High circulating angiopoietin-2 levels exacerbate pulmonary inflammation but not vascular leak or mortality in endotoxin-induced lung injury in mice

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BackgroundElevated plasma levels of angiopoietin-2 (ANGPT2) have been reported in patients with acute lung injury (ALI); however, it remains unclear whether this increase contributes to, or just marks, the underlying vasculopathic inflammation and leak associated with ALI. Here we investigated the biological consequences of inducing high circulating levels of ANGPT2 in a mouse model of endotoxin-induced ALI.MethodsTransgenic mice (ANGPT2OVR) with elevated circulating levels of ANGPT2, achieved through conditional hepatocyte-specific overexpression, were examined from 3 to 72 hours following lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced ALI. An aptamer-based inhibitor was used to neutralise the effects of circulating ANGPT2 in LPS-exposed ANGPT2OVR mice.ResultsTotal cells, neutrophils and macrophages, as well as inflammatory cytokines, were significantly higher in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) of ANGPT2OVR versus littermate controltTA mice at 48 hours and 6 hours post-LPS, respectively. In contrast, LPS-induced vascular leak, evidenced by total BAL protein levels and lung wet/dry ratio, was unchanged between ANGPT2OVR and controlstTA, while BAL levels of IgM and albumin were decreased in ANGPT2OVR mice between 24 hours and 48 hours suggesting a partial attenuation of vascular leak. There was no significant difference in LPS-induced mortality between ANGPT2OVR and controlstTA. An ANGPT2-neutralising aptamer partially attenuated alveolar cell infiltration while exacerbating vascular leak in LPS-exposed ANGPT2OVR mice, supported by underlying time-dependent changes in the lung transcriptional profiles of multiple genes linked to neutrophil recruitment/adhesion and endothelial integrity.ConclusionsOur findings suggest that high circulating ANGPT2 potentiates endotoxin-induced lung inflammation but may also exert other pleiotropic effects to help fine-tune the vascular response to lung injury.

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