Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is primarily caused by inhalation of cigarette smoke and is the third leading cause of death worldwide. Pulmonary surfactant, a complex of phospholipids and proteins, plays an essential role in respiration by reducing the surface tension in the alveoli. Lysophosphatidylcholine acyltransferase 1 (LPCAT1) is an enzyme that catalyzes the biosynthesis of surfactant lipids and is expressed in type 2 alveolar epithelial cells. Its dysfunction is suggested to be involved in various lung diseases; however, the relationship between LPCAT1 and COPD remains unclear. To investigate the role of LPCAT1 in the pathology of COPD, we analyzed an elastase-induced emphysema model using Lpcat1 knockout (KO) mice. In Lpcat1 KO mice, elastase-induced emphysema was significantly exacerbated with increased apoptotic cells, which was not ameliorated by supplementation with dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine, which is a major component of the surfactant synthesized by LPCAT1. We subsequently evaluated the effects of cigarette smoking on primary human type 2 alveolar epithelial cells (hAEC2s) and found that cigarette smoke extract (CSE) downregulated the expression of Lpcat1. Furthermore, RNA sequencing analysis revealed that the apoptosis pathway was significantly enriched in CSE-treated primary hAEC2s. Finally, we downregulated the expression of Lpcat1 using small interfering RNA, which resulted in enhanced CSE-induced apoptosis in A549 cells. Taken together, cigarette smoke–induced downregulation of LPCAT1 can promote the exacerbation of pulmonary emphysema by increasing the susceptibility of alveolar epithelial cells to apoptosis, thereby suggesting that Lpcat1 is a novel therapeutic target for irreversible emphysema.
- dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine
- type 2 alveolar epithelial cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy