We recently proposed that mitotic asynchrony in repairing tissue may underlie chronic inflammation and fibrosis, where immune cell infiltration is secondary to proinflammatory cross-talk among asynchronously repairing adjacent tissues. Building on our previous finding that mitotic asynchrony is associated with proinflammatory/fibrotic cytokine secretion (e.g., transforming growth factor [TGF]-β1), here we provide evidence supporting cause-and-effect. Under normal conditions, primary airway epithelial basal cell populations undergo mitosis synchronously and do not secrete proinflammatory or profibrotic cytokines. However, when pairs of nonasthmatic cultures were mitotically synchronized at 12 hours off-set and then combined, the mixed cell populations secreted elevated levels of TGF-β1. This shows that mitotic asynchrony is not only associated with but is also causative of TGF-β1 secretion. The secreted cytokines and other mediators from asthmatic cells were not the cause of asynchronous regeneration; synchronously mitotic nonasthmatic epithelia exposed to conditioned media from asthmatic cells did not show changes in mitotic synchrony. We also tested if resynchronization of regenerating asthmatic airway epithelia reduces TGF-β1 secretion and found that pulse-dosed dexamethasone, simvastatin, and aphidicolin were all effective. We therefore propose a new model for chronic inflammatory and fibrotic conditions where an underlying factor is mitotic asynchrony.
Keywords: asthma; fibrosis; mitosis; transforming growth factor-β1.