Glucocorticoid and estrogen receptors are reduced in mitochondria of lung epithelial cells in asthma

Davina C.M. Simoes, Anna Maria G. Psarra, Thais Mauad, Ioanna Pantou, Charis Roussos, Constantine E. Sekeris, Christina Gratziou

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Mitochondrial glucocorticoid (mtGR) and estrogen (mtER) receptors participate in the coordination of the cell's energy requirement and in the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation enzyme (OXPHOS) biosynthesis, affecting reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and induction of apoptosis. Although activation of mtGR and mtER is known to trigger anti-inflammatory signals, little information exists on the presence of these receptors in lung tissue and their role in respiratory physiology and disease. Using a mouse model of allergic airway inflammation disease and applying confocal microscopy, subcellular fractionation, and Western blot analysis we showed mitochondrial localization of GRα and ERβ in lung tissue. Allergic airway inflammation caused reduction in mtGRα, mtERβ, and OXPHOS enzyme biosynthesis in lung cells mitochondria and particularly in bronchial epithelial cells mitochondria, which was accompanied by decrease in lung mitochondrial mass and induction of apoptosis. Confirmation and validation of the reduction of the mitochondrial receptors in lung epithelial cells in human asthma was achieved by analyzing autopsies from fatal asthma cases. The presence of the mitochondrial GRα and ERβ in lung tissue cells and especially their reduction in bronchial epithelial cells during allergic airway inflammation suggests a crucial role of these receptors in the regulation of mitochondrial function in asthma, implicating their involvement in the pathophysiology of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere39183
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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