University of Oulu

Siri Lehtonen, Ninni-Ingrid Nurmos, Henna M Karvonen, Elisa Lappi-Blanco, Terttu Harju, Magnus Sköld & Riitta Kaarteenaho (2021) Smoking effect on the ultrastructural properties of cultured lung myofibroblasts, Ultrastructural Pathology, 45:1, 37-48, DOI: 10.1080/01913123.2020.1858214

Smoking effect on the ultrastructural properties of cultured lung myofibroblasts

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Author: Lehtonen, Siri1; Nurmos, Ninni-Ingrid2; Karvonen, Henna M.2;
Organizations: 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, PEDEGO Research Unit and Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Research Unit of Internal Medicine and Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Pathology, Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Respiratory Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine Solna and Centre for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institutet and Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-19


This study aimed at an ultrastructural characterization of myofibroblasts cultured from different compartments of lung from never-smokers and smokers with or without COPD. In addition, we evaluated the expression of alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), a marker for myofibroblasts, and contractile properties. Stromal cells cultured from central and corresponding peripheral or only from peripheral lung of never-smokers, smokers without COPD and COPD patients were analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), immunoelectron microscopy (IEM), Western analysis and/or by collagen gel contraction assay. TEM revealed that myofibroblasts cultured from smokers and COPD had less prominent intracellular actin filaments. We also examined fibronexus (FNX), which is a typical ultrastructural feature of myofibroblasts, and observed that patients with COPD more frequently had tandem-like FNX as compared to other samples. Western analysis showed that the samples derived from the central lung of never-smokers expressed higher levels of α-SMA than those of smokers and COPD patients. Cells from central lung were less contractile than those from peripheral lung. We conclude that myofibroblasts have variable ultrastructural and functional properties based on their localization in the lung and, moreover, these properties are affected by both smoking history and COPD.

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Series: Ultrastructural pathology
ISSN: 0191-3123
ISSN-E: 1521-0758
ISSN-L: 0191-3123
Volume: 45
Issue: 1
Pages: 37 - 48
DOI: 10.1080/01913123.2020.1858214
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: This study was supported by Foundation of the Finnish Anti-Tuberculosis Association, the Jalmari and Rauha Ahokas Foundation, the Väinö and Laina Kivi Foundation, the Research Foundation of the Pulmonary Diseases, a state subsidy of the Oulu University Hospital, Academy of Finland, the Health Care Foundation of North Finland and the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.