Docosahexaenoic acid enhances amphiregulin-mediated bronchial epithelial cell repair processes following organic dust exposure

Tara M. Nordgren, Art J. Heires, Kristina L. Bailey, Dawn M. Katafiasz, Myron L. Toews, Christopher S. Wichman, Debra J. Romberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Injurious dust exposures in the agricultural workplace involve the release of inflammatory mediators and activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in the respiratory epithelium. Amphiregulin (AREG), an EGFR ligand, mediates tissue repair and wound healing in the lung epithelium. Omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are also known modulators of repair and resolution of inflammatory injury. This study investigated how AREG, DHA, and EGFR modulate lung repair processes following dust-induced injury. Primary human bronchial epithelial (BEC) and BEAS-2B cells were treated with an aqueous extract of swine confinement facility dust (DE) in the presence of DHA and AREG or EGFR inhibitors. Mice were exposed to DE intranasally with or without EGFR inhibition and DHA. Using a decellularized lung scaffolding tissue repair model, BEC recolonization of human lung scaffolds was analyzed in the context of DE, DHA, and AREG treatments. Through these investigations, we identified an important role for AREG in mediating BEC repair processes. DE-induced AREG release from BEC, and DHA treatment following DE exposure, enhanced this release. Both DHA and AREG also enhanced BEC repair capacities and rescued DE-induced recellularization deficits. In vivo, DHA treatment enhanced AREG production following DE exposure, whereas EGFR inhibitor-treated mice exhibited reduced AREG in their lung homogenates. These data indicate a role for AREG in the process of tissue repair after inflammatory lung injury caused by environmental dust exposure and implicate a role for DHA in regulating AREG-mediated repair signaling in BEC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L421-L431
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Amphiregulin
  • Bronchial epithelial cells
  • Inflammation
  • Organic dust
  • Repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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