Deregulated Stat3 signaling dissociates pulmonary inflammation from emphysema in gp130 mutant mice

Saleela Ruwanpura, Louise McLeod, Alistair Miller, Jessica Jones, Ross Vlahos, Georg Ramm, Anthony Longano, Philip Bardin, Steven Bozinovski, Gary Anderson, Brendan Jenkins

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Interleukin (IL)-6 is a potent immunomodulatory cytokine that is associated with emphysema, a major component of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). IL-6 signaling via the gp130 coreceptor is coupled to multiple signaling pathways, especially the latent transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat)3. However, the pathological role of endogenous gp130-dependent Stat3 activation in emphysema is ill defined. To elucidate the role of the IL-6/gp130/Stat3 signaling axis in the cellular and molecular pathogenesis of emphysema, we employed a genetic complementation strategy using emphysematous gp130(F/F) mice displaying hyperactivation of endogenous Stat3 that were interbred with mice to impede Stat3 activity. Resected human lung tissue from patients with COPD and COPD-free individuals was also evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Genetic reduction of Stat3 hyperactivity in gp130(F/F):Stat3(-/+) mice prevented lung inflammation and excessive protease activity; however, emphysema still developed. In support of these findings, Stat3 activation levels in human lung tissue correlated with the extent of pulmonary inflammation but not airflow obstruction in COPD. Furthermore, COPD lung tissue displayed increased levels of IL-6 and apoptotic alveolar cells, supporting our previous observation that increased endogenous IL-6 expression in the lungs of gp130(F/F) mice contributes to emphysema by promoting alveolar cell apoptosis. Collectively, our data suggest that IL-6 promotes emphysema via upregulation of Stat3-independent apoptosis, whereas IL-6 induction of lung inflammation occurs via Stat3. We propose that while discrete targeting of Stat3 may alleviate pulmonary inflammation, global targeting of IL-6 potentially represents a therapeutically advantageous approach to combat COPD phenotypes where emphysema predominates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L627 - L639
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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