Autocrine ligands of the epithelial growth factor receptor mediate inflammatory responses to diesel exhaust particles

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Diesel exhaust is associated with cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and morbidity. Acute exposure leads to increased IL-8 expression and airway neutrophilia, however the mechanism of this response is unknown. OBJECTIVES: As cigarette smoke-induced IL-8 expression by epithelial cells involves transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), we studied the effects of diesel exhaust particles (DEP) on IL-8 release and the role of the EGFR. METHODS: Primary bronchial epithelial cells (PBEC) were exposed to DEPs or carbon black. IL-8 and EGFR ligand expression (transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha), heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor, and amphiregulin (AR)) were assessed by quantitative RT-PCR and ELISA. RESULTS: DEP, but not carbon black, caused a dose-dependent increase in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation and IL-8 expression, however above 50 mug/ml there was an increase in cytotoxicity. At 50 mug/ml, DEPs stimulated transcription and release of IL-8 and EGFR ligands. IL-8 release was blocked by EGFR neutralizing antibodies, an EGFR-selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor and by the metalloprotease inhibitor, GM6001, which blocks EGFR ligand shedding. Neutralizing antibodies to AR, TGFalpha and heparin-binding (HB)-EGF reduced DEP-induced IL-8 by >50%. Conclusion Expression of IL-8 in response to DEPs is dependent on EGFR activation and that autocrine production of EGFR ligands makes a substantial contribution to this response. CAPSULE SUMMARY: This study identifies a mechanism whereby diesel particles stimulates IL-8 release from bronchial epithelial cells. This mechanism may help to explain the recruitment of neutrophils into the airways of people exposed to particulate air pollution.

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Parnia, S., Hamilton, L. M., Puddicombe, S. M., Holgate, S. T., Frew, A. J., & Davies, D. E. (2014). Autocrine ligands of the epithelial growth factor receptor mediate inflammatory responses to diesel exhaust particles. Respiratory Research, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1465-9921-15-22

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