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Respiratory Medicine

Age-Dependent Decline in Mouse Lung Regeneration with Loss of Lung Fibroblast Clonogenicity and Increased Myofibroblastic Differentiation
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Author: Julia A. Paxson et al.

by Julia A. Paxson, Alisha Gruntman, Christopher D. Parkin, Melissa R. Mazan, Airiel Davis, Edward P. Ingenito, Andrew M. Hoffman

While aging leads to a reduction in the capacity for regeneration after pneumonectomy (PNX) in most mammals, this biological phenomenon has not been characterized over the lifetime of mice. We measured the age-specific (3, 9, 24 month) effects of PNX on physiology, morphometry, cell proliferation and apoptosis, global gene expression, and lung fibroblast phenotype and clonogenicity in female C57BL6 mice. The data show that only 3 month old mice were fully capable of restoring lung volumes by day 7 and total alveolar surface area by 21 days. By 9 months, the rate of regeneration was slower (with incomplete regeneration by 21 days), and by 24 months there was no regrowth 21 days post-PNX. The early decline in regeneration rate was not associated with changes in alveolar epithelial cell type II (AECII) proliferation or apoptosis rate. However, significant apoptosis and lack of cell proliferation was evident after PNX in both total cells and AECII cells in 24 mo mice. Analysis of gene expression at several time points (1, 3 and 7 days) post-PNX in 9 versus 3 month mice was consistent with a myofibroblast signature (increased Tnc, Lox1, Col3A1, Eln and Tnfrsf12a) and more alpha smooth muscle actin (aSMA) positive myofibroblasts were present after PNX in 9 month than 3 month mice. Isolated lung fibroblasts showed a significant age-dependent loss of clonogenicity. Moreover, lung fibroblasts isolated from 9 and 17 month mice exhibited higher aSMA, Col3A1, Fn1 and S100A expression, and lower expression of the survival gene Mdk consistent with terminal differentiation. These data show that concomitant loss of clonogenicity and progressive myofibroblastic differentiation contributes to the age-dependent decline in the rate of lung regeneration.