Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4 exerts antifibrotic activity by reducing levels of connective tissue growth factor and the C-X-C chemokine receptor 4.
ABSTRACT: The Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system plays an important role in variety cellular biological functions; we previously reported levels of IGF binding proteins (IGFBP) -3 and -5 are increased in dermal and pulmonary fibrosis associated with the prototypic fibrosing disease systemic sclerosis (SSc), induce extracellular matrix (ECM) production, and promote fibrosis. We sought to examine the effects of another member of the family, IGFBP-4, on ECM production and fibrosis using cell-based, ex vivo organ culture and in vivo mouse lung fibrosis models. IGFBP-4 mRNA levels were significantly decreased in pulmonary fibroblasts of patients with SSc. ECM components were significantly reduced by endogenous and exogenous IGFBP-4. IGFBP-4 also blocked TGF?-induced ECM production, and inhibited ECM production ex vivo in human lung and skin in organ culture. In vivo, IGFBP-4 reduced bleomycin-induced collagen production and histologic evidence of fibrosis. Silencing IGFBP-4 expression to mimic levels observed in SSc lung fibroblasts resulted in increased ECM production. IGFBP-4 reduced mRNA and protein levels of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and the pro-fibrotic factor CTGF. Further, CTGF silencing potentiated the anti-fibrotic effects of IGFBP-4. Reduced IGFBP-4 levels in SSc lung fibroblasts may contribute to the fibrotic phenotype via loss of IGFBP-4 anti-fibrotic activity.
Project description:Pulmonary fibrosis is a hallmark of diseases such as systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). To date, the therapeutic options for patients with pulmonary fibrosis are limited, and organ transplantation remains the most effective option. Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 5 (IGFBP-5) is a conserved member of the IGFBP family of proteins that is overexpressed in SSc and IPF. In this study, we demonstrate that both exogenous and adenovirally expressed IGFBP-5 promote fibrosis by increasing the production of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes and the expression of pro-fibrotic genes in primary human lung fibroblasts. IGFBP-5 increased expression of the pro-fibrotic growth factor CTGF and levels of the matrix crosslinking enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX). Silencing of IGFBP-5 had different effects in lung fibroblasts from normal donors and patients with SSc or IPF. Moreover, we show that IGFBP-5 increases expression of ECM genes, CTGF, and LOX in human lung tissues maintained in organ culture. Together, our data extend our previous findings and demonstrate that IGFBP-5 exerts its pro-fibrotic activity by directly inducing expression of ECM and pro-fibrotic genes. Further, IGFBP-5 promotes its own expression, generating a positive feedback loop. This suggests that IGFBP-5 likely acts in concert with other growth factors to drive fibrosis and tissue remodeling.
Project description:Pulmonary fibrosis is one of the important causes of morbidity and mortality in fibroproliferative disorders such as systemic sclerosis (SSc) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-5 (IGFBP-5) is a conserved member of the IGFBP family of proteins that is overexpressed in SSc and IPF lung tissues. In this study, we investigated the functional role of IGFBP-5 in the development of fibrosis in vivo using a transgenic model. We generated transgenic mice ubiquitously expressing human IGFBP-5 using CRISPR/Cas9 knock-in. Our data show that the heterozygous and homozygous mice are viable and express human IGFBP-5 (h<i>IGFBP-5</i>). Transgenic mice had increased expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes, especially <i>Col3a1</i>, <i>Fn,</i> and <i>Lox</i> in lung and skin tissues of mice expressing higher transgene levels. Histologic analysis of the skin tissues showed increased dermal thickness, and the lung histology showed subtle changes in the heterozygous and homozygous mice as compared with the wild-type mice. These changes were more pronounced in animals expressing higher levels of h<i>IGFBP-5</i>. Bleomycin increased ECM gene expression in wild-type mice and accentuated an increase in ECM gene expression in transgenic mice, suggesting that transgene expression exacerbated bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Primary lung fibroblasts cultured from lung tissues of homozygous transgenic mice showed significant increases in ECM gene expression and protein levels, further supporting the observation that IGFBP-5 resulted in a fibrotic phenotype in fibroblasts. In summary, transgenic mice expressing human IGFBP-5 could serve as a useful animal model for examining the function of IGFBP-5 in vivo.
Project description:Fibroblasts/myofibroblasts are the key effector cells responsible for excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and fibrosis progression in both idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and systemic sclerosis (SSc) patient lungs, thus it is critical to understand the transcriptomic and proteomic programs underlying their fibrogenic activity. We conducted the first integrative analysis of the fibrotic programming in these cells at the levels of gene and microRNA (miRNA) expression, as well as deposited ECM protein to gain insights into how fibrotic transcriptional programs culminate in aberrant ECM protein production/deposition. We identified messenger RNA (mRNA), miRNA, and deposited matrisome protein signatures for IPF and SSc fibroblasts obtained from lung transplants using next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry. SSc and IPF fibroblast transcriptional signatures were remarkably similar, with enrichment of WNT, TGF-?, and ECM genes. miRNA-seq identified differentially regulated miRNAs, including downregulation of miR-29b-3p, miR-138-5p and miR-146b-5p in disease fibroblasts and transfection of their mimics decreased expression of distinct sets of fibrotic signature genes as assessed using a Nanostring fibrosis panel. Finally, proteomic analyses uncovered a distinct "fibrotic" matrisome profile deposited by IPF and SSc fibroblasts compared to controls that highlights the dysregulated ECM production underlying their fibrogenic activities. Our comprehensive analyses of mRNA, miRNA, and matrisome proteomic profiles in IPF and SSc lung fibroblasts revealed robust fibrotic signatures at both the gene and protein expression levels and identified novel fibrogenesis-associated miRNAs whose aberrant downregulation in disease fibroblasts likely contributes to their fibrotic and ECM gene expression.
