The airway epithelium regulates responses to aeroallergens, acting as a physical and immunological barrier. In asthma, epithelial barrier function and the expression of adherens junction protein E-cadherin is compromised, but it is unknown whether this is cause or consequence of the disease. We hypothesized that airway epithelial loss of E-cadherin is a critical step in the development of manifestations of asthma. We generated a transgenic mouse model with conditional loss of E-cadherin in lung epithelial cells at birth and onwards. We observed normal lung development at the time of birth in mice lacking E-cadherin in the lung epithelium. However, E-cadherin deficiency led to progressive epithelial damage in mice growing into adulthood, as evidenced by airway epithelial denudation, decreased zonula occludens (ZO)-1 expression, loss of ciliated cells, and enlarged alveolar spaces. In addition, spontaneous goblet cell metaplasia with mucus production was observed. These epithelial changes were accompanied by elevated levels of the epithelial-derived chemokine CCL17, infiltration of eosinophils and dendritic cells, and mucus production. In conclusion, loss of E-cadherin induces features in the lung reminiscent of those observed in asthma, indicating that the disruption of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts may play a key role in the development of asthma manifestations.,
Scientific Reports
Department of Pulmonology

Post, S. (S.), Heijink, I.H. (I. H.), Hesse, L. (L.), Koo, H.K. (H. K.), Shaheen, F. (F.), Fouadi, M. (M.), … Nawijn, M.C. (2018). Characterization of a lung epithelium specific E-cadherin knock-out model: Implications for obstructive lung pathology. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-018-31500-8