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      ACE2 Attenuates Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in MLE-12 Cells Induced by Silica

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          The role of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in silicosis remains unknown, although previous studies have suggested that ACE2 may be beneficial. We, therefore, investigated the effect of ACE2 on silicosis, particularly with regard to its role in regulating the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by silica, with the aim to uncover a new potential target for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.

          Materials and Methods

          We employed wild-type mice treated with diminazene aceturate (DIZE, an ACE2 activator, 15 mg/kg/day for 4 weeks), hACE2-transgenic mice (overexpress the ACE2 gene), and the mouse lung type II epithelial cell line treated with DIZE (10 −7 M for 48 h) or angiotensin-(1–7) [Ang-(1–7)] (10 −4 M for 48 h), following induced fibrotic responses to determine the protective potential of ACE2. Silicosis models were established by orotracheal instillation of SiO 2 (2.5 mg/mouse). Immunostaining was used to determine α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression. The activities of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and ACE2 and the levels of angiotensin II (Ang II) and Ang-(1-7) were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The mRNA expression of ACE and ACE2, and protein expression of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) components and EMT indicators were studied by qRT-PCR and Western blot, respectively.


          DIZE treatment and overexpression of ACE2 markedly inhibited the formation of silica-induced lung fibrosis and increased the level of E-cadherin, with concomitant downregulation of pro-collagen, vimentin, and α-SMA via RAS signaling. Furthermore, DIZE and Ang-(1–7) attenuated the EMT and collagen deposition induced by silica in MLE-12 cells. Moreover, these effects were abrogated by MLN-4760 (a specific ACE2 inhibitor) and A779 (a specific Mas receptor blocker).


          The overexpression of ACE2 and treatment with DIZE can ameliorate EMT in silicotic mice via activation of the ACE2-Ang-(1–7)-Mas receptor axis, and these changes are accompanied by suppression of the ACE–Ang II–AT1 receptor axis.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 prevents lipopolysaccharide-induced rat acute lung injury via suppressing the ERK1/2 and NF-κB signaling pathways

          Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by severe sepsis remains a major challenge in intensive care medicine. ACE2 has been shown to protect against lung injury. However, the mechanisms of its protective effects on ARDS are largely unknown. Here, we report that ACE2 prevents LPS-induced ARDS by inhibiting MAPKs and NF-κB signaling pathway. Lentiviral packaged Ace2 cDNA or Ace2 shRNA was intratracheally administrated into the lungs of male SD rats. Two weeks after gene transfer, animals received LPS (7.5 mg/Kg) injection alone or in combination with Mas receptor antagonist A779 (10 μg/Kg) or ACE2 inhibitor MLN-4760 (1 mg/Kg) pretreatment. LPS-induced lung injury and inflammatory response were significantly prevented by ACE2 overexpression and deteriorated by Ace2 shRNA. A779 or MLN-4760 pretreatment abolished the protective effects of ACE2. Moreover, overexpression of ACE2 significantly reduced the Ang II/Ang-(1-7) ratio in BALF and up-regulated Mas mRNA expression in lung, which was reversed by A779. Importantly, the blockade of ACE2 on LPS-induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38 and p50/p65 was also abolished by A779. Whereas, only the ERK1/2 inhibitor significantly attenuated lung injury in ACE2 overexpressing rats pretreated with A779. Our observation suggests that AEC2 attenuates LPS-induced ARDS via the Ang-(1-7)/Mas pathway by inhibiting ERK/NF-κB activation.
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            Regulation of alveolar epithelial cell survival by the ACE-2/angiotensin 1-7/Mas axis.