Project description:Extracellular matrix deposition and tissue scarring characterize the process of fibrosis. Transforming growth factor beta (TGF?) and Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of fibrosis in various tissues by inducing mesenchymal cell proliferation and extracellular matrix deposition. We identified Syndecan-2 (SDC2) as a gene induced by TGF? in an IGFBP-3-dependent manner. TGF? induction of SDC2 mRNA and protein required IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 independently induced production of SDC2 in primary fibroblasts. Using an ex-vivo model of human skin in organ culture expressing IGFBP-3, we demonstrate that IGFBP-3 induces SDC2 ex vivo in human tissue. We also identified Mitogen-activated protein kinase-interacting kinase (Mknk2) as a gene induced by IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 triggered Mknk2 phosphorylation resulting in its activation. Mknk2 independently induced SDC2 in human skin. Since IGFBP-3 is over-expressed in fibrotic tissues, we examined SDC2 levels in skin and lung tissues of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and lung tissues of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). SDC2 levels were increased in fibrotic dermal and lung tissues of patients with SSc and in lung tissues of patients with IPF. This is the first report describing elevated levels of SDC2 in fibrosis. Increased SDC2 expression is due, at least in part, to the activity of two pro-fibrotic factors, TGF? and IGFBP-3.
Project description:Fibroblasts are the effector cells of fibrosis characteristic of systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) and other fibrosing conditions. The excess production of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins is the hallmark of fibrosis in different organs, such as skin and lung. Experiments designed to assess the pro-fibrotic capacity of factors, their signaling pathways, and potential inhibitors of their effects that are conducted in fibroblasts have paved the way for planning clinical trials in SSc. As such, fibroblasts have proven to be valuable tools in the search for effective anti-fibrotic therapies for fibrosis. Herein we highlight the characteristics of fibroblasts, their role in the etiology of fibrosis, utility in experimental assays, and contribution to drug development and clinical trials in SSc.
Project description:Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue fibrotic disease for which there is no effective treatment. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), such as the Yiqihuoxue formula used in Shanghai TCM-integrated Hospital, has shown the efficacy of anti-fibrosis in clinical applications. This study was aiming to dissect the anti-fibrotic mechanism of Yiqihuoxue treatment for SSc.Bleomycin-induced mice and SSc dermal fibroblasts were treated with Yiqihuoxue decoction; NIH-3T3 fibroblasts were exposed to exogenous TGF-?1, and then cultured with or without Yiqihuoxue decoction. Luciferase reporter gene assay was used to determine the activity of Smad binding element (SBE). Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to examine the mRNA levels of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes. The protein levels of type I collagen, Smad3 and phosphorylated-Smad3 (p-Smad3) were detected by western blotting. Student's t-tests were used to determine the significance of the results.Bleomycin-induced mice, SSc dermal fibroblasts and TGF-?1-induced NIH/3T3 fibroblasts showed higher levels of ECM gene transcriptions and collagen production. In addition, the phosphorylation level of Smad3 and activity of SBE were significantly increased after exogenous TGF-?1 induction. Whereas, Yiqihuoxue treatment could obviously attenuate fibrosis in bleomycin-induced mice, down regulate ECM gene expressions and collagen production in SSc dermal fibroblasts and TGF-?1-induced NIH/3T3 fibroblasts. Furthermore, the aberrantly high phosphorylation level of Smad3 and activity of SBE in the TGF-?1-induced NIH/3T3 fibroblasts were also dramatically decreased by Yiqihuoxue treatment.Yiqihuoxue treatment could effectively reduce collagen production via down-regulating the phosphorylation of Smad3 and then the activity of SBE, which are involved in the TGF-? pathway and constitutively activated in the progression of SSc.
