Concept: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
In April 2016, a Virginia dentist who had recently received a diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and was undergoing treatment at a specialty clinic at a Virginia tertiary care center contacted CDC to report concerns that IPF had been diagnosed in multiple Virginia dentists who had sought treatment at the same specialty clinic. IPF is a chronic, progressive lung disease of unknown cause and associated with a poor prognosis (1). Although IPF has been associated with certain occupations (2), no published data exist regarding IPF in dentists. The medical records for all 894 patients treated for IPF at the Virginia tertiary care center during September 1996-June 2017 were reviewed for evidence that the patient had worked as a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental technician; among these patients, eight (0.9%) were identified as dentists and one (0.1%) as a dental technician, and each had sought treatment during 2000-2015. Seven of these nine patients had died. A questionnaire was administered to one of the living patients, who reported polishing dental appliances and preparing amalgams and impressions without respiratory protection. Substances used during these tasks contained silica, polyvinyl siloxane, alginate, and other compounds with known or potential respiratory toxicity. Although no clear etiologies for this cluster exist, occupational exposures possibly contributed. This cluster of IPF cases reinforces the need to understand further the unique occupational exposures of dental personnel and the association between these exposures and the risk for developing IPF so that appropriate strategies can be developed for the prevention of potentially harmful exposures.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lethal interstitial lung disease characterized by airway remodeling, inflammation, alveolar destruction, and fibrosis. We utilized single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to identify epithelial cell types and associated biological processes involved in the pathogenesis of IPF. Transcriptomic analysis of normal human lung epithelial cells defined gene expression patterns associated with highly differentiated alveolar type 2 (AT2) cells, indicated by enrichment of RNAs critical for surfactant homeostasis. In contrast, scRNA-seq of IPF cells identified 3 distinct subsets of epithelial cell types with characteristics of conducting airway basal and goblet cells and an additional atypical transitional cell that contributes to pathological processes in IPF. Individual IPF cells frequently coexpressed alveolar type 1 (AT1), AT2, and conducting airway selective markers, demonstrating “indeterminate” states of differentiation not seen in normal lung development. Pathway analysis predicted aberrant activation of canonical signaling via TGF-β, HIPPO/YAP, P53, WNT, and AKT/PI3K. Immunofluorescence confocal microscopy identified the disruption of alveolar structure and loss of the normal proximal-peripheral differentiation of pulmonary epithelial cells. scRNA-seq analyses identified loss of normal epithelial cell identities and unique contributions of epithelial cells to the pathogenesis of IPF. The present study provides a rich data source to further explore lung health and disease.
Matrix stiffening and myofibroblast resistance to apoptosis are cardinal features of chronic fibrotic diseases involving diverse organ systems. The interactions between altered tissue biomechanics and cellular signaling that sustain progressive fibrosis are not well defined. In this study, we used ex vivo and in vivo approaches to define a mechanotransduction pathway involving Rho/Rho kinase (Rho/ROCK), actin cytoskeletal remodeling, and a mechanosensitive transcription factor, megakaryoblastic leukemia 1 (MKL1), that coordinately regulate myofibroblast differentiation and survival. Both in an experimental mouse model of lung fibrosis and in human subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), we observed activation of the Rho/ROCK pathway, enhanced actin cytoskeletal polymerization, and MKL1 cytoplasmic-nuclear shuttling. Pharmacologic disruption of this mechanotransduction pathway with the ROCK inhibitor fasudil induced myofibroblast apoptosis through a mechanism involving downregulation of BCL-2 and activation of the intrinsic mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Treatment with fasudil during the postinflammatory fibrotic phase of lung injury or genetic ablation of Mkl1 protected mice from experimental lung fibrosis. These studies indicate that targeting mechanosensitive signaling in myofibroblasts to trigger the intrinsic apoptosis pathway may be an effective approach for treatment of fibrotic disorders.
Pirfenidone is a novel anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits the progression of fibrosis in animal models and in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We previously showed that pirfenidone inhibits the over-expression of collagen type I and of heat shock protein (HSP) 47, a collagen-specific molecular chaperone, in human lung fibroblasts stimulated with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in vitro. The increased numbers of HSP47-positive type II pneumocytes as well as fibroblasts were also diminished by pirfenidone in an animal model of pulmonary fibrosis induced by bleomycin. The present study evaluates the effects of pirfenidone on collagen type I and HSP47 expression in the human alveolar epithelial cell line, A549 cells in vitro.
