Characterisation of the proximal airway squamous metaplasia induced by chronic tobacco smoke exposure in spontaneously hypertensive rats

Sarah J. Bolton, Kate Pinnion, Victor Oreffo, Martyn Foster, Kent E Pinkerton

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Background: Continuous exposure to tobacco smoke (TS) is a key cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a complex multifactorial disease that is difficult to model in rodents. The spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rat exhibits several COPD-associated co-morbidities such as hypertension and increased coagulation. We have investigated whether SH rats are a more appropriate animal paradigm of COPD.Methods: SH rats were exposed to TS for 6 hours/day, 3 days/week for 14 weeks, and the lung tissues examined by immunohistochemistry.Results: TS induced a CK13-positive squamous metaplasia in proximal airways, which also stained for Ki67 and p63. We hypothesise that this lesion arises by basal cell proliferation, which differentiates to a squamous cell phenotype. Differences in staining profiles for the functional markers CC10 and surfactant D, but not phospho-p38, indicated loss of ability to function appropriately as secretory cells. Within the parenchyma, there were also differences in the staining profiles for CC10 and surfactant D, indicating a possible attempt to compensate for losses in proximal airways. In human COPD sections, areas of CK13-positive squamous metaplasia showed sporadic p63 staining, suggesting that unlike the rat, this is not a basal cell-driven lesion.Conclusion: This study demonstrates that although proximal airway metaplasia in rat and human are both CK13+ and therefore squamous, they potentially arise by different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
JournalRespiratory Research
StatePublished - Nov 24 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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