Project description:Fibrogenesis involves a pathological accumulation of activated fibroblasts and extensive matrix remodeling. Profibrotic cytokines, such as TGF-?, stimulate fibroblasts to overexpress fibrotic matrix proteins and induce further expression of profibrotic cytokines, resulting in progressive fibrosis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a profibrotic cytokine that is indicative of fibroblast activation. Epithelial cells are abundant in the normal lung, but their contribution to fibrogenesis remains poorly defined. Profibrotic cytokines may activate epithelial cells with protein expression and functions that overlap with the functions of active fibroblasts. We found that alveolar epithelial cells undergoing TGF-?-mediated mesenchymal transition in vitro were also capable of activating lung fibroblasts through production of CTGF. Alveolar epithelial cell expression of CTGF was dramatically reduced by inhibition of Rho signaling. CTGF reporter mice demonstrated increased CTGF promoter activity by lung epithelial cells acutely after bleomycin in vivo. Furthermore, mice with lung epithelial cell-specific deletion of CTGF had an attenuated fibrotic response to bleomycin. These studies provide direct evidence that epithelial cell activation initiates a cycle of fibrogenic effector cell activation during progressive fibrosis. Therapy targeted at epithelial cell production of CTGF offers a novel pathway for abrogating this progressive cycle and limiting tissue fibrosis.
Project description:Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multi-organ fibrotic disease with few treatment options. Activated fibroblasts are the key effector cells in SSc responsible for the excessive production of collagen and the development of fibrosis. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), a potent mitogen for cells of mesenchymal origin, has been implicated in the activation of SSc fibroblasts. Our aim was to examine the therapeutic potential of crenolanib, an inhibitor of PDGF receptor signaling, in cultured fibroblasts and in angiotensin II-induced skin and heart fibrosis. Crenolanib effectively inhibited proliferation and migration of SSc and healthy control fibroblasts and attenuated basal and transforming growth factor-?-induced expression of CCN2/CTGF and periostin. In contrast to healthy control fibroblasts, SSc fibroblasts proliferated in response to PDGFAA, whereas a combination of PDGFAA and CCN2 was required to elicit a similar response in healthy control fibroblasts. PDGF receptor ? mRNA correlated with CCN2 and other fibrotic markers in the skin of SSc patients. In mice challenged with angiotensin II, PDGF receptor ?-positive cells were increased in the skin and heart. These PDGF receptor ?-positive cells co-localized with PDGF receptor ?, procollagen, and periostin. Treatment with crenolanib attenuated the skin and heart fibrosis. Our data indicate that inhibition of PDGF signaling presents an attractive therapeutic approach for SSc.
Project description:Objectives: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disorder presenting fibrosis of the skin and internal organs, for which no effective treatments are currently available. Increasing evidence indicates that the P2X7 receptor (P2X7R), a nucleotide-gated ionotropic channel primarily involved in the inflammatory response, may also have a key role in the development of tissue fibrosis in different body districts. This study was aimed at investigating P2X7R expression and function in promoting a fibrogenic phenotype in dermal fibroblasts from SSc patients, also analyzing putative underlying mechanistic pathways. Methods: Fibroblasts were isolated by skin biopsy from 9 SSc patients and 8 healthy controls. P2X7R expression, and function (cytosolic free Ca2+ fluxes, ?-smooth muscle actin [?-SMA] expression, cell migration, and collagen release) were studied. Moreover, the role of cytokine (interleukin-1?, interleukin-6) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) production, and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) activation in mediating P2X7R-dependent pro-fibrotic effects in SSc fibroblasts was evaluated. Results: P2X7R expression and Ca2+ permeability induced by the selective P2X7R agonist 2'-3'-O-(4-benzoylbenzoyl)ATP (BzATP) were markedly higher in SSc than control fibroblasts. Moreover, increased ?SMA expression, cell migration, CTGF, and collagen release were observed in lipopolysaccharides-primed SSc fibroblasts after BzATP stimulation. While P2X7-induced cytokine changes did not affect collagen production, it was completely abrogated by inhibition of the ERK pathway. Conclusion: In SSc fibroblasts, P2X7R is overexpressed and its stimulation induces Ca2+-signaling activation and a fibrogenic phenotype characterized by increased migration and collagen production. These data point to the P2X7R as a potential, novel therapeutic target for controlling exaggerated collagen deposition and tissue fibrosis in patients with SSc.
Project description:Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) have been described to induce the production of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and have been reported to be increased in different fibrotic disorders. Skeletal muscle fibrosis is a common feature of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The mdx mouse diaphragm is a good model for DMD since it reproduces the muscle degenerative and fibrotic changes. Fibronectin (FN) and proteoglycans (PG) are some of the ECM proteins upregulated in dystrophic conditions. In view of understanding the fibrotic process involved in DMD we have isolated fibroblasts from dystrophic mdx diaphragms. Here we report that regardless of the absence of degenerative myofibers, adult mdx diaphragm fibroblasts show increased levels of FN and condroitin/dermatan sulfate PGs synthesis. Fibroblasts isolated from non fibrotic tissue, such as 1 week old mice diaphragms or skin, do not present elevated FN levels. Furthermore, mdx fibroblast conditioned media is able to stimulate FN synthesis in control fibroblasts. Autocrine TGF-beta signaling was unaltered in mdx cells. When control fibroblasts are exposed to TGF-beta and CTGF, FN increases as expected. Paradoxically, in mdx cells it decreases in a concentration dependent manner and this decrease is not due to a downregulation of FN synthesis. According to this data we hypothesize that a pathological environment is able to reprogram fibroblasts into an activated phenotype which can be maintained through generations.