The angiogenic factor midkine is regulated by dexamethasone and retinoic acid during alveolarization and in alveolar epithelial cells

Huayan Zhang, Samuel J. Garber, Zheng Cui, Joseph P. Foley, Gopi S. Mohan, Minesh Jobanputra, Feige Kaplan, Neil B. Sweezey, Linda W. Gonzales, Rashmin C. Savani

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12 Scopus citations


Background: A precise balance exists between the actions of endogenous glucocorticoids (GC) and retinoids to promote normal lung development, in particular during alveolarization. The mechanisms controlling this balance are largely unknown, but recent evidence suggests that midkine (MK), a retinoic acid-regulated, pro-angiogenic growth factor, may function as a critical regulator. The purpose of this study was to examine regulation of MK by GC and RA during postnatal alveolar formation in rats.Methods: Newborn rats were treated with dexamethasone (DEX) and/or all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) during the first two weeks of life. Lung morphology was assessed by light microscopy and radial alveolar counts. MK mRNA and protein expression in response to different treatment were determined by Northern and Western blots. In addition, MK protein expression in cultured human alveolar type 2-like cells treated with DEX and RA was also determined.Results: Lung histology confirmed that DEX treatment inhibited and RA treatment stimulated alveolar formation, whereas concurrent administration of RA with DEX prevented the DEX effects. During normal development, MK expression was maximal during the period of alveolarization from postnatal day 5 (PN5) to PN15. DEX treatment of rat pups decreased, and RA treatment increased lung MK expression, whereas concurrent DEX+RA treatment prevented the DEX-induced decrease in MK expression. Using human alveolar type 2 (AT2)-like cells differentiated in culture, we confirmed that DEX and cAMP decreased, and RA increased MK expression.Conclusion: We conclude that MK is expressed by AT2 cells, and is differentially regulated by corticosteroid and retinoid treatment in a manner consistent with hormonal effects on alveolarization during postnatal lung development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number77
JournalRespiratory Research
StatePublished - Aug 21 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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