Radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis (RIPF) is a chronic, progressive complication of therapeutic irradiation of the thorax. It has been suggested that senescence of type II pneumocytes (AECIIs), an alveolar stem cell, plays a role in the development of RIPF through loss of replicative reserve and via senescent AECII-driven release of proinflammatory and profibrotic cytokines. Within this context, we hypothesized that arachidonate 12-lipoxygenase (12-LOX) is a critical mediator of AECII senescence and RIPF. Treatment of wild-type AECIIs with 12S-hydroxyeicosateraenoic acid (12S-HETE), a downstream product of 12-LOX, was sufficient to induce senescence in a NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4)-dependent manner. Mice deficient in 12-LOX exhibited reduced AECII senescence, pulmonary collagen accumulation and accumulation of alternatively activated (M2) macrophages after thoracic irradiation (5 × 6 Gy) compared to wild-type mice. Conditioned media from irradiated or 12S-HETE-treated primary pneumocytes contained elevated levels of IL-4 and IL-13 compared to untreated pneumocytes. Primary macrophages treated with conditioned media from irradiated AECII demonstrated preferential M2 type polarization when AECIIs were derived from wild-type mice compared to 12-LOX-deficient mice. Together, these data identified 12-LOX as a critical component of RIPF and a therapeutic target for radiation-induced lung injury.
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Vol. 192 • No. 4