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Immunology - Respiratory Medicine

Overexpression of Chitinase 3-Like 1/YKL-40 in Lung-Specific IL-18-Transgenic Mice, Smokers and COPD
Published: Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Author: Yuki Sakazaki et al.

by Yuki Sakazaki, Tomoaki Hoshino, Satoko Takei, Masanori Sawada, Hanako Oda, Shin-ichi Takenaka, Haruki Imaoka, Kazuko Matsunaga, Toshio Ota, Yuzuru Abe, Ichiro Miki, Kiminori Fujimoto, Tomotaka Kawayama, Seiya Kato, Hisamichi Aizawa

We analyzed the lung mRNA expression profiles of a murine model of COPD developed using a lung-specific IL-18-transgenic mouse. In this transgenic mouse, the expression of 608 genes was found to vary more than 2-fold in comparison with control WT mice, and was clustered into 4 groups. The expression of 140 genes was constitutively increased at all ages, 215 genes increased gradually with aging, 171 genes decreased gradually with aging, and 82 genes decreased temporarily at 9 weeks of age. Interestingly, the levels of mRNA for the chitinase-related genes chitinase 3-like 1 (Chi3l1), Chi3l3, and acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) were significantly higher in the lungs of transgenic mice than in control mice. The level of Chi3l1 protein increased significantly with aging in the lungs and sera of IL-18 transgenic, but not WT mice. Previous studies have suggested Chi3l3 and AMCase are IL-13-driven chitinase-like proteins. However, IL-13 gene deletion did not reduce the level of Chi3l1 protein in the lungs of IL-18 transgenic mice. Based on our murine model gene expression data, we analyzed the protein level of YKL-40, the human homolog of Chi3l1, in sera of smokers and COPD patients. Sixteen COPD patients had undergone high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) examination. Emphysema was assessed by using a density mask with a cutoff of -950 Hounsfield units to calculate the low-attenuation area percentage (LAA%). We observed significantly higher serum levels in samples from 28 smokers and 45 COPD patients compared to 30 non-smokers. In COPD patients, there was a significant negative correlation between serum level of YKL-40 and %FEV1. Moreover, there was a significant positive correlation between the serum levels of YKL-40 and LAA% in COPD patients. Thus our results suggest that chitinase-related genes may play an important role in establishing pulmonary inflammation and emphysematous changes in smokers and COPD patients.