Human bronchial and parenchymal fibroblasts display differences in basal inflammatory phenotype and response to IL-17A

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Abstract

Background

Chronic inflammation, typified by increased expression of IL-17A, together with airway and parenchymal remodelling are features of chronic lung diseases. Emerging evidence suggests that phenotypic heterogeneity of repair and inflammatory capacities of fibroblasts may contribute to the differential structural changes observed in different regions of the lung.

Objective

To investigate phenotypic differences in parenchymal and bronchial fibroblasts, either in terms of inflammation and remodelling or the ability of these fibroblasts to respond to IL-17A.

Methods

Four groups of primary fibroblasts were used: normal human bronchial fibroblast (NHBF), normal human parenchymal fibroblast (NHPF), COPD human bronchial fibroblast (CHBF) and COPD human parenchymal fibroblast (CHPF). Cytokine and extracellular matrix (ECM) expression were measured at baseline and after stimulation with IL-17A. Actinomycin D was used to measure cytokine mRNA stability.

Results

At baseline, we observed higher protein production of IL-6 in NHPF than NHBF, but higher levels of IL-8 and GRO-α in NHBF. IL-17A induced a higher expression of GRO-α (CXCL1) and IL-6 in NHPF than in NHBF, and a higher level of IL-8 expression in NHBF. IL-17A treatment decreased the mRNA stability of IL-6 in NHBF when compared with NHPF. CHPF expressed higher protein levels of fibronectin, collagen-I and collagen-III than CHBF, NHBF and NHPF. IL-17A increased fibronectin and collagen-III protein only in NHPF and collagen-III protein production in CHBF and CHPF.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

These findings provide insight into the inflammatory and remodelling processes that may be related to the phenotypic heterogeneity of fibroblasts from airway and parenchymal regions and in their response to IL-17A.

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