S100A9 promotes human lung fibroblast cells activation through receptor for advanced glycation end-product-mediated extracellular-regulated kinase 1/2, mitogen-activated protein-kinase and nuclear factor-κB-dependent pathways

Clin Exp Immunol. 2013 Sep;173(3):523-35. doi: 10.1111/cei.12139.


S100A9 belongs to the S100 family of calcium-binding proteins and plays a key role in many inflammatory conditions. Recent studies have found that S100A9 was elevated significantly in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients, and might be a biomarker for fibrotic interstitial lung diseases. However, the exact function of S100A9 in pulmonary fibrosis needs further studies. We performed this study to investigate the effect of S100A9 on human embryo lung fibroblast (HLF) proliferation and production of cytokines and collagen, providing new insights into the possible mechanism. S100A9 promoted proliferation of fibroblasts and up-regulated expression of both proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-1β and collagen type III. S100A9 also induced HLF cells to produce α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and receptor for advanced glycation end-product (RAGE). In addition, S100A9 caused a significant increase in extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation, while the status of p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation remained unchanged. Treatment of cells with S100A9 also enhanced nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation. RAGE blocking antibody pretreatment inhibited the S100A9-induced cell proliferation, cytokine production and pathway phosphorylation. S100A9-mediated cell activation was suppressed significantly by ERK1/2 MAPK inhibitor and NF-κB inhibitor. In conclusion, S100A9 promoted HLF cell growth and induced cells to secret proinflammatory cytokines and collagen through RAGE signalling and activation of ERK1/2 MAPK and NF-κB pathways.

Keywords: ERK1/2; NF-κB; RAGE; S100A9; human fetal lung fibroblasts; inflammation; lung fibrosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Calgranulin B / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / genetics
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • ACTA2 protein, human
  • Actins
  • Calgranulin B
  • Cytokines
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • NF-kappa B
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases