PLoS One 2012 16;7(7):e40789. Epub 2012 Jul 16.
Neonatology Division, Department of Pediatrics, Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.
Acute exacerbations of pulmonary fibrosis are characterized by rapid decrements in lung function. Environmental factors that may contribute to acute exacerbations remain poorly understood. We have previously demonstrated that exposure to inhaled lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induces expression of genes associated with fibrosis. To address whether exposure to LPS could exacerbate fibrosis, we exposed male C57BL/6 mice to crystalline silica, or vehicle, followed 28 days later by LPS or saline inhalation. We observed that mice receiving both silica and LPS had significantly more total inflammatory cells, more whole lung lavage MCP-1, MIP-2, KC and IL-1β, more evidence of oxidative stress and more total lung hydroxyproline than mice receiving either LPS alone, or silica alone. Blocking oxidative stress with N-acetylcysteine attenuated whole lung inflammation but had no effect on total lung hydroxyproline. These observations suggest that exposure to innate immune stimuli, such as LPS in the environment, may exacerbate stable pulmonary fibrosis via mechanisms that are independent of inflammation and oxidative stress.