Insulin resistance mediates high-fat diet-induced pulmonary fibrosis and airway hyperresponsiveness through the TGF-β1 pathway

Yoon Hee Park, Eun Yi Oh, Heejae Han, Misuk Yang, Hye Jung Park, Kyung Hee Park, Jae Hyun Lee, Jung Won Park

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Prior studies have reported the presence of lung fibrosis and enhanced airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) in mice with high-fat-diet (HFD)-induced obesity. This study evaluated the role of TGF-β1 in HFD-induced AHR and lung fibrosis in a murine model. We generated HFD-induced obesity mice and performed glucose and insulin tolerance tests. HFD mice with or without ovalbumin sensitization and challenge were also treated with an anti-TGF-β1 neutralizing antibody. AHR to methacholine, inflammatory cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and histological features were evaluated. Insulin was intranasally administered to normal diet (ND) mice, and in vitro insulin stimulation of BEAS-2b cells was performed. HFD-induced obesity mice had increased insulin resistance, enhanced AHR, peribronchial and perivascular fibrosis, and increased numbers of macrophages in the BALF. However, they did not have meaningful eosinophilic or neutrophilic inflammation in the lungs compared with ND mice. The HFD enhanced TGF-β1 expression in the bronchial epithelium, but we found no differences in the expression of interleukin (IL)−4 or IL-5 in lung homogenates. Administration of the anti-TGF-β1 antibody attenuated HFD-induced AHR and lung fibrosis. It also attenuated goblet cell hyperplasia, but did not affect the AHR and inflammatory cell infiltration induced by OVA challenge. The intranasal administration of insulin enhanced TGF-β1 expression in the bronchial epithelium and lung fibrosis. Stimulating BEAS-2b cells with insulin also increased TGF-β1 production by 24 h. We concluded that HFD-induced obesity-associated insulin resistance enhances TGF-β1 expression in the bronchial epithelium, which may play an important role in the development of lung fibrosis and AHR in obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalExperimental and Molecular Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), which is funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (NRF-2016R1A2B4014288).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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