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Deposition of insoluble elastin by pulmonary fibroblasts from patients with COPD is increased by treatment with versican siRNA

Authors Wu L, Zhang J, Qu JM, Bai CX, Merrilees MJ

Received 1 July 2016

Accepted for publication 16 September 2016

Published 12 January 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 267—273

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S116217

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor Hsiao-Chi Chuang

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Lian Wu,1,2 Jing Zhang,3 Jie Ming Qu,4 Chun-xue Bai,3 Mervyn J Merrilees5

1Department of Community and Health Services, Unitec, 2Department of Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; 3Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, 4Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 5Department of Anatomy and Medical Imaging, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Abstract: A reduced content of alveolar elastic fibers is a key feature of COPD lung. Despite continued elastogenic potential by alveolar fibroblasts in the lung affected by COPD, repair of elastic fibers does not take place, which is due to increased levels of the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan versican that inhibits the assembly of tropoelastin into fibers. In this study, primary pulmonary fibroblast cell lines from COPD and non-COPD patients were treated with a small interfering RNA (siRNA) against versican to determine if knockdown of versican could restore the deposition of insoluble elastin. Versican siRNA treatment reduced versican expression and secretion by pulmonary fibroblasts from both COPD and non-COPD patients (P<0.01) and significantly increased deposition of insoluble elastin in the COPD cell cultures (P<0.05). The treatment, however, did not significantly affect production of soluble elastin (tropoelastin) in either the COPD or non-COPD cell cultures, supporting a role for versican in inhibiting assembly but not synthesis of tropoelastin. These results suggest that removal or knockdown of versican may be a possible therapeutic strategy for increasing deposition of insoluble elastin and stimulating repair of elastic fibers in COPD lung.

Keywords: pulmonary fibroblasts, COPD, elastin, versican

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