Trefoil factor family 3 peptide promotes human airway epithelial ciliated cell differentiation

Pierre LeSimple, Isabelle Van Seuningen, Marie Pierre Buisine, Marie Christine Copin, Margitta Hinz, Werner Hoffmann, Rodolphe Hajj, Steven L. Brody, Christelle Coraux, Edith Puchelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Human airway surface epithelium is frequently damaged by inhaled factors (viruses, bacteria, xenobiotic substances) as well as by inflammatory mediators that contribute to the shedding of surface epithelial cells. To regain its protective function, the epithelium must rapidly repair and redifferentiate. The Trefoil Factor Family (TFF) peptides are secretory products of many mucous cells. TFF3, the major TFF in the airways, is able to enhance airway epithelial cell migration, but the role of this protein in differentiation has not been defined. To identify the specific role of TFF3 in the differentiation of the human airway surface epithelium, we analyzed the temporal expression pattern of TFF3, MUC5AC, and MUC5B mucins (goblet cells) and ciliated cell markers β-tubulin (cilia) and FOXJ1 (ciliogenesis) during human airway epithelial regeneration using in vivo humanized airway xenograft and in vitro air-liquid interface (ALI) culture models. We observed that TFF3, MUC5AC, MUC5B, and ciliated cell markers were expressed in well-differentiated airway epithelium. The addition of exogenous recombinant human TFF3 to epithelial cell cultures before the initiation of differentiation resulted in no change in MUCSAC or cytokeratin 13 (CK13, basal cell marker)-positive cells, but induced an increase in the number of FOXJ1-positive cells and in the number of β-tubulin- positive ciliated cells (P < 0.05). Furthermore, this effect on ciliated cell differentiation could be reversed by specific epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGF-R) inhibition. These results indicate that TFF3 is able to induce ciliogenesis and to promote airway epithelial ciliated cell differentiation, in part through an EGF-R-dependent pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-303
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Airway epithelium
  • Ciliated cell differentiation
  • Mucins
  • TFF3


Dive into the research topics of 'Trefoil factor family 3 peptide promotes human airway epithelial ciliated cell differentiation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this