Apoptosis of the Tracheal Epithelium Can Increase the Number of Recipient Bone Marrow–Derived Myofibroblasts in Allografts and Exacerbate Obliterative Bronchiolitis After Tracheal Transplantation in Mice

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Abstract

Background

The long-term outcome of lung transplantation is impeded by the development of obliterative bronchiolitis (OB). We sought to investigate the relationship between the apoptosis of tracheal epithelial cells and bone marrow–derived myofibroblasts in the process of OB.

Methods

The mouse orthotopic tracheal transplant model was established. The allografts and syngrafts were harvested at 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after tracheal transplant. The percentage of tracheal lumen occlusion was assayed via histology and morphometry. Immunofluorescence staining was used to detect the apoptotic epithelial cells and recipient-derived myofibroblasts. The expression of SDF-1α and TGF-β and the infiltrations of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the grafts were detected using immunohistochemical staining.

Results

We found that there were more apoptotic epithelia in the allograft group than in the syngraft group and that the level of tracheal lumen occlusion was higher at different time points. Moreover, the increase in the apoptosis of the tracheal epithelium occurred earlier than that of occlusion of the tracheal lumen. There were more myofibroblasts derived from the recipient’s bone marrow and more CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the allografts. The expression of SDF-1α and TGF-β was higher in the epithelium from allografts than in those of the syngrafts.

Conclusions

Our study indicated that the apoptotic tracheal epithelia in the OB model might increase the amount of myofibroblasts derived from the recipient’s bone marrow. Therapeutic methods aimed at preventing apoptosis of the tracheal epithelium may improve the outcome of lung transplantation.

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