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1046 (1-12)




Hydrochloric acid (HCl) exposure causes asthma-like conditions, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, and pulmonary fibrosis. Heat Shock Protein 90 (HSP90) is a molecular chaperone that regulates multiple cellular processes. HSP90 inhibitors are undergoing clinical trials for cancer and are also being studied in various pre-clinical settings for their anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects. Here we investigated the ability of the heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor AT13387 to prevent chronic lung injury induced by exposure to HCl in vivo and its protective role in the endothelial barrier in vitro. We instilled C57Bl/6J mice with 0.1N HCl (2 µL/g body weight, intratracheally) and after 24 h began treatment with vehicle or AT13387 (10 or 15 mg/kg, SC), administered 3×/week; we analyzed histological, functional, and molecular markers 30 days after HCl. In addition, we monitored transendothelial electrical resistance (TER) and protein expression in a monolayer of human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HLMVEC) exposed to HCl (0.02 N) and treated with vehicle or AT13387 (2 µM). HCl provoked persistent alveolar inflammation; activation of profibrotic pathways (MAPK/ERK, HSP90); increased deposition of collagen, fibronectin and elastin; histological evidence of fibrosis; and a decline in lung function reflected in a downward shift in pressure–volume curves, increased respiratory system resistance (Rrs), elastance (Ers), tissue damping (G), and hyperresponsiveness to methacholine. Treatment with 15 mg/kg AT13387 reduced alveolar inflammation, fibrosis, and NLRP3 staining; blocked activation of ERK and HSP90; and attenuated the deposition of collagen and the development of chronic lung injury and airway hyperreactivity. In vitro, AT13387 prevented HCl-induced loss of barrier function and AKT, ERK, and ROCK1 activation, and restored HSP70 and cofilin expression. The HSP90 inhibitor, AT13387, represents a promising drug candidate for chronic lung injury that can be administered subcutaneously in the field, and at low, non-toxic doses.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Original Publication Citation

Colunga Biancatelli, R. M. L., Solopov, P., Dimitropoulou, C., Gregory, B., Day, T., & Catravas, J. D. (2022). The heat shock protein 90 inhibitor, AT13387, protects the Alveolo-Capillary Barrier and prevents HCl-induced Chronic Lung Injury and Pulmonary Fibrosis. Cells, 11(6), 1-12, Article 1046.


0000-0002-1174-3876 (Colunga Biancatelli), 0000-0002-1705-027X (Solopov), 0000-0002-5098-295X (Catravas)