Hyaluronan fragments/CD44 mediate oxidative stress-induced MUC5B up-regulation in airway epithelium

S. Marina Casalino-Matsuda, Maria E. Monzon, Anthony J. Day, Rosanna M. Forteza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Mucus hypersecretion with elevated MUC5B mucin production is a pathologic feature in many airway diseases associated with oxidative stress. In the present work, we evaluated MUC5B expression in airways and in primary cultures of normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells, as well as the mechanisms involved in its regulation. We found that oxidative stress generated by cigarette smoke or reactive oxygen species (ROS) induces MUC5B up-regulation in airway epithelium from smokers and in NHBE cells, respectively. We have previously shown that ROS-induced MUC5AC expression in NHBE cells is dependent on hyaluronan depolymerization and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. Since hyaluronan fragments can activate MAPK through the hyaluronan receptor CD44, and CD44 heterodimerizes with EGFR, we tested whether ROS and/ or hyaluronan fragments induce MUC5B mRNA and protein expression through CD44/EGFR. We found that ROS promotes CD44/EGFR interaction, EGFR/MAPK activation, and MUC5B up-regulation that are prevented by blocking CD44 and/or EGFR. These results were mimicked by hyaluronan fragments. In summary, our results show that oxidative stress in vivo (cigarette smoke) or in vitro (ROS) induces MUC5B up-regulation. This ROS-induced MUC5B expression requires CD44 as well as EGFR and MAPK activation. In addition, we also provide evidence that hyaluronan fragments are sufficient to induce CD44/EGFR interaction and downstream signaling that results in MUC5B up-regulation, suggesting that hyaluronan depolymerization during inflammatory responses could be directly involved in the induction of mucus hypersecretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • Airway epithelium
  • CD44
  • Hyaluronan fragments
  • MUC5B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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