Progressive pulmonary fibrosis is mediated by TGF-β isoform 1 but not TGF-β3
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Tissue repair is a well-orchestrated biological process involving numerous soluble mediators, and an imbalance between these factors may result in impaired repair and fibrosis. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta is a key profibrotic element in this process and it is thought that its three isoforms act in a similar way. Here, we report that TGF-beta3 administered to rat lungs using transient overexpression initiates profibrotic effects similar to those elicited by TGF-beta1, but causes less severe and progressive changes. The data suggest that TGF-beta3 does not lead to inhibition of matrix degradation in the same way as TGF-beta1, resulting in non-fibrotic tissue repair. Further, TGF-beta3 is able to downregulate TGF-beta1-induced gene expression, suggesting a regulatory role of TGF-beta3. TGF-beta3 overexpression results in an upregulation of Smad proteins similar to TGF-beta1, but is less efficient in inducing the ALK 5 and TGF-beta type II receptor (TbetaRII). We provide evidence that this difference may contribute to the progressive nature of TGF-beta1-induced fibrotic response, in contrast to the limited fibrosis observed following TGF-beta3 overexpression. TGF-beta3 is important in "normal wound healing", but is outbalanced by TGF-beta1 in "fibrotic wound healing" in the lung.
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