Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease appears to occur slowly and progressively over many years, with both genetic factors and environmental modifiers contributing to its pathogenesis. Although the c-Jun/activator protein 1 transcriptional factor regulates cell proliferation, apoptosis, and inflammatory responses, its role in lung pathogenesis is largely unknown. In this study, we report decreased expression levels of c-Jun mRNA and protein in the lung tissues of patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the genetic deletion of c-Jun specifically in alveolar epithelial cells causes progressive emphysema with lung inflammation and alveolar air space enlargement, which are cardinal features of emphysema. Although mice lacking c-Jun specifically in lung alveolar epithelial cells appear normal at the age of 6 weeks, when exposed to long-term cigarette smoke, c-Junmutant mice display more lung inflammation with perivascular and peribronchiolar infiltrates compared with controls. These results demonstrate that the c-Jun/activator protein 1 pathway is critical for maintaining lung alveolar cell homeostasis and that loss of its expression can contribute to lung inflammation and progressive emphysema.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine