Exposure to agricultural bioaerosols can lead to chronic inflammatory lung diseases. Amphiregulin (AREG) can promote the lung repair process but can also lead to fibrotic remodeling. The objective of this study was to determine the role of AREG in altering recovery from environmental dust exposure in a murine in vivo model and in vitro using cultured human and murine lung fibroblasts. C57BL/6 mice were intranasally exposed to swine confinement facility dust extract (DE) or saline daily for 1 wk or allowed to recover for 3-7 days while being treated with an AREG-neutralizing antibody or recombinant AREG. Treatment with the anti-AREG antibody prevented resolution of DE exposure-induced airway influx of total cells, neutrophils, and macrophages and increased levels of TNF-α, IL-6, and CXCL1. Neutrophils and activated macrophages (CD11c+ CD11bhi) persisted after recovery in lung tissues of anti-AREG-treated mice. In murine and human lung fibroblasts, DE induced the release of AREG and inflammatory cytokines. Fibroblast recellularization of primary human lung mesenchymal matrix scaffolds and wound closure was inhibited by DE and enhanced with recombinant AREG alone. AREG treatment rescued the DE-induced inhibitory fibroblast effects. AREG intranasal treatment for 3 days during recovery phase reduced repetitive DE-induced airway inflammatory cell influx and cytokine release. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that inhibition of AREG reduced, whereas AREG supplementation promoted, the airway inflammatory recovery response following environmental bioaerosol exposure, and AREG enhanced fibroblast function, suggesting that AREG could be targeted in agricultural workers repetitively exposed to organic dust environments to potentially prevent and/or reduce disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L180-L191
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Agriculture
  • Amphiregulin
  • Dust
  • Fibroblast
  • Inflammation
  • Lung
  • Recovery
  • Repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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