MEK1 regulates pulmonary macrophage inflammatory responses and resolution of acute lung injury

JCI Insight. 2019 Dec 5;4(23):e132377. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.132377.


The MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway has been implicated in regulating the inflammatory response to lung injury and infection, and pharmacologic MEK1/2 inhibitor compounds are reported to reduce detrimental inflammation in multiple animal models of disease, in part through modulation of leukocyte responses. However, the specific contribution of myeloid MEK1 in regulating acute lung injury (ALI) and its resolution remain unknown. Here, the role of myeloid Mek1 was investigated in a murine model of LPS-induced ALI (LPS-ALI) by genetic deletion using the Cre-floxed system (LysMCre × Mekfl), and human alveolar macrophages from healthy volunteers and patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were obtained to assess activation of the MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway. Myeloid Mek1 deletion results in a failure to resolve LPS-ALI, and alveolar macrophages lacking MEK1 had increased activation of MEK2 and the downstream target ERK1/2 on day 4 of LPS-ALI. The clinical significance of these findings is supported by increased activation of the MEK1/2-ERK1/2 pathway in alveolar macrophages from patients with ARDS compared with alveolar macrophages from healthy volunteers. This study reveals a critical role for myeloid MEK1 in promoting resolution of LPS-ALI and controlling the duration of macrophage proinflammatory responses.

Keywords: Inflammation; Innate immunity; Macrophages; Protein kinases; Pulmonology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / chemically induced
  • Acute Lung Injury / metabolism*
  • Acute Lung Injury / pathology
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / adverse effects
  • Lung / pathology
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1 / genetics*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome
  • Transcriptome


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • MAP2K2 protein, human
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 2
  • MAP2K1 protein, human