The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

IL-33 mediates Pseudomonas induced airway fibrogenesis and is associated with CLAD

Published:October 05, 2022DOI:


      Long term outcomes of lung transplantation are impacted by the occurrence of chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD). Recent evidence suggests a role for the lung microbiome in the occurrence of CLAD, but the exact mechanisms are not well defined. We hypothesize that the lung microbiome inhibits epithelial autophagic clearance of pro-fibrotic proteins in an IL-33 dependent manner, thereby augmenting fibrogenesis and risk for CLAD.


      Autopsy derived CLAD and non-CLAD lungs were collected. IL-33, P62 and LC3 immunofluorescence was performed and assessed using confocal microscopy. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PsA), Streptococcus Pneumoniae (SP), Prevotella Melaninogenica (PM), recombinant IL-33 or PsA-lipopolysaccharide was co-cultured with primary human bronchial epithelial cells (PBEC) and lung fibroblasts in the presence or absence of IL-33 blockade. Western blot analysis and quantitative reverse transcription (qRT) PCR was performed to evaluate IL-33 expression, autophagy, cytokines and fibroblast differentiation markers. These experiments were repeated after siRNA silencing and upregulation (plasmid vector) of Beclin-1.


      Human CLAD lungs demonstrated markedly increased expression of IL-33 and reduced basal autophagy compared to non-CLAD lungs. Exposure of co-cultured PBECs to PsA, SP induced IL-33, and inhibited PBEC autophagy, while PM elicited no significant response. Further, PsA exposure increased myofibroblast differentiation and collagen formation. IL-33 blockade in these co-cultures recovered Beclin-1, cellular autophagy and attenuated myofibroblast activation in a Beclin-1 dependent manner.


      CLAD is associated with increased airway IL-33 expression and reduced basal autophagy. PsA induces a fibrogenic response by inhibiting airway epithelial autophagy in an IL-33 dependent manner.


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