Article Text

  1. S Kim1,
  2. P Cheresh1,
  3. RP Jablonski1,
  4. DW Kamp1,
  5. M Eren2,
  6. DE Vaughan2
  1. 1Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  2. 2Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States


Rationale Convincing evidence has emerged that impaired alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) injury and repair resulting from ‘exaggerated’ lung aging and mitochondrial dysfunction are critical determinants of the lung fibrogenic potential of toxic agents, including asbestos fibers, but the mechanisms underlying these findings is unknown. We showed that the extent of AEC mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage and apoptosis are critical determinants of asbestos-induced pulmonary fibrosis (Cheresh et al AJRCMB 2014, Kim et al JBC 2014). Klotho is an age-inhibiting gene and Klotho-deficient mice demonstrate a premature aging phenotype that includes a reduced lifespan, arteriosclerosis, and lung oxidative DNA damage, and that Klotho attenuates hyperoxic-induced AEC DNA damage and apoptosis (Ravikumar et al AJP-Lung 2014). We reason that Klotho has an important role in limiting pulmonary fibrosis by protecting the AECs from oxidative stress.

Methods Quantitative PCR-based measurement of mtDNA damage was assessed following transient transfection with wild-type Klotho, Klotho siRNA or AKT siRNA in A549 and/or MLE-12 cells for 48 hrs followed by exposure to either amosite asbestos (25 µg/cm2) or H2O2 (200 µM) for 24 hrs. Apoptosis was assessed by cleaved caspase-9/3 levels and DNA fragmentation assay. Murine pulmonary fibrosis was analyzed in male 8–10 week old WT (C3H/C57B6J) mice or Klotho heterozygous knockout (Kl+/−) mice following intratracheal instillation of a single dose of 100 µg crocidolite asbestos or titanium dioxide (negative control) using histology (fibrosis score by Masson's trichrome staining) and lung collagen (Sircoll assay).

Results Compared to control, amosite asbestos or H2O2 reduces Klotho mRNA/protein expression. Notably, silencing of Klotho promotes oxidative stress-induced AEC mtDNA damage and apoptosis whereas Klotho-enforced expression (EE) and Euk-134, a mitochondrial ROS scavenger, are protective. Interestingly, Kl+/− mice have increased asbestos-induced lung fibrosis. Also, we find that inhibition or silencing of AKT augments oxidant-induced AEC mtDNA damage and apoptosis.

Conclusions Our data demonstrate a crucial role for AEC AKT signaling in mediating the mtDNA damage protective effects of Klotho. Given the importance of AEC aging and apoptosis in pulmonary fibrosis, we reason that Klotho/AKT axis is an innovative therapeutic target for preventing common lung diseases of aging (i.e. IPF, COPD, lung cancer, etc.) for which more effective management regimens are clearly needed.

Funding NIH-RO1 ES020357-01A1 (DK) and VA Merit (DK).

  • Abdomen

Statistics from

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.