Pathologic conditions and in the presence of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β)


Despite extensive investigation, the cause of IPF remains unknown.The fibrosis in IPF has been linked to cigarette smoking, environmental factors (e.g. occupational exposure to gases, smoke, chemicals or dusts), other medical conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or to genetic predisposition (familial IPF). However, none of these is present in all people with IPF and therefore do not provide a completely satisfactory explanation for the disease. IPF is believed to be the result of an aberrant wound healing process including/involving abnormal and excessive deposition of collagen (fibrosis) in the pulmonary with minimal associated inflammation.

It is hypothesized that the initial or repetitive injury in IPF occurs to the lung cells, called alveolar epithelial cells (AECs, pneumocytes), which line the majority of the alveolar surface. When type I AECs are damaged or lost, it is thought that type II AECs undergo proliferation to cover the exposed basement membranes. In normal repair, the hyperplastic type II AECs die and the remaining cells spread and undergo a differentiation process to become type I AECs. Under pathologic conditions and in the presence of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), fibroblasts accumulate in these areas of damage and differentiate into the secrete collagen and other proteins. In the past, it was thought that inflammation was the first event in initiating lung tissue scarring. Later findings showed that the development of fibroblastic foci precedes the accumulation of inflammatory cells and the consequent deposition of collagen. This pathogenetic model is indirectly supported by the clinical features of IPF, including an insidious onset over several years, relatively infrequent acute exacerbations, and failure to respond to immunosuppressive therapy. A number of therapies that target fibroblast activation or the synthesis of extracellular matrix are currently in early testing or are being considered for development.

With Kind Regards,
Mark Orwell
Managing Editor
Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutic Research.