Thrombin-induced and proteinase-activated receptor 1 (PAR1)-mediated signaling increases ROS production, activates ERK, and promotes inflammation and fibroblast proliferation in bleomycin-induced lung injury. Stanniocalcin-1 (STC1) activates anti-oxidant pathways, inhibits inflammation and provides cytoprotection; hence, we hypothesized that STC1 will inhibit thrombin/PAR1 signaling and protect from bleomycin-induced pneumonitis. We determined thrombin level and activity, thrombin-induced PAR-1-mediated signaling, superoxide generation and lung pathology after intra-tracheal administration of bleomycin to WT and STC1 Tg mice. Lungs of bleomycin-treated WT mice display: severe pneumonitis; increased generation of superoxide; vascular leak; increased thrombin protein abundance and activity; activation of ERK; greater cytokine/chemokine release and infiltration with T-cells and macrophages. Lungs of STC1 Tg mice displayed none of the above changes. Mechanistic analysis in cultured pulmonary epithelial cells (A549) suggests that STC1 inhibits thrombin-induced and PAR1-mediated ERK activation through suppression of superoxide. In conclusion, STC1 blunts bleomycin-induced rise in thrombin protein and activity, diminishes thrombin-induced signaling through PAR1 to ERK, and inhibits bleomycin-induced pneumonitis. Moreover, our study identifies a new set of cytokines/chemokines, which play a role in the pathogenesis of bleomycin-induced lung injury. These findings broaden the array of potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of lung diseases characterized by thrombin activation, oxidant stress and inflammation.
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