J Extracell Vesicles. 2015 Nov 11;4:28388. doi: 10.3402/jev.v4.28388. eCollection 2015.
Suppression of autophagy by extracellular vesicles promotes myofibroblast differentiation in COPD pathogenesis.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs), such as exosomes and microvesicles, encapsulate proteins and microRNAs (miRNAs) as new modulators of both intercellular crosstalk and disease pathogenesis. The composition of EVs is modified by various triggers to maintain physiological homeostasis. In response to cigarette smoke exposure, the lungs develop emphysema, myofibroblast accumulation and airway remodelling, which contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the lung disease pathogenesis through modified EVs in stress physiology is not understood. Here, we investigated an EV-mediated intercellular communication mechanism between primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) and lung fibroblasts (LFs) and discovered that cigarette smoke extract (CSE)-induced HBEC-derived EVs promote myofibroblast differentiation in LFs. Thorough evaluations of the modified EVs and COPD lung samples showed that cigarette smoke induced relative upregulation of cellular and EV miR-210 expression of bronchial epithelial cells. Using co-culture assays, we showed that HBEC-derived EV miR-210 promotes myofibroblast differentiation in LFs. Surprisingly, we found that miR-210 directly regulates autophagy processes via targeting ATG7, and expression levels of miR-210 are inversely correlated with ATG7 expression in LFs. Importantly, autophagy induction was significantly decreased in LFs from COPD patients, and silencing ATG7 in LFs led to myofibroblast differentiation. These findings demonstrate that CSE triggers the modification of EV components and identify bronchial epithelial cell-derived miR-210 as a paracrine autophagy mediator of myofibroblast differentiation that has potential as a therapeutic target for COPD. Our findings show that stressor exposure changes EV compositions as emerging factors, potentially controlling pathological disorders such as airway remodelling in COPD.