Research Papers:

Oncoprotein mdig contributes to silica-induced pulmonary fibrosis by altering balance between Th17 and Treg T cells

Chitra Thakur _, Michael Wolfarth, Jiaying Sun, Yadong Zhang, Yongju Lu, Lori Battelli, Dale W. Porter and Fei Chen

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:3722-3736. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2914

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Chitra Thakur1,*, Michael Wolfarth2,*, Jiaying Sun1,3, Yadong Zhang2,4, Yongju Lu1, Lori Battelli2, Dale W. Porter2, Fei Chen1,2

1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA

2Pathology and Physiology Research Branch, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, USA

3Respiratory Medicine, The 4th Affiliated Hospital, China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China

4Central Laboratory, The Central Hospital of Wuhan, Tongji Medical School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Fei Chen, e-mail: [email protected]

Dale W. Porter, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: mdig, fibrosis, Th17, silica, gene knockout

Received: November 05, 2014     Accepted: December 14, 2014     Published: February 11, 2015


Mineral dust-induced gene (mdig, also named Mina53) was first identified from alveolar macrophages of the coal miners with chronic lung inflammation or fibrosis, but how this gene is involved in lung diseases is poorly understood. Here we show that heterozygotic knockout of mdig (mdig+/−) ameliorates silica-induced lung fibrosis by altering the balance between Th17 cells and Treg cells. Relative to the wild type (WT) mice, infiltration of the macrophages and Th17 cells was reduced in lungs from silica-exposed mdig+/− mice. In contrast, an increased infiltration of the T regulatory (Treg) cells to the lung intestitium was observed in the mdig+/− mice treated with silica. Both the number of Th17 cells in the lung lymph nodes and the level of IL-17 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids were decreased in the mdig+/− mice in response to silica. Thus, these results suggest that mdig may contribute to silica-induced lung fibrosis by altering the balance between Th17 and Treg cells. Genetic deficiency of mdig impairs Th17 cell infiltration and function, but favors infiltration of the Treg cells, the immune suppressive T cells that are able to limit the inflammatory responses by repressing the Th17 cells and macrophages.

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