Tissue factor (TF) is best known as a cellular initiator of coagulation, but it is also a multifunctional protein that has been implicated in multiple pathophysiologic conditions, including asthma. In the lung, airway epithelial cells express TF, but it is unknown how TF expression is regulated by asthma-associated mediators. We investigated the role of IL-13, a type 2 cytokine, alone and in combination with compressive stress, which mimics asthmatic bronchoconstriction, on TF expression and release of TF-positive extracellular vesicles from primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells. Well-differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial cells were treated with IL-13 and compressive stress, alone and in combination. TF mRNA, protein and activity were measured in the cells and conditioned media. TF was also measured in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid of allergen-challenged mice and patients with asthma. IL-13 and compressive stress increased TF expression, but only compressive stress induced TF-positive extracellular vesicle release. Pretreatment with IL-13 augmented compressive stress-induced TF expression and release. TF protein and activity in BAL fluid were increased in allergen-sensitized and -challenged mice. TF was elevated in the BAL fluid of patients with mild asthma after an allergen challenge. Our in vitro and in vivo data indicate close cooperation between mechanical and inflammatory stimuli on TF expression and release of TF-positive extracellular vesicles in the lungs, which may contribute to pathophysiology of asthma.
Keywords: airway epithelium; asthma; bronchoconstriction; coagulation; mechanotransduction.