Angiogenesis and vascular remodeling support fibroproliferative processes; however, no study has addressed the importance of angiogenesis during fibro-obliteration of the allograft airway during bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) that occurs after lung transplantation. The ELR+ CXC chemokines both mediate neutrophil recruitment and promote angiogenesis. Their shared endothelial cell receptor is the G-coupled protein receptor CXC chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2). We found that elevated levels of multiple ELR+ CXC chemokines correlated with the presence of BOS. Proof-of-concept studies using a murine model of BOS not only demonstrated an early neutrophil infiltration but also marked vascular remodeling in the tracheal allografts. In addition, tracheal allograft ELR+ CXC chemokines were persistently expressed even in the absence of significant neutrophil infiltration and were temporally associated with vascular remodeling during fibro-obliteration of the tracheal allograft. Furthermore, in neutralizing studies, treatment with anti-CXCR2 Abs inhibited early neutrophil infiltration and later vascular remodeling, which resulted in the attenuation of murine BOS. A more profound attenuation of fibro-obliteration was seen when CXCR2–/– mice received cyclosporin A. This supports the notion that the CXCR2/CXCR2 ligand biological axis has a bimodal function during the course of BOS: early, it is important for neutrophil recruitment and later, during fibro-obliteration, it is important for vascular remodeling independent of neutrophil recruitment.
John A. Belperio, Michael P. Keane, Marie D. Burdick, Brigitte Gomperts, Ying Ying Xue, Kurt Hong, Javier Mestas, Abbas Ardehali, Borna Mehrad, Rajan Saggar, Joseph P. Lynch III, David J. Ross, Robert M. Strieter