Crosstalk between alveolar macrophages and alveolar epithelial cells/fibroblasts contributes to the pulmonary toxicity of gefitinib

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Toxicol Lett. 2020 Nov 25:S0378-4274(20)30474-4. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2020.11.011. Online ahead of print.


Gefitinib is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have specific EGFR mutations. Pulmonary toxicity is one of the fatal adverse effects of gefitinib and the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Here we demonstrated that alveolar macrophages contributed to gefitinib-induced pulmonary toxicity through promoting alveolar epithelial cells to undergo epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and inducing activation and antiapoptotic effect in fibroblasts. Further, we found that alveolar macrophage-secreted MCP-1 worked as a key factor in the pathologic changes of these two cell types. Gefitinib increased Mcp-1 transcription level via the nuclear import of the transcription factor STAT3. In conclusion, our data uncovered the underlying mechanisms of macrophage-promoted pulmonary toxicity in the presence of gefitinib. MCP-1 antibody or inhibition of STAT3 activation may represent novel therapeutic strategies for preventing gefitinib-induced pulmonary toxicity.

PMID:33248157 | DOI:10.1016/j.toxlet.2020.11.011