In normal lung, intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) is expressed at high levels on thin type I alveolar epithelial cells, but is minimally expressed on cuboidal type II cells. ICAM-1 is induced in primary culture on tissue culture-treated plastic as type II cells undergo transition toward a type I cell-like phenotype. We hypothesized that alveolar epithelial cell expression of ICAM-1 might be regulated in part by signals that influence the state of differentiation of these cells. We found that rat type II cells that were cultured as aggregates of cuboidal cells on a hydrated basement membrane gel (Matrigel) or on floating type I collagen gels, expressed markedly less ICAM-1 protein and mRNA compared with cells that had spread on plastic. In contrast, type II cells that had spread as monolayers on dishes coated with basement membrane proteins in planar configuration demonstrated ICAM-1 expression comparable to that of cells on plastic alone. Thus regulation of alveolar epithelial cell expression of this immunologically important adhesion molecule involves complex spatial interactions of the cells with the basement membrane and other epithelial cells.
- Copyright © 1994 the American Physiological Society