Syndecan-2 Attenuates Radiation-induced Pulmonary Fibrosis and Inhibits Fibroblast Activation by Regulating PI3K/Akt/ROCK Pathway via CD148

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Abstract

Radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis is a severe complication of patients treated with thoracic irradiation. We have previously shown that syndecan-2 reduces fibrosis by exerting alveolar epithelial cytoprotective effects. Here, we investigate whether syndecan-2 attenuates radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting fibroblast activation. C57BL/6 wild-type mice and transgenic mice that overexpress human syndecan-2 in alveolar macrophages were exposed to 14 Gy whole-thoracic radiation. At 24 weeks after irradiation, lungs were collected for histological, protein, and mRNA evaluation of pulmonary fibrosis, profibrotic gene expression, and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression. Mouse lung fibroblasts were activated with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in the presence or absence of syndecan-2. Cell proliferation, migration, and gel contraction were assessed at different time points. Irradiation resulted in significantly increased mortality and pulmonary fibrosis in wild-type mice that was associated with elevated lung expression of TGF-β1 downstream target genes and cell death compared with irradiated syndecan-2 transgenic mice. In mouse lung fibroblasts, syndecan-2 inhibited α-SMA expression, cell contraction, proliferation, and migration induced by TGF-β1. Syndecan-2 attenuated phosphoinositide 3-kinase/serine/threonine kinase/Rho-associated coiled-coil kinase signaling and serum response factor binding to the α-SMA promoter. Syndecan-2 attenuates pulmonary fibrosis in mice exposed to radiation and inhibits TGF-β1-induced fibroblast-myofibroblast differentiation, migration, and proliferation by down-regulating phosphoinositide 3-kinase/serine/threonine kinase/Rho-associated coiled-coil kinase signaling and blocking serum response factor binding to the α-SMA promoter via CD148. These findings suggest that syndecan-2 has potential as an antifibrotic therapy in radiation-induced lung fibrosis.

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