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We previously observed that amphiregulin (Areg), a ligand of epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR), was highly expressed in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung injury (ALI) lung tissues mainly by the classically activated (M1) alveolar macrophages (AMs). Areg also plays a protective role in LPS-induced injury in lung tissues and alveolar epithelial cells (AECs). However, whether Areg is co-expressed with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in ALI lung tissues, and can directly inhibit TNF-α-induced AEC injury remains unclear. We first detected the kinetic expressions of Areg and TNF-α in LPS-stimulated lung tissues and M1 AMs and then identified the role of exogenous recombinant Areg (rmAreg) in the injured lung tissues. The effect of Areg on TNF-α-induced apoptosis in MLE-12 cells, a kind of AECs, was examined by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling staining. The activation of the EGFR-AKT pathway and caspase-3, -8, and -9 were detected by Western blotting. The EGFR knockdown by small interfering RNA was used to assess the role of EGFR in Areg functions. Areg production occurred in close parallel with TNF-α expression in M1 AMs and ALI lung tissues, and rmAreg attenuated LPS-induced ALI in mice. TNF-α stimulation induced significant apoptosis in MLE-12 cells, but this apoptosis was inhibited under rmAreg treatment. Moreover, rmAreg enhanced the activation of EGFR and AKT, and reduced the expressions of cleaved caspase-3, -8, and -9 in ALI lung tissues and TNF-α-challenged MLE-12 cells. However, the EGFR knockdown significantly inhibited the Areg-induced improvement in apoptosis, enhancement of EGFR and AKT activation, and reduction of cleaved caspase-3, -8, and -9 expressions. Areg and TNF-α were synchronously produced by ALI lung tissues and M1 AMs, and Areg directly inhibited the TNF-induced apoptosis and transduction of caspase death signals in AECs via the EGFR pathway. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.. All rights reserved.


Chen Meng, Silu Wang, Xue Wang, Jing Lv, Wenjing Zeng, Ruijie Chang, Qing Li, Xianyu Wang. Amphiregulin inhibits TNF-α-induced alveolar epithelial cell death through EGFR signaling pathway. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie. 2020 May;125:109995

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PMID: 32187954

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