Nitrogen mustard (NM) is a bifunctional alkylating agent that causes acute injury to the lung that progresses to fibrosis. This is accompanied by a prominent infiltration of macrophages into the lung and upregulation of proinflammatory/profibrotic cytokines including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α. In these studies, we analyzed the ability of anti-TNFα antibody to mitigate NM-induced lung injury, inflammation, and fibrosis. Treatment of rats with anti-TNFα antibody (15 mg/kg, iv, every 9 days) beginning 30 min after intratracheal administration of NM (0.125 mg/kg) reduced progressive histopathologic alterations in the lung including perivascular and peribronchial edema, macrophage/monocyte infiltration, interstitial thickening, bronchiolization of alveolar walls, fibrin deposition, emphysema, and fibrosis. NM-induced damage to the alveolar-epithelial barrier, measured by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) protein and cell content, was also reduced by anti-TNFα antibody, along with expression of the oxidative stress marker, heme oxygenase-1. Whereas the accumulation of proinflammatory/cytotoxic M1 macrophages in the lung in response to NM was suppressed by anti-TNFα antibody, anti-inflammatory/profibrotic M2 macrophages were increased or unchanged. Treatment of rats with anti-TNFα antibody also reduced NM-induced increases in expression of the profibrotic mediator, transforming growth factor-β. This was associated with a reduction in NM-induced collagen deposition in the lung. These data suggest that inhibiting TNFα may represent an efficacious approach to mitigating lung injury induced by mustards.
Keywords: alveolar macrophages; fibrosis; lung injury; vesicant.
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