Author(s): Vernooy JH, Drummen NE, van Suylen RJ, Cloots RH, Mller GM,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterised by an abnormal inflammatory reaction of the lungs involving activation of epithelial cells. Leptin is a pleiotropic cytokine important in the regulation of immune responses via its functional receptor Ob-Rb. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that severe COPD is associated with increased leptin expression in epithelial cells. METHODS: Immunohistochemistry for leptin was performed on peripheral lung specimens from 20 patients with COPD (GOLD stage 4), 14 asymptomatic ex-smokers and 13 never smokers. Leptin and Ob-Rb mRNA expression were determined by rtPCR in cultured primary bronchial epithelial cells and primary type II pneumocytes. NCI-H292 and A549 cell lines were used to study functional activation of leptin signalling. RESULTS: Leptin immunoreactivity in lung tissue was observed in bronchial epithelial cells, type II pneumocytes, macrophages (tissue/alveolar) and interstitial lymphocytic infiltrates. rtPCR analysis confirmed pulmonary leptin and Ob-Rb mRNA expression in primary bronchial epithelial cells and pneumocytes. Leptin-expressing bronchial epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages were markedly higher in patients with severe COPD and ex-smokers than in never smokers (p<0.02). Exposure of cultured primary bronchial epithelial cells to smoke resulted in increased expression of both leptin and Ob-Rb (p<0.05). Leptin induced phosphorylation of STAT3 in both NCI-H292 and A549 cells. CONCLUSIONS: Leptin expression is increased in bronchial epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages of ex-smokers with or without severe COPD compared with never smokers. A functional leptin signalling pathway is present in lung epithelial cells.
This article was published in Thorax
and referenced in Journal of Allergy & Therapy