Epithelial-mesenchymal transition of A549 cells is enhanced by co-cultured with THP-1 macrophages under hypoxic conditions.

Research paper by Akane A Sueki, Kazuyuki K Matsuda, Chinami C Iwashita, Chiaki C Taira, Nau N Ishimine, Shohei S Shigeto, Kenji K Kawasaki, Mitsutoshi M Sugano, Hiroshi H Yamamoto, Takayuki T Honda

Indexed on: 03 Dec '14Published on: 03 Dec '14Published in: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is associated with pulmonary fibrosis, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). In this study, we investigated EMT of human pulmonary epithelial-derived cells (A549). A549 cells was either cultured by itself or co-cultured with THP-1 macrophages under normoxic (21% O2) and hypoxic (2% O2) conditions. We evaluated the presence of EMT by determining the expression of EMT markers, E-cadherin, vimentin, and fibronectin. To determine the role of TGF-β1 and IL-1β in EMT of the A549 cells, we analyzed the effects of blocking their activity with TGF-β1 inhibitor or IL-1β neutralizing antibody respectively. The A549 cells presented EMT when they were co-cultured with THP-1 macrophages. The EMT of the A549 cells co-cultured with THP-1 macrophages was exacerbated under hypoxia. In addition, the EMT were prevented by the addition of TGF-β1 type I receptor kinase inhibitor. The hypoxic condition increased the mRNA levels of TGF-β1 in A549 cells and THP-1 macrophages and that of IL-1β in THP-1 macrophages when each cells were co-cultured. Anti-IL-1β neutralizing antibody attenuated TGF-β1 secretion in co-culture media under hypoxic conditions. Thus, the IL-1β from THP-1 macrophages up-regulated the TGF-β1 from A549 cells and THP-1 macrophages, and then the TGF-β1 from both cells induced and promoted the EMT of A549 cells when they were co-cultured under hypoxia. Together, these results demonstrate that the interaction between type II pneumocytes and macrophages under hypoxia is necessary for the development of pulmonary fibrosis.