects of chronic lung disease. This suggests that blocking IL-6 signaling during chronic stages of disease may provide benefit in halting remodeling processes such as fibrosis and air-space destruction.