Prenatal smoke exposure dysregulates lung epithelial cell differentiation in mouse offspring - Role for AREG-induced EGFR signaling

Khosbayar Lkhagvadorj, Zhijun Zeng, Juan Song, Marjan Reinders-Luinge, Wierd Kooistra, Shanshan Song, Susanne Krauss-Etschmann, Barbro N Melgert, Junjun Cao, Machteld N Hylkema*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Prenatal smoke exposure is a risk factor for impaired lung development in children. Recent studies have indicated that amphiregulin (AREG), which is a ligand of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), has a regulatory role in airway epithelial cell differentiation. In this study, we investigated the effect of prenatal smoke exposure on lung epithelial cell differentiation and linked this with AREG-EGFR signaling in 1-day-old mouse offspring. Bronchial and alveolar epithelial cell differentiations were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Areg, epidermal growth factor (Egf), and mRNA expressions of specific markers for bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells were assessed by RT-qPCR. The results in neonatal lungs were validated in an AREG-treated three-dimensional mouse lung organoid model. We found that prenatal smoke exposure reduced the number of ciliated cells and the expression of the cilia-related transcription factor Foxj1, whereas it resulted in higher expression of mucus-related transcription factors Spdef and Foxm1 in the lung. Moreover, prenatally smoke-exposed offspring had higher numbers of alveolar epithelial type II cells (AECII) and lower expression of the AECI-related Pdpn and Gramd2 markers. This was accompanied by higher expression of Areg and lower expression of Egf in prenatally smoke-exposed offspring. In bronchial organoids, AREG treatment resulted in fewer ciliated cells and more basal cells when compared with non-treated bronchiolar organoids. In alveolar organoids, AREG treatment led to more AECII cells than non-treated AECII cells. Taken together, the observed impaired bronchial and alveolar cell development in prenatally smoke-exposed neonatal offspring may be induced by increased AREG-EGFR signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L742-L751
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4
Early online date12-Aug-2020
Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2020

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