The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical stage during the development of silicosis fibrosis. In the current study, we hypothesized that the anti-fibrotic tetrapeptide, N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (Ac-SDKP) may exert its anti-fibrotic effects via activation of the TGF-β1/ROCK1 pathway, leading to inhibition of EMT. To address this hypothesis, we first examined the effect of Ac-SDKP upon EMT using an in vivo rat silicosis model, as well as in an in vitro model of TGF-β1-induced EMT. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to examine colocalization of surfactant protein A (SP-A), fibroblast specific protein-1 (FSP-1) and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) in vivo. Western blot analysis was used to examine for changes in the protein levels of E-cadherin (E-cad) and SP-A (epithelial cell markers), vimentin (mesenchymal cell marker), α-SMA (active myofibroblast marker), and collagen I and III in both in vivo and in vitro experiments. Secondly, we utilized Western blot analysis and confocal laser scanning microscopy to examine the protein expression of TGF-β1 and ROCK1 in in vivo and in vitro studies. The results revealed that Ac-SDKP treatment prevented increases in the expression of mesenchymal markers as well as TGF-β1, ROCK1, collagen I and III. Furthermore, Ac-SDKP treatment prevented decreases in the expression of epithelial cell markers in both in vivo and in vitro experiments. Based on the results, we conclude that Ac-SDKP inhibits the transition of epithelial cell-myofibroblast in silicosis via activation of the TGF-β1/ROCK1 signaling pathway, which may serve as a novel mechanism by which it exerts its anti-fibrosis properties.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- TGF-β1/ROCK1 pathway
- Type II alveolar epithelial cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas