Alveolar Mitochondrial Quality Control During Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Bryan D. Kraft, Elizabeth N. Pavlisko, Victor L. Roggli, Claude A. Piantadosi, Hagir B. Suliman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a leading cause of respiratory failure and death in patients in the intensive care unit. Experimentally, acute lung injury resolution depends on the repair of mitochondrial oxidant damage by the mitochondrial quality control (MQC) pathways, mitochondrial biogenesis, and mitophagy, but nothing is known about this in the human lung. In a case–control autopsy study, we compared the lungs of subjects dying of ARDS (n = 8; cases) and age-/gender-matched subjects dying of nonpulmonary causes (n = 7; controls). Slides were examined by light microscopy and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, randomly probing for co-localization of citrate synthase with markers of oxidant stress, mitochondrial DNA damage, mitophagy, and mitochondrial biogenesis. ARDS lungs showed diffuse alveolar damage with edema, hyaline membranes, and neutrophils. Compared with controls, a high degree of mitochondrial oxidant damage was seen in type 2 epithelial (AT2) cells and alveolar macrophages by 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine and malondialdehyde co-staining with citrate synthase. In ARDS, antioxidant protein heme oxygenase-1 and DNA repair enzyme N-glycosylase/DNA lyase (Ogg1) were found in alveolar macrophages but not in AT2 cells. Moreover, MAP1 light chain-3 (LC3) and serine/threonine-protein kinase (Pink1) staining were absent in AT2 cells, suggesting a mitophagy failure. Nuclear respiratory factor-1 staining was missing in the alveolar region, suggesting impaired mitochondrial biogenesis. Widespread hyperproliferation of AT2 cells in ARDS could suggest defective differentiation into type 1 cells. ARDS lungs show profuse mitochondrial oxidant DNA damage but little evidence of MQC activity in AT2 epithelium. Because these pathways are important for acute lung injury resolution, our findings support MQC as a novel pharmacologic target for ARDS resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100197
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • DNA damage
  • mitochondrial dynamics
  • mitochondrial turnover
  • mitophagy
  • oxidant stress
  • respiratory distress syndrome


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