Relationship between matrix production by bronchial fibroblasts and lung function and AHR in asthma.
We have previously demonstrated that the asthma-associated proinflammatory eicosanoid leukotriene D4 (LTD4) is co-mitogenic with insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in airway smooth-muscle (ASM) cells in vitro. This synergistic effect of LTD4 and IGF on ASM cell growth involves proteolysis of ASM-produced IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs), which are cell growth-inhibitory proteins. We also identified this IGFBP protease to be the matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), and showed that this enzyme had a significant role in modulating IGF action in ASM cells. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that ASM hyperplasia in vivo involves induction of MMP-1 leading to IGFBP proteolysis. We detected the presence of MMP-1 and measured its levels in human airway tissue sections prepared from nonasthmatic and asthmatic subjects. Six nonasthmatic and six asthmatic airway tissue samples were analyzed for immunoreactive MMP-1 through an immunohistochemical detection method. Both the bronchial and tracheal smooth-muscle cells from different regions of the same sample were examined and documented. The immunostaining for MMP-1 was significantly elevated in both the bronchial and tracheal smooth-muscle cells of the airway sections from asthmatic samples relative to that of the nonasthmatic samples. The differences in levels of MMP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and IGFBP proteolytic activity were quantified using densitometric analyses of the ASM tissue extracts that were separated on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The MMP-1 levels in the asthmatic airway tissue extracts were 12-fold higher than those found in control samples. In addition, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3, which we have previously demonstrated to be proteolytic substrates of MMP-1, were found to be cleaved in asthmatic airway tissue extracts. Furthermore, the asthmatic airway extracts contained IGFBP proteolytic activity that was shown by immunodepletion studies to be due to MMP-1. These observations demonstrate that MMP-1 may play a significant role in inducing ASM hyperplasia and airway obstruction in asthma by modulating the IGF axis.