The sialidase NEU3 promotes pulmonary fibrosis in mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Sialic acid is often the distal sugar on glycoconjugates, and sialidases are enzymes that remove this sugar. In fibrotic lesions in human and mouse lungs, there is extensive desialylation of glycoconjugates, and upregulation of sialidases including the extracellular sialidase NEU3. In the bleomycin model of pulmonary fibrosis, mice lacking NEU3 (Neu3-/-) showed strongly attenuated bleomycin-induced weight loss, lung damage, inflammation, and fibrosis. This indicates that NEU3 is necessary for the full spectrum of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. METHODS: To determine if NEU3 is sufficient to induce pulmonary fibrosis, recombinant murine NEU3 and a mutated inactive recombinant murine NEU3 protein were produced. Mice were given recombinant NEU3 proteins by oropharyngeal aspiration, either alone or 10days after bleomycin challenge. Over the course of 21days, mice were assessed for weight change, and after euthanasia, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cells and lung tissue were assessed for inflammation and fibrosis. RESULTS: Aspiration of recombinant murine NEU3 caused inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs, while inactive NEU3 caused inflammation but not fibrosis. Mice were also treated with recombinant murine NEU3 starting 10days after bleomycin. In male but not female mice, recombinant murine NEU3 increased inflammation and fibrosis. Inactive NEU3 did not enhance bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that NEU3 is sufficient to induce fibrosis in the lungs, that aspiration of NEU3 has a greater effect on male mice, and that this effect is mediated by NEU3's enzymic activity.

published proceedings

  • Respir Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Pilling, D., Sahlberg, K., Karhadkar, T. R., Chen, W., & Gomer, R. H.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Pilling, Darrell||Sahlberg, Kyle||Karhadkar, Tejas R||Chen, Wensheng||Gomer, Richard H

publication date

  • January 2022