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Although HHIP locus has been consistently associated with the susceptibility to COPD including airway remodeling and emphysema in genome-wide association studies, the molecular mechanism underlying this genetic association remains incompletely understood. By utilizing Hhip+/- mice and primary human airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs), here we aim to determine whether HHIP haploinsufficiency increases airway smooth muscle mass by reprogramming glucose metabolism, thus contributing to airway remodeling in COPD pathogenesis. The mRNA levels of HHIP were compared in normal and COPD-derived ASMCs. Mitochondrial oxygen consumption rate and lactate levels in the medium were measured in COPD-derived ASMCs with or without HHIP overexpression as readouts of glucose oxidative phosphorylation and aerobic glycolysis rates. The proliferation rate was measured in healthy and COPD-derived ASMCs treated with or without 2-DG. Smooth muscle mass around airways was measured by immunofluorescence staining for α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) in lung sections from Hhip+/- mice and their wild type littermates, Hhip+/+ mice. Airway remodeling was assessed in Hhip+/- and Hhip+/- mice exposed to 6 months of cigarette smoke. Our results show HHIP inhibited aerobic glycolysis and represses cell proliferation in COPD-derived ASMCs. Notably, knockdown of HHIP in normal ASMCs increased PKM2 activity. Importantly, Hhip+/- mice demonstrated increased airway remodeling and increased intensity of α-SMA staining around airways compared to Hhip+/+ mice. In conclusion, our findings suggest that HHIP represses aerobic glycolysis and ASMCs hyperplasia, which may contribute to the increased airway remodeling in Hhip+/- mice.


Yan Li, Li Zhang, Francesca Polverino, Feng Guo, Yuan Hao, Taotao Lao, Shuang Xu, Lijia Li, Betty Pham, Caroline A Owen, Xiaobo Zhou. Hedgehog interacting protein (HHIP) represses airway remodeling and metabolic reprogramming in COPD-derived airway smooth muscle cells. Scientific reports. 2021 Apr 27;11(1):9074

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PMID: 33907231

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