Eph-A2 Promotes Permeability and Inflammatory Responses to Bleomycin-Induced Lung Injury

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Stimulation by the ephrin-A1 ligand of the EphA2 receptor increases endothelial permeability. Lung injury increases the expression of EphA2, but the role of EphA2 in such injury is not well understood. To determine whether EphA2 contributes to changes in permeability and inflammation in the injured lung, we studied wild-type (WT) and EphA2 knockout (KO) mice, using isolated, perfused lung (IPL) preparations and a model of bleomycin-induced lung injury. We also studied the response of endothelial cells to ephrin-A1. In the IPL preparations, ephrin-A1 increased the filtration coefficient in WT mice, but not in EphA2 KO mice, demonstrating that EphA2 regulates vascular permeability. In early bleomycin injury in WT mice, the expression of both EphA2 and ephrin-A1 increased. EphA2 KO animals were protected from lung injury, showing less water and alveolar protein in the lungs than WT mice, consistent with reduced permeability. Bleomycin caused less accumulation of lung leukocytes in EphA2 KO animals than in WT animals, suggesting that EphA2 regulates inflammation. To determine whether EphA2 deficiency alters the production of chemokines, CXCL1 and CCL2 in the lungs were measured. After bleomycin injury, EphA2 KO animals produced less CXCL1 and CCL2 than WT animals. Because NF-κβ mediates the production of chemokines, the effect of the ephrin-A1 ligand on the activation of NF-κβ and the expression of chemokines was measured in endothelial cells. Ephrin-a1 significantly increased NF-κβ nuclear translocation and the expression of chemokine mRNA. This study demonstrates that the expression of EphA2 increases in the injured lung, and not only contributes to changes in permeability, but also plays a previously unrecognized role in promoting inflammatory responses.

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