Cellular crosstalk between airway epithelial and endothelial cells regulates barrier functions during exposure to double‐stranded RNA
The blood-air barrier in the lung consists of the alveolar epithelium, the underlying capillary endothelium, their basement membranes and the interstitial space between the cell layers. Little is known about the interactions between the alveolar and the blood compartment. The aim of the present study was to gain first insights into the possible interplay between these two neighbored cell layers. We established an in vitro Transwell model of the alveolar epithelium based on human cell line H441 and investigated the influence of conditioned medium obtained from human lung endothelial cell line HPMEC-ST1.6R on the barrier properties of the H441 layers. As control for tissue specificity H441 layers were exposed to conditioned medium from human brain endothelial cell line hCMEC/D3. Addition of dexamethasone was necessary to obtain stable H441 cell layers. Moreover, dexamethasone increased expression of cell type I markers (caveolin-1, RAGE) and cell type II marker SP-B, whereas decreased the transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) in a concentration dependent manner. Soluble factors obtained from the lung endothelial cell line increased the barrier significantly proven by TEER values and fluorescein permeability on the functional level and by the differential expression of tight junctional proteins on the molecular level. In contrast to this, soluble factors derived from brain endothelial cells weakened the barrier significantly. In conclusion, soluble factors from lung endothelial cells can strengthen the alveolar epithelium barrier in vitro, which suggests communication between endothelial and epithelial cells regulating the integrity of the blood-air barrier.