Role of Metallothionein in Inflammatory Lung Diseases
The integration of knowledge concerning the regulation of metallothionein (MT) with research on its proposed functions is necessary to clarify how MT affects cellular processes. MT expression is induced/enhanced in various tissues by a number of physiological mediators through several response elements in the MT gene promoter. The cellular accumulation of MT depends on the availability of cellular zinc derived from the diet. MT modulates: 1) the binding and exchange/ transport of heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium, or copper under physiological conditions and cytoprotection from their toxicities, and 2) the release of gaseous mediators such as hydroxyl radicals or nitric oxide. In addition, MT reportedly affects a number of cellular processes, such as gene expression, apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation. Given the genetic approach, the apparently healthy status of MT-deficient mice argues against an essential biological role for MT; however, the molecule may be critical in cells/tissues/organs in times of stress, since MT expression is also evoked/enhanced by various stresses. In particular, because metallothionein (MT) is induced by inflammatory stress, its roles in inflammation are implied. Also, MT expression in the lung can be enhanced by inflammatory stimuli, suggesting that its expression correlates with inflammatory lung diseases. In this paper, we review the role of MT of various inflammatory conditions in the lung.
Keywords: Metallothionein, lung inflammation, lipopolysaccharide, allergen, ozone
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