            Earlier work from this laboratory demonstrated that apoptosis of alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) requires autocrine generation of angiotensin (ANG) II. More recent studies showed that angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2), which degrades ANGII to form ANG1-7, is protective but severely downregulated in human and experimental lung fibrosis. Here it was theorized that ACE-2 and its product ANG1-7 might therefore regulate AEC apoptosis. To evaluate this hypothesis, the AEC cell line MLE-12 and primary cultures of rat AECs were exposed to the profibrotic apoptosis inducers ANGII or bleomycin (Bleo). Markers of apoptosis (caspase-9 or -3 activation and nuclear fragmentation), steady-state ANGII and ANG1-7, and JNK phosphorylation were measured thereafter. In the absence of Bleo, inhibition of ACE-2 by small interfering RNA or by a competitive inhibitor (DX600 peptide) caused a reciprocal increase in autocrine ANGII and corresponding decrease in ANG1-7 in cell culture media (both P < 0.05) and, moreover, induced AEC apoptosis. At baseline (without inhibitor), ANG1-7 in culture media was 10-fold higher than ANGII (P < 0.01). Addition of purified ANGII or bleomycin-induced caspase activation, nuclear fragmentation, and JNK phosphorylation in cultured AECs. However, preincubation with ANG1-7 (0.1 μM) prevented JNK phosphorylation and apoptosis. Moreover, pretreatment with A779, a specific blocker of the ANG1-7 receptor mas, prevented ANG1-7 blockade of JNK phosphorylation, caspase activation, and nuclear fragmentation. These data demonstrate that ACE-2 regulates AEC survival by balancing the proapoptotic ANGII and its antiapoptotic degradation product ANG1-7. They also suggest that ANG1-7 inhibits AEC apoptosis through the ANG1-7 receptor mas.
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              Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 is primarily epithelial and is developmentally regulated in the mouse lung

              Abstract Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) 2 is a carboxypeptidase that shares 42% amino acid homology with ACE. Little is known about the regulation or pattern of expression of ACE2 in the mouse lung, including its definitive cellular distribution or developmental changes. Based on Northern blot and RT‐PCR data, we report two distinct transcripts of ACE2 in the mouse lung and kidney and describe a 5′ exon 1a previously unidentified in the mouse. Western blots show multiple isoforms of ACE2, with predominance of a 75–80 kDa protein in the mouse lung versus a 120 kDa form in the mouse kidney. Immunohistochemistry localizes ACE2 protein to Clara cells, type II cells, and endothelium and smooth muscle of small and medium vessels in the mouse lung. ACE2 mRNA levels peak at embryonic day 18.5 in the mouse lung, and immunostaining demonstrates protein primarily in the bronchiolar epithelium at that developmental time point. In murine cell lines ACE2 is strongly expressed in the Clara cell line mtCC, as opposed to the low mRNA expression detected in E10 (type I‐like alveolar epithelial cell line), MLE‐15 (type II alveolar epithelial cell line), MFLM‐4 (fetal pulmonary vasculature cell line), and BUMPT‐7 (renal proximal tubule cell line). In summary, murine pulmonary ACE2 appears to be primarily epithelial, is developmentally regulated, and has two transcripts that include a previously undescribed exon. J. Cell. Biochem. 101:1278–1291, 2007. © 2007 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                21 April 2020
                : 14
                : 1547-1559
                [1 ]School of Public Health, North China University of Science and Technology , Tangshan, Hebei 063210, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]School of Basic Medical Sciences, North China University of Science and Technology , Tangshan, Hebei 063210, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]Hebei Key Laboratory for Organ Fibrosis, North China University of Science and Technology , Tangshan, Hebei 063210, People’s Republic of China
                [4 ]Academic Affairs Office, North China University of Science and Technology , Tangshan, Hebei 063210, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Fang Yang School of Public Health, North China University of Science and Technology , No. 21 Bohai Road, Caofeidian Eco-City, Tangshan, Hebei063210, People’s Republic of ChinaTel +86 18633309386Fax +86-315-8805522 Email fangyang@ncst.edu.cn
                Xiuhong Yang School of Basic Medical Sciences, North China University of Science and Technology , No. 21 Bohai Road, Caofeidian Eco-City, Tangshan, Hebei063210, People’s Republic of China Email yangxiuhong@ncst.edu.cn

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2020 Li et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 10, References: 34, Pages: 13
                This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81972988); National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81472953); Natural Science Foundation of Hebei Province (grant no. H2016209170); Postgraduate Innovation Funding Program of Hebei Province (No. CXZZBS2017127); Postgraduate Student Innovation Fund of North China University of Science and Technology (grant no. 2017B10).
                Original Research


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