Fibrogenic and redox-related but not proinflammatory genes are upregulated in Lewis rat model of chronic silicosis

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2011;74(19):1261-79. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2011.595669.


Silicosis, a fibrotic granulomatous lung disease, may occur through accidental high-dose or occupational inhalation of silica, leading to acute/accelerated and chronic silicosis, respectively. While chronic silicosis has a long asymptomatic latency, lung inflammation and apoptosis are hallmarks of acute silicosis. In animal models, histiocytic granulomas develop within days after high-dose intratracheal (IT) silica instillation. However, following chronic inhalation of occupationally relevant doses of silica, discrete granulomas resembling human silicosis arise months after the final exposure without significant lung inflammation/apoptosis. To identify molecular events associated with chronic silicosis, lung RNA samples from controls or subchronic silica-exposed rats were analyzed by Affymetrix at 28 wk after silica exposures. Results suggested a significant upregulation of 144 genes and downregulation of 7 genes. The upregulated genes included complement cascade, chemokines/chemokine receptors, G-protein signaling components, metalloproteases, and genes associated with oxidative stress. To examine the kinetics of gene expression relevant to silicosis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Luminex-bead assays, Western blotting, and/or zymography were performed on lung tissues from 4 d, 28 wk, and intermediate times after subchronic silica exposure and compared with 14-d acute silicosis samples. Results indicated that genes regulating fibrosis (secreted phosphoprotein-1, Ccl2, and Ccl7), redox enzymes (superoxide dismutase-2 and arginase-1), and the enzymatic activities of matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 were upregulated in acute and chronic silicosis models. However, proinflammatory cytokines were strongly upregulated only in acute silicosis. Thus, inflammatory cytokines are associated with acute but not chronic silicosis. Data suggest that genes regulating fibrosis, oxidative stress, and metalloproteases may contribute to both acute and chronic silicosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginase / genetics
  • Arginase / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibrosis
  • Gelatinases / genetics
  • Gelatinases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Monocyte Chemoattractant Proteins / genetics
  • Monocyte Chemoattractant Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Osteopontin / genetics
  • Osteopontin / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Silicosis / immunology
  • Silicosis / metabolism*
  • Silicosis / pathology*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects*


  • Monocyte Chemoattractant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Spp1 protein, rat
  • Osteopontin
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • superoxide dismutase 2
  • Gelatinases
  • Arginase
  • arginase I, rat