Background: Severe asthma, characterized by inflammation and airway remodeling, involves fibroblast differentiation into myofibroblasts expressing α-SMA. This process leads to the production of fibronectin and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), driven by factors such as transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Furthermore, the persistent presence of myofibroblasts is associated with resistance to apoptosis and mitochondrial dysfunction. The chemokine (C-X3-C motif) ligand 1 (CX3CL1) plays a role in tissue fibrosis. However, it is currently unknown whether neutralization of CX3CL1 decreases TGF-β-induced fibroblast differentiation and mitochondrial dysfunction in normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLFs). Methods: CX3CL1/C-X3-C motif chemokine receptor 1 (CX3CR1), CX3CL1 was analyzed by immunofluorescence (IF) or immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of ovalbumin-challenged mice. CX3CL1 release was detected by ELISA. TGF-β-induced CTGF, fibronectin, and α-SMA expression were evaluated in NHLFs following neutralization of CX3CL1 (TP213) treatment for the indicated times by Western blotting or IF staining. Mitochondrion function was detected by a JC-1 assay and seahorse assay. Cell apoptosis was observed by a terminal uridine nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Results: An increase in CX3CL1 expression was observed in lung tissues from mice with ovalbumin-induced asthma by IF staining. CX3CR1 was increased in the subepithelial layer of the airway by IHC staining. Moreover, CX3CR1 small interfering (si)RNA downregulated TGF-β-induced CTGF and fibronectin expression in NHLFs. CX3CL1 induced CTGF and fibronectin expression in NHLFs. TGF-β-induced CX3CL1 secretion from NHLFs. Furthermore, TP213 decreased TGF-β-induced CTGF, fibronectin, and α-SMA expression in NHLFs. Mitochondrion-related differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were examined after CX3CL1 neutralization in TGF-β-treated NHLFs. TP213 alleviated TGF-β-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis resistance in NHLFs. CX3CL1 induced p65, IκBα, and IKKα phosphorylation in a time-dependent manner. Furthermore, CX3CL1-induced fibronectin expression and JC-1 monomer were decreased by p65 siRNA. TP213 reduced TGF-β-induced p65 and α-SMA expression in NHLFs. Conclusions: These findings suggest that neutralizing CX3CL1 attenuates lung fibroblast activation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Understanding the impacts of CX3CL1 neutralization on fibroblast mitochondrial function could contribute to the development of therapeutic strategies for managing airway remodeling in severe asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-356
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Airway fibrosis
  • Apoptosis resistance
  • CX3CL1
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Severe asthma
  • TGF-β
  • TP213

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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