Disruption of THY-1 signaling in alveolar lipofibroblasts in experimentally induced congenital diaphragmatic hernia
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Pulmonary hypoplasia (PH), characterized by alveolar immaturity, remains the main cause of neonatal mortality and long-term morbidity in infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). Lipid-containing interstitial fibroblasts (LIFs) are critically important for normal alveolar development. Thymocyte antigen 1 (Thy-1) is a highly expressed cell-surface protein in this specific subset of lung fibroblasts, which plays a key role in fetal alveolarization by coordinating the differentiation and lipid homeostasis of alveolar LIFs. Thy-1 increases the lipid content of LIFs by upregulation of adipocyte differentiation-related protein (ADRP), a lipogenic molecular marker characterizing pulmonary LIFs. Thy-1 −/− mice further show impaired alveolar development with reduced proliferation of pulmonary LIFs, resulting in a PH-similar phenotype. We hypothesized that pulmonary Thy-1 signaling is disrupted in experimentally induced CDH, which may has an adverse effect on the lipid content of alveolar LIFs.
Timed-pregnant Sprague–Dawley rats were treated with either 100 mg nitrofen or vehicle on embryonic day 9.5 (E9.5). Fetuses were killed on E21.5, and lungs were divided into controls (n = 14) and CDH-associated PH (n = 14). Pulmonary gene expression levels of Thy-1 and ADRP were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. ADRP immunohistochemistry and oil-red-O staining were used to localize alveolar LIF expression and lipid droplets. Immunofluorescence double staining for Thy-1 and oil-red-O was performed to evaluate Thy-1 expression and lipid content in alveolar LIFs.
Radial alveolar count was significantly reduced in CDH-associated PH with significant downregulation of pulmonary Thy-1 and ADRP mRNA expression compared to controls. ADRP immunoreactivity and lipid droplets were markedly diminished in alveolar interstitial cells, which coincided with decreased alveolar LIF expression in CDH-associated PH compared to controls. Confocal laser scanning microscopy confirmed markedly decreased Thy-1 expression and lipid content in alveolar LIFs of CDH-associated PH compared to controls.
Our study provides strong evidence that disruption of pulmonary Thy-1 signaling results in reduced lipid droplets in alveolar LIFs and may thus contribute to PH in the nitrofen-induced CDH model. Treatment modalities aimed at increasing lipid content in alveolar LIFs may therefore have a therapeutic potential in attenuating CDH-associated PH.
KeywordsThymocyte antigen 1 Adipocyte differentiation-related protein Alveolar lipofibroblast Pulmonary hypoplasia Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
This research was supported by the National Children’s Research Centre and the Children’s Medical and Research Foundation.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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