NHLRC2 and extracellular matrix proteins in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Auditorium 10 of Oulu University Hospital

Topic of the dissertation

NHLRC2 and extracellular matrix proteins in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Mervi Kreus

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Biomedicine and Internal Medicine

Subject of study



Professor Veli-Matti Kosma, University of Eastern Finland


Professor Riitta Kaarteenaho, University of Oulu, Oulu University Hospital

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NHLRC2 and extracellular matrix proteins in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic interstitial lung disease of unknown cause, in which peripheral lung tissue is replaced by scar tissue. Like lung cancer, IPF has a poor prognosis. IPF and lung cancer also share similar genetic and epigenetic alterations, and common risk factors such as smoking. Certain stromal cells, called myofibroblasts, are believed to act as principal pathogenetic cell types in both IPF and lung cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of extracellular matrix proteins and NHL repeat containing 2 (NHLRC2) in cells and tissues derived from patients with IPF and lung cancer. The comparison of IPF and lung cancer may reveal new information about the pathogenesis of these severe diseases, which may help to develop new therapies for patients.

In this study, the gene expression levels of cultured stromal cells derived from non-smoking patients with lung adenocarcinoma from the tumor and the corresponding normal control lung as well as from patients with IPF were investigated with microarray analysis. The microarray analysis revealed that twenty genes were similarly dysregulated in IPF and lung adenocarcinoma compared to control. However, most of the altered genes, including several extracellular matrix genes, were differently expressed in IPF and lung adenocarcinoma.

Additionally, the expression pattern of NHLRC2 in lung tissue samples from patients with IPF, lung adenocarcinoma and lung squamous cell carcinoma was studied by immunohistochemistry. The immunohistochemical NHLRC2 expression was compared with the clinical and histological characteristics of the patients. The expression of NHLRC2 was higher in IPF and lung cancer than in control lung. Furthermore, NHLRC2 expression was higher in adenocarcinoma than in squamous cell carcinoma. NHLRC2 expression was associated with smoking in IPF patients and with survival and mitotic activity in lung adenocarcinoma patients.

This study revealed new information of the expression of NHLRC2 and extracellular matrix proteins in IPF and lung cancer. However, further studies are needed to confirm the connections between IPF and lung cancer and to clarify the pathogenetic role of NHLRC2 in IPF and lung cancer.
Last updated: 23.1.2024