Paraquat induces pulmonary fibrosis through Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and myofibroblast differentiation.
Toxicol Lett. 2020 Oct 15 ;333:170-183. Epub 2020 Aug 11. PMID: 32795487
Paraquat (PQ) poisoning-induced pulmonary fibrosis always results in fatal harm to patients. Our study aimed to investigate the functions of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in PQ-induced pulmonary fibrosis. By comparing the proteomic profiles of rat lung tissues using protein array in the absence or presence of PQ, the Wnt/β-catenin signaling, as a fibrosis-related pathway, was discovered to be profoundly activated by PQ. The protein levels of Wnt/β-catenin signaling components including MMP-2, β-catenin, Wnt3a, Wnt10b, Cyclin D1, and WISP1 were increased in PQ-treated rat lung tissues. Surprisingly, PQ was found to be able to promote lung epithelial cells and fibroblasts differentiating into myofibroblasts by activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Dickkopf-1 (DKK1), an antagonist of Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, could inhibit the myofibroblast differentiation and attenuate PQ-induced pulmonary fibrogenesis in vitro and in vivo. The expression levels of fibroblasts markers Vimentin, α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and CollagenI was detected and found to be increased when PQ treated and restored with additional DKK1 treatment. In summary, these assays indicated that Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway played a regulatory role in the differentiation of lung epithelial cells and fibroblasts, and the pathogenesis of pulmonaryfibrosis related to PQ. Inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway may be investigated further as a potential fibrosis suppressor for pulmonary fibrosis therapy.