The Role of the Dynamic Lung Extracellular Matrix Environment on Fibroblast Morphology and Inflammation Hackett, Tillie-Louise; Vriesde, Noamie R. T. F.; AL-Fouadi, May; Mostaco-Guidolin, Leila; Maftoun, Delaram; Hsieh, Aileen; Coxson, Nicole; Usman, Kauna; Sin, Don; Booth, Steve; Osei E. T.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) supports lung tissue architecture and physiology by providing mechanical stability and elastic recoil. Over the last several decades, it has become increasingly clear that the stiffness of the ECM governs many cellular processes, including cell-phenotype and functions during development, healing, and disease. Of all the lung ECM proteins, collagen-I is the most abundant and provides tensile strength. In many fibrotic lung diseases, the expression of collagen is increased which affects the stiffness of the surrounding environment. The goal of this study was to assess the effect on fibroblast morphology, cell death, and inflammation when exposed to 2D and 3D low (0.4 mg/mL) versus high (2.0 mg/mL) collagen-I-matrix environments that model the mechanics of the breathing lung. This study demonstrates that human fetal lung fibroblasts (HFL1), grown in a 3D collagen type-I environment compared to a 2D one, do not form cells with a myofibroblast morphology, express less F-actin stress fibers, exhibit less cell death, and significantly produce less pro-inflammatory IL-6 and IL-8 cytokines. Exposure to mechanical strain to mimic breathing (0.2 Hz) led to the loss of HFL1 fibroblast dendritic extensions as well as F-actin stress fibers within the cell cytoskeleton, but did not influence cytokine production or cell death. This dynamic assay gives researchers the ability to consider the assessment of the mechanodynamic nature of the lung ECM environment in disease-relevant models and the potential of mechano-pharmacology to identify therapeutic targets for treatment.
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