Extracellular matrix deposition and tissue scarring characterize the process of fibrosis. Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) and Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of fibrosis in various tissues by inducing mesenchymal cell proliferation and extracellular matrix deposition. We identified Syndecan-2 (SDC2) as a gene induced by TGFβ in an IGFBP-3-dependent manner. TGFβ induction of SDC2 mRNA and protein required IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 independently induced production of SDC2 in primary fibroblasts. Using an ex-vivo model of human skin in organ culture expressing IGFBP-3, we demonstrate that IGFBP-3 induces SDC2 ex vivo in human tissue. We also identified Mitogen-activated protein kinase-interacting kinase (Mknk2) as a gene induced by IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 triggered Mknk2 phosphorylation resulting in its activation. Mknk2 independently induced SDC2 in human skin. Since IGFBP-3 is over-expressed in fibrotic tissues, we examined SDC2 levels in skin and lung tissues of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and lung tissues of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). SDC2 levels were increased in fibrotic dermal and lung tissues of patients with SSc and in lung tissues of patients with IPF. This is the first report describing elevated levels of SDC2 in fibrosis. Increased SDC2 expression is due, at least in part, to the activity of two pro-fibrotic factors, TGFβ and IGFBP-3.
Pirfenidone (PFD) is a novel antifibrotic agent approved for patients with pulmonary fibrosis. However, there are concerns regarding toxicity of the drug. In this meta-analysis, we analyzed the adverse events (AEs) of PFD for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
BACKGROUND: Stress of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) leading to activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) and alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) apoptosis may play a role in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Our objectives were to determine whether circulating caspase-cleaved cytokeratin-18 (cCK-18) is a marker of AEC apoptosis in IPF, define the relationship of cCK-18 with activation of the UPR, and assess its utility as a diagnostic biomarker. METHODS: IPF and normal lung tissues were stained with the antibody (M30) that specifically binds cCK-18. The relationship between markers of the UPR and cCK-18 was determined in AECs exposed in vitro to thapsigargin to induce ER stress. cCK-18 was measured in serum from subjects with IPF, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP), and control subjects. RESULTS: cCK-18 immunoreactivity was present in AECs of IPF lung, but not in control subjects. Markers of the UPR (phosphorylated IRE-1alpha and spliced XBP-1) were more highly expressed in IPF type II AECs than in normal type II AECs. Phosphorylated IRE-1alpha and cCK-18 increased following thapsigargin-induced ER stress. Serum cCK-18 level distinguished IPF from diseased and control subjects. Serum cCK-18 was not associated with disease severity or outcome. CONCLUSIONS: cCK-18 may be a marker of AEC apoptosis and UPR activation in patients with IPF. Circulating levels of cCK-18 are increased in patients with IPF and cCK-18 may be a useful diagnostic biomarker.
Macrophage G2A and CD36 lipid receptors are thought to mediate efferocytosis following tissue injury and thereby prevent excessive inflammation which could compromise tissue repair. To test this, we subjected mice lacking G2A or CD36 receptors to bleomycin-induced lung injury and measured efferocytosis, inflammation and fibrosis. Loss of CD36 (but not G2A) delayed clearance of apoptotic alveolar cells (mean 78% increase in apoptotic cells 7 days post-injury), potentiated inflammation (mean 56% increase in lung neutrophils and 75% increase in lung KC levels 7 days post-injury, 51% increase in lung macrophages 14 days post-injury) and reduced lung fibrosis (mean 41% and 29% reduction 14 and 21 days post-injury respectively). Reduced fibrosis in CD36-/- mice was associated with lower levels of pro-fibrotic TH2 cytokines (IL-9, IL-13, IL-4), decreased expression of the M2 macrophage marker Arginase-1 and reduced interstitial myofibroblasts. G2A, on the other hand, was required for optimal clearance of apoptotic neutrophils during zymosan-induced peritoneal inflammation (50.3% increase in apoptotic neutrophils and 30.6% increase in total neutrophils 24 hours following zymosan administration in G2A-/- mice). Thus, CD36 is required for timely removal of apoptotic cells in the context of lung injury and modulates subsequent inflammatory and fibrotic processes relevant to fibrotic lung disease.
There is currently no effective treatment for acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We herein report the case of a patient with acute exacerbation of IPF which was treated with nintedanib, an intracellular inhibitor of tyrosine kinases, and showed improvement of the condition. An 84-year-old man with IPF was admitted to our hospital because of dry cough and worsening of dyspnoea within last 1 month. He presented with hypoxemia, and chest high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) revealed new, bilateral multifocal ground-glass opacities superimposed on the background of lung fibrosis. After exclusion of alternative causes, acute exacerbation of IPF was diagnosed and we started treatment with nintedanib of 300 mg/day. This resulted in the gradual improvement of his condition and HRCT findings without administering antibiotics or corticosteroids. Serum Krebs von den Lungen-6 and surfactant protein D levels increased at acute exacerbation and subsequently decreased. This case suggests that nintedanib therapy may have possible benefits in acute exacerbation of IPF.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a rare and fatal restrictive respiratory disease under the idiopathic lung disease (ILD) class. IPF is a form of chronic, progressive fibrosing interstitial pneumonia and has more scarring, less inflammation, and poorer prognosis than most other ILD forms. Exacerbation of IPF is rapid, with unpredictable deterioration of lung function, and is associated with short-term mortality. The American Thoracic Society (ATS) evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis and management of IPF reports that the incidence of acute exacerbations is between 5%-10%. Limited real-world evidence has been identified in the United States that assesses patterns of hospitalization, exacerbation of IPF, and the associated economic burden.