University of Oulu

Merikallio H, Pincikova T, Kotortsi I, Karimi R, Li C-X, Forsslund H, Mikko M, Nyrén S, Lappi-Blanco E, Wheelock ÅM, et al. Mucins 3A and 3B Are Expressed in the Epithelium of Human Large Airway. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2023; 24(17):13546.

Mucins 3A and 3B are expressed in the epithelium of human large airway

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Author: Merikallio, Heta1,2; Pincikova, Terezia3,4; Kotortsi, Ioanna3,5;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Biomedicine and Internal Medicine, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
2Center of Internal Medicine and Respiratory Medicine, Medical Research Center Oulu, University Hospital of Oulu, 90220 Oulu, Finland
3Respiratory Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine Solna, Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
4Stockholm CF-Center, Albatross, K56, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, 141 86 Stockholm, Sweden
5Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, Karolinska University Hospital, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
6Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Division of Radiology, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital Solna, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden
7Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, Department of Pathology, University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu University, 90220 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-11


Aberrant mucus secretion is a hallmark of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Expression of the membrane-tethered mucins 3A and 3B (MUC3A, MUC3B) in human lung is largely unknown. In this observational cross-sectional study, we recruited subjects 45–65 years old from the general population of Stockholm, Sweden, during the years 2007–2011. Bronchial mucosal biopsies, bronchial brushings, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were retrieved from COPD patients (n = 38), healthy never-smokers (n = 40), and smokers with normal lung function (n = 40). Protein expression of MUC3A and MUC3B in bronchial mucosal biopsies was assessed by immunohistochemical staining. In a subgroup of subjects (n = 28), MUC3A and MUC3B mRNAs were quantified in bronchial brushings using microarray. Non-parametric tests were used to perform correlation and group comparison analyses. A value of p %lt; 0.05 was considered statistically significant. MUC3A and MUC3B immunohistochemical expression was localized to ciliated cells. MUC3B was also expressed in basal cells. MUC3A and MUC3B immunohistochemical expression was equal in all study groups but subjects with emphysema had higher MUC3A expression, compared to those without emphysema. Smokers had higher mRNA levels of MUC3A and MUC3B than non-smokers. MUC3A and MUC3B mRNA were higher in male subjects and correlated negatively with expiratory air flows. MUC3B mRNA correlated positively with total cell concentration and macrophage percentage, and negatively with CD4/CD8 T cell ratio in BALF. We concluded that MUC3A and MUC3B in large airways may be a marker of disease or may play a role in the pathophysiology of airway obstruction.

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Series: International journal of molecular sciences
ISSN: 1661-6596
ISSN-E: 1422-0067
ISSN-L: 1661-6596
Volume: 24
Issue: 17
Article number: 13546
DOI: 10.3390/ijms241713546
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: This work was supported by grants from the Jalmari and Rauha Ahokas Foundation, the Research Foundation of the Pulmonary Diseases, the Finnish Anti-Tuberculosis Association, a state subsidy of Oulu University Hospital, the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation (MCS 20160418, 20180235, 20190320) and King Gustaf V’s and Queen Victoria’s Freemasons’ Foundation (MCS 2010, 2012, 2014), Karolinska Institutet, The Swedish Research Council (2018-00520), and through the Regional Agreement on Medical Training and Clinical Research (ALF) between Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet (MCS 20170393, 20200287). Chuan-Xing Li is the recipient of an ERS-EU RESPIRE2 MCF [7214]-2013.
Copyright information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (