The Receptor for Hyaluronan-Mediated Motility (CD168) promotes inflammation and fibrosis after acute lung injury

Zheng Cui, Jie Liao, Naeun Cheong, Christopher Longoria, Gaoyuan Cao, Horace M. DeLisser, Rashmin C. Savani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Acute lung injury results in early inflammation and respiratory distress, and later fibrosis. The glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan (HA) and the Receptor for Hyaluronan-Mediated Motility (RHAMM, CD168) have been implicated in the response to acute lung injury. We hypothesized that, compared to wild type (WT) mice, RHAMM knockout (KO) mice would be protected from, whereas mice with macrophage-specific transgenic overexpression of RHAMM (TG) would have worse inflammation, respiratory distress and fibrosis after intratracheal (IT) bleomycin. Compared to WT mice, 10 days after IT bleomycin, RHAMM KO mice had less weight loss, less increase in respiratory rate, and fewer CD45+ cells in the lung. At day 28, compared to injured WT animals, injured RHAMM KO mice had lower M1 macrophage content, as well as decreased fibrosis as determined by trichrome staining, Ashcroft scores and lung HPO content. Four lines of transgenic mice with selective overexpression of RHAMM in macrophages were generated using the Scavenger Receptor A promoter driving a myc-tagged full length RHAMM cDNA. Baseline expression of RHAMM and CD44 was the same in WT and TG mice. By flow cytometry, TG bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) had increased cell surface RHAMM and myc, but equal CD44 expression. TG BMDM also had 2-fold increases in both chemotaxis to HA and proliferation in fetal bovine serum. In TG mice, increased inflammation after thioglycollate-induced peritonitis was restricted to macrophages and not neutrophils. For lung injury studies, non-transgenic mice given bleomycin had respiratory distress with increased respiratory rates from day 7 to 21. However, TG mice had higher respiratory rates from 4 days after bleomycin and continued to increase respiratory rates up to day 21. At 21 days after IT bleomycin, TG mice had increased lung macrophage accumulation. Lavage HA concentrations were 6-fold higher in injured WT mice, but 30-fold higher in injured TG mice. At 21 days after IT bleomycin, WT mice had developed fibrosis, but TG mice showed exaggerated fibrosis with increased Ashcroft scores and HPO content. We conclude that RHAMM is a critical component of the inflammatory response, respiratory distress and fibrosis after acute lung injury. We speculate that RHAMM is a potential therapeutic target to limit the consequences of acute lung injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-271
Number of pages17
JournalMatrix Biology
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Acute lung injury
  • Fibrosis
  • Hyaluronan
  • Inflammation
  • Knockout
  • Transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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