Pantoea agglomerans is gram-negative bacteria widely distributed in nature. It predominates in inhalable dust from grain, herbs, and flax, and was identified as the most important cause of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) in eastern Poland. To better understand the molecular mechanism of HP development studies focused on the interactions between P. agglomerans and alveolar epithelial cells as well as lung tissue with particular emphasis on the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The studies were conducted on human normal lung epithelial NL20 cells and mice strain C57BL/6J. Cells and mice underwent chronic exposure to saline extract of P. agglomerans (SE-PA). Morphological changes were evaluated under light microscopy, the concentration of fibrosis markers was examined by the ELISA method, while the expression of genes involved in EMT was evaluated by RealTime PCR. During incubation with SE-PA epithelial cells underwent conversion and assumed fibroblast phenotype characterized by a decrease in epithelial cells markers (CDH1, CLDN1, JUP) and increase in mesenchymal cells markers (FN1, VIM, CDH2). Mice lungs collected after 14 days of SE-PA treatment revealed inflammation with marked lymphocytes infiltration. The intensified inflammatory process accompanied by increased proliferation of fibrous connective tissue was noted in mice lungs after 28 days of SE-PA exposure. Histological changes correlated with an increase of fibrosis markers (hydroxyproline, collagens), downregulation of epithelial markers (Cdh1, Cldn1, Jup, Ocln) and upregulation of myofibroblasts markers (Acta2, Cdh2, Fn1, Vim). Obtained results revealed SE-PA ability to induce EMT in human lung epithelial cells and mice lung tissue, with the scale of changes proportional to the time of treatment.
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