Diabetes mellitus (DM) reduces lung function and increases the risk of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and pulmonary fibrosis. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a crucial role in the development of pulmonary fibrosis. The pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis in diabetes remains unknown. We investigated the effects of hyperglycemia on EMT in the lungs of gerbils with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. Diabetic gerbils exhibited a significantly lower volume fraction of the alveolar airspace and significantly higher septal thickness, volume fraction of the alveolar wall, and lung injury scores than did nondiabetic gerbils. The percentage of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine-positive cells and transforming growth factor-β-positive cells was significantly higher, the expression of E-cadherin was significantly lower, and the expression of N-cadherin was significantly higher in diabetic gerbils than in nondiabetic gerbils. These EMT characteristics were associated with a significant increase in α-smooth muscle actin (SMA) expression and collagen deposition in the lungs of diabetic gerbils. The increased α-SMA expression was co-localized with surfactant protein-C in alveolar type II cells in hyperglycemic animals. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that hyperglycemia induces EMT and contributes to lung fibrosis in an experimental DM model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas