Regression of Allograft Airway Fibrosis
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Obliterative bronchiolitis after lung transplantation is a chronic inflammatory and fibrotic condition of small airways. The fibrosis associated with obliterative bronchiolitis might be reversible. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) participate in inflammation and tissue remodeling. MMP-2 localized to myofibroblasts in post-transplant human obliterative bronchiolitis lesions and to allograft fibrosis in a rat intrapulmonary tracheal transplant model. Small numbers of infiltrating T cells were also observed within the fibrosis. To modulate inflammation and tissue remodeling, the broad-spectrum MMP inhibitor SC080 was administered after the allograft was obliterated, starting at post-transplant day 21. The allograft lumen remained obliterated after treatment. Only low-dose (2.5 mg/kg per day) SC080 significantly reduced collagen deposition, reduced the number of myofibroblasts and the infiltration of T cells in association with increased collagenolytic activity, increased MMP-2 gene expression, and decreased MMP-8, MMP-9, and MMP-13 gene expression. In in vitro experiments using cultured myofibroblasts, a relatively low concentration of SC080 increased MMP-2 activity and degradation of type I collagen. Moreover, coculture with T cells facilitated persistence of myofibroblasts, suggesting a role for T-cell infiltration in myofibroblast persistence in fibrosis. By combining low-dose SC080 with cyclosporine in vivo at post-transplant day 28, partial reversal of obliterative fibrosis was observed at day 42. Thus, modulating MMP activity might reverse established allograft airway fibrosis by regulating inflammation and tissue remodeling.
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