Macrophages utilize the mitochondrial calcium uniporter for profibrotic polarization

Academic Article


  • Fibrosis in multiple organs, including the liver, kidney, and lung, often occurs secondary to environmental exposure. Asbestos exposure is one important environmental cause of lung fibrosis. The mechanisms that mediate fibrosis is not fully understood, althoughmitochondrial oxidative stress in alveolarmacrophages is critical for fibrosis development.Mitochondrial Ca2+ levels can be associated with production of reactive oxygen species. Here, we show that patients with asbestosis have higher levels of mitochondrial Ca2+ compared with normal patients. Themitochondrial calciumuniporter (MCU) is a highly selective ion channel that transports Ca2+ into the mitochondrialmatrix to modulate metabolism. Asbestos exposure increased mitochondrial Ca2+ influx in alveolar macrophages from wild-type, but not MCU+/-, mice. MCU expression polarized macrophages to a profibrotic phenotype after exposure to asbestos, and the profibrotic polarization was regulated by MCU-mediated ATP production. Profibrotic polarization was abrogated when MCU was absent or its activity was blocked. Of more importance,mice thatwere deficient in MCU were protected from pulmonary fibrosis. Regulation of mitochondrial Ca2+ suggests that MCU may play apivotal role inthe development of fibrosis and could potentiallybe a therapeutic target for pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Published In

  • The FASEB Journal  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gu L; Larson-Casey JL; Carter AB
  • Start Page

  • 3072
  • End Page

  • 3083
  • Volume

  • 31
  • Issue

  • 7