The Expression and Activity of Cathepsins D, H and K in Asthmatic Airways

Alen Faiz*, Gavin Tjin, Louise Harkness, Markus Weckmann, Shisan Bao, Judith L. Black, Brian G G Oliver, Janette K. Burgess

*Corresponding author for this work
11 Citations (Scopus)


Tumstatin is an anti-angiogenic collagen IV α3 fragment, levels of which are reduced in the airways of asthmatics. Its reduction may be due to the degradation by extracellular matrix (ECM) proteases. Cathepsins play a role in ECM remodelling, with cathepsin D, H and K (CTSD, CTSH and CTSK) being associated with lung diseases. CTSD modulates the NC1 domains of collagen molecules including tumstatin, while CTSH and CTSK are involved in ECM degradation. The role of these cathepsins in the regulation of tumstatin in the lung has not previously been examined. We demonstrated that CTSB, D, F, H, K, L and S mRNA was expressed in the airways. Quantification of immunohistochemistry showed that there is no difference in the global expression of CTSD, CTSH and CTSK between asthmatics and non-asthmatics. CTSD and CTSK, but not CTSH had the capacity to degrade tumstatin. No difference was observed in the activity of CTSD and H in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of asthmatic and non-asthmatics, while CTSK was undetectable. This indicates that while CTSD possesses the potential to directly regulate tumstatin, and thus angiogenesis through this mechanism however, it is not likely to be involved in the dysregulation of tumstatin found in asthmatic airways.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57245
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 06.03.2013


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