Cytokines and pulmonary fibrosis.
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Chronically inflamed and fibrotic tissue of the respiratory tract can be shown to actively express the genes and products of a number of powerful growth and differentiating factors. The initial activation of lung inflammatory cells, including alveolar macrophages, is presumed to result in the release of early acting cytokines such as IL-1 and TNF. Subsequent activation and possible phenotype alteration of the structural cells results in release of other growth factors and accumulation of blood derived inflammatory cells. These cells, once they have entered the tissue and become further activated, may begin to release their own autocrine factors and "feed back" some of the similar signals to the tissue cells in a paracrine manner, further inducing differentiation and phenotype change. These internal tissue cell and cytokine cascades could account for the chronic nature of the inflammation. Therapeutic intervention must therefore take into account the inflammatory component as well as the nature of the cytokines and structural cells involved in the propagation of the disease.
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