UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Glucocorticoid-driven transcriptomes in human airway epithelial cells: commonalities, differences and functional insight from cell lines and primary cells Mostafa, Mahmoud M.; Rider, Christopher F.; Shah, Suharsh; Traves, Suzanne L.; Gordon, Paul M. K.; Miller-Larsson, Anna; Leigh, Richard; Newton, Robert


Background: Glucocorticoids act on the glucocorticoid receptor (GR; NR3C1) to resolve inflammation and, as inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), are the cornerstone of treatment for asthma. However, reduced efficacy in severe disease or exacerbations indicates a need to improve ICS actions. Methods: Glucocorticoid-driven transcriptomes were compared using PrimeView microarrays between primary human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cells and the model cell lines, pulmonary type II A549 and bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells. Results: In BEAS-2B cells, budesonide induced (≥2-fold, P ≤ 0.05) or, in a more delayed fashion, repressed (≤0.5-fold, P ≤ 0.05) the expression of 63, 133, 240, and 257 or 15, 56, 236, and 344 mRNAs at 1, 2, 6, and 18 h, respectively. Within the early-induced mRNAs were multiple transcriptional activators and repressors, thereby providing mechanisms for the subsequent modulation of gene expression. Using the above criteria, 17 (BCL6, BIRC3, CEBPD, ERRFI1, FBXL16, FKBP5, GADD45B, IRS2, KLF9, PDK4, PER1, RGCC, RGS2, SEC14L2, SLC16A12, TFCP2L1, TSC22D3) induced and 8 (ARL4C, FLRT2, IER3, IL11, PLAUR, SEMA3A, SLC4A7, SOX9) repressed mRNAs were common between A549, BEAS-2B and HBE cells at 6 h. As absolute gene expression change showed greater commonality, lowering the cut-off (≥1.25 or ≤ 0.8-fold) within these groups produced 93 induced and 82 repressed genes in common. Since large changes in few mRNAs and/or small changes in many mRNAs may drive function, gene ontology (GO)/pathway analyses were performed using both stringency criteria. Budesonide-induced genes showed GO term enrichment for positive and negative regulation of transcription, signaling, proliferation, apoptosis, and movement, as well as FOXO and PI3K-Akt signaling pathways. Repressed genes were enriched for inflammatory signaling pathways (TNF, NF-κB) and GO terms for cytokine activity, chemotaxis and cell signaling. Reduced growth factor expression and effects on proliferation and apoptosis were highlighted. Conclusions: While glucocorticoids repress mRNAs associated with inflammation, prior induction of transcriptional activators and repressors may explain longer-term responses to these agents. Furthermore, positive and negative effects on signaling, proliferation, migration and apoptosis were revealed. Since many such gene expression changes occurred in human airways post-ICS inhalation, the effects observed in cell lines and primary HBE cells in vitro may be relevant to ICS in vivo.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)