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Induced trefoil factor family 1 expression by trans-differentiating Clara cells in a murine asthma model

: Kouznetsova, I.; Chwieralski, C.E.; Bälder, R.; Hinz, M.; Braun, A.; Krug, N.; Hoffmann, W.


American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology 36 (2007), No.3, pp.286-295
ISSN: 1044-1549
ISSN: 1535-4989
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ITEM ()
TFF-domain; trefoil factor; airway remodeling; Clara cell; mucin; CLCA; ependimyn; musocal repair; Asthma; inflammation; goblet cell

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways which is accompanied by goblet cell metaplasia and mucus hypersecretion. Trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides represent major secretory products of the respiratory tract and are synthesized together with mucins. In the murine lung, TFF2 is mainly expressed whereas TFF1 transcripts represent only a minor species. TFF peptides are well known for their motogenic and anti-apoptotic effects, and they modulate the inflammatory response of bronchial epithelial cells. Here, an established mouse model of asthma was investigated, i.e. exposure to Aspergillus fumigatus (AF) antigens. RT-PCR analysis of lung tissue showed elevated levels particularly of TFF1 transcripts in AF-sensitized/ challenged animals. In contrast, transcripts encoding Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP/CC10) were strongly diminished in these animals. For comparison, the expression of the goblet cell secretory granule marker mCLCA3/Gob-5, the mucins Muc1-Muc6 and Muc19, the secretoglobins ScgB3A1 and ScgB3A2 as well as the mammalian ependymin-related gene MERP2 were monitored. Immunohistochemistry localized TFF1 mainly in cells with a mixed phenotype, e.g. TFF1-positive cells stain with the lectin WGA, which recognizes mucins characteristic of goblet cells. Additionally, these cells express CCSP/CC10, a Clara cell marker. When compared with mucins or CCSP/CC10, TFF1 was stored in a different population of secretory granules localized at the more basolateral portion of these cells. Thus, the results presented indicate for the first time that allergen exposure leads to the trans-differentiation of Clara cells towards a TFF1-expressing mucous phenotype.