Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Online ISSN : 1347-5215
Print ISSN : 0918-6158
ISSN-L : 0918-6158
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Role of Nrf2 in Methotrexate-Induced Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition in Alveolar A549 Cells
Masashi Kawami Mikito HondaTakuya HaraRyoko YumotoMikihisa Takano
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2022 Volume 45 Issue 8 Pages 1069-1076


Methotrexate (MTX) is known to induce serious lung diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis. Although we demonstrated that MTX is associated with epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), an oxidative stress response regulator, is related to EMT induction. In the present study, we examined the association of Nrf2 with the MTX-induced EMT in the alveolar epithelial cell line A549. MTX treatment decreased the mRNA expression of heme oxidase-1 (HO-1), a target of Nrf2, which was inhibited by co-treatment with diethyl maleate (DEM), an Nrf2 activator. Additionally, the MTX-induced increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was significantly suppressed by DEM. Furthermore, DEM decreased mRNA/protein expression levels of α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), a representative EMT marker, which were upregulated by MTX. Nuclear expression and localization of Nrf2 were suppressed by MTX treatment, which led to a decrease in Nrf2 activity. Finally, in Nrf2 knockdown cells, the MTX-induced enhancement of α-SMA mRNA/protein expression was not observed, indicating that downregulation of Nrf2 may play a critical role in the MTX-induced EMT in A549 cells. These results suggest that Nrf2-regulated transcriptional activity would be associated with the MTX-induced EMT induction.

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