Articles (12)


16 July 2024

Mitochondrial Damage and Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition as Major Triggers of the Development of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a type of interstitial pneumonia with an unknown cause that progresses gradually, primarily affecting the elderly. The presence of fibrosis has significant implications for individuals with reduced lung compliance, resulting in decreased quality of life and limited survival. Although the exact mechanism remains unclear, researchers have investigated various factors, such as senescent telomerase replication and abnormal lung stem cell differentiation, to understand the root cause. Extensive research has consistently shown that IPF is closely linked to the dysfunction of alveolar epithelial cells. Current scientific studies on IPF cover a range of aspects including oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, mitochondrial damage, and iron-induced apoptosis. By examining these mechanisms, a comprehensive model has been developed that explains the process of IPF. Oxidative stress is identified as the primary trigger, followed by mitochondrial damage as a central component, leading to the mesenchymal transformation of alveolar epithelial cells as the ultimate outcome. This model is expected to serve as a valuable reference for understanding the mechanism of IPF and guiding future drug development efforts.

Xiaoshu Guo
Yue Zhang
Yingjie Wang
Xin Pan
Cong Xia
Zhongzheng Li
Huibing Liu
Ralf  Weiskirchen
Guoying  Yu*

Meeting Report

26 June 2024

12th International Workshop on the CCN Family of Genes

Cellular Communication Network factors 1-6 (CCNs) are matricellular proteins consisting of an N-terminal secretory peptide and four multifunctional structural domains. The CCN1-6 members belonging to this family have a complex network of interacting ligands that can affect diverse signaling pathways through a multitude of mechanisms. Specifically, these proteins play crucial roles in cell proliferation, differentiation, angiogenesis, apoptosis, chondrogenesis, wound repair, and extracellular matrix (ECM) formation/remodeling. This short communication provides a brief summary of the 12th International Workshop on the CCN Family of Genes held at the Scandic Holmenkollen Park Hotel in Oslo, Norway from 20–23 June 2024.

Ralf Weiskirchen*
Håvard Attramadal
Bernard Perbal


26 February 2024

Mechanisms of Fibroblast Activation during Fibrotic Tissue Remodeling

Fibrosis can occur in almost every organ system. It can occur in single organs, such as in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), or affect multiple organs as in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Fibrotic diseases are recognized as major cause of morbidity and mortality in modern societies due to the dysfunction or loss of function of the affected organs. This dysfunction is caused by progressive deposition of extracellular matrix proteins released by activated fibroblasts. Activation of fibroblasts and differentiation into myofibroblasts is required for physiological tissue remodeling, e.g, during wound healing. Disruption of regulatory mechanisms, however, results in chronic and uncontrolled activity of fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Intensive research during the past years identified several core pathways of pathophysiological relevance, and described different fibroblast subsets based on their expression profile in fibrotic tissue. Herein, we discuss the molecular changes in fibroblasts leading to persistent activation during fibrotic tissue remodeling with a focus on lung fibrosis and SSc.

Aleix Rius  Rigau
Clara  Dees*

Meeting Report

20 February 2024

The Cellular and Metabolic Bases of Organ Fibrosis: UNIA Workshop 2023 in Baeza, Spain

Fibrosis is defined by scarring and tissue hardening caused by excess deposition of extracellular matrix components, mainly collagens. A fibrotic response can occur in any tissue of the body and is the final outcome of an unbalanced reaction to inflammation and wound healing induced by a variety of insults, including persistent infections, autoimmune reactions, allergic responses, chemical exposure, radiation, and tissue injury. The accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins replaces the living tissue and disrupts the architecture leading to organ malfunction. Fibrosis remains a major clinical and therapeutic challenge and has been estimated to account for 45% of deaths in the developed world. While major advances regarding mechanistic knowledge on the underlying cell biology alterations in fibrosis have helped to characterize the main phases and mediators involved, this knowledge has not yielded significant progress in treatment. Only recently, the metabolic features associated to fibrosis have begun to emerge. This information, likely representing only the tip of the iceberg, suggests that metabolic derangement is a key culprit in the pathophysiology of fibrogenesis. The Workshop on The Cellular and Metabolic Bases of Organ Fibrosis, International University of Andalusia, Baeza, Spain, October 8–11, 2023 aimed to discuss the current knowledge and novel perspectives on the mechanisms contributing to the development of fibrosis in different organs and tissues, with particular focus on new methodological developments in metabolomics and therapeutic strategies.

Santiago  Lamas
Katalin  Susztak
Fernando  Rodríguez-Pascual*


21 December 2023

TANGO1 Dances to Export of Procollagen from the Endoplasmic Reticulum

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to Golgi secretory pathway is an elegantly complex process whereby protein cargoes are manufactured, folded, and distributed from the ER to the cisternal layers of the Golgi stack before they are delivered to their final destinations. The export of large bulky cargoes such as procollagen and its trafficking to the Golgi is a sophisticated mechanism requiring TANGO1 (Transport ANd Golgi Organization protein 1. It is also called MIA3 (Melanoma Inhibitory Activity protein 3). TANGO1 has two prominent isoforms, TANGO1-Long and TANGO1-Short, and each isoform has specific functions. On the luminal side, TANGO1-Long has an HSP47 recruitment domain and uses this protein to collect collagen. It can also tether its paralog isoforms cTAGE5 and TALI and along with these proteins enlarges the vesicle to accommodate procollagen. Recent studies show that TANGO1-Long combines retrograde membrane flow with anterograde cargo transport. This complex mechanism is highly activated in fibrosis and promotes the excessive deposition of collagen in the tissues. The therapeutic targeting of TANGO1 may prove successful in the control of fibrotic disorders. This review focuses on TANGO1 and its complex interaction with other procollagen export factors that modulate increased vesicle size to accommodate the export of procollagen. 

Carol M.Artlett*
Lianne M.Connolly


28 November 2023

Translational Studies Reveal the Divergent Effects of Simtuzumab Targeting LOXL2 in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

The composition of extracellular matrix (ECM) is altered during pathologic scarring in damaged organs including the lung. One major change in the ECM involves the cross-linking of collagen, which promotes fibroblast to myofibroblast differentiation. We examined the role of lysyl oxidase (LOX)-like 2 in lung progenitors and fibroblasts cultured from normal or IPF lung samples and in a humanized mouse model of IPF using a monoclonal antibody (Simtuzumab). Primary lung fibroblasts from normal donor lungs and IPF lung explants were examined for expression of LOXL2. Targeting LOXL2 with Simtuzumab on normal and IPF fibroblasts was examined both in vitro and in vivo for synthetic, functional, and profibrotic properties. LOXL2 was increased at transcript and protein level in IPF compared with normal lung samples. In a dose-dependent manner, Simtuzumab enhanced differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. Inhibition of LOXL2 also enhanced fibroblast invasion and accelerated the outgrowth of fibroblasts from dissociated human lung cell preparations. Finally, preventative or delayed delivery of Simtuzumab enhanced lung fibrosis in a humanized mouse model of pulmonary fibrosis. Consistent with its failure in a Phase 2 clinical trial, Simtuzumab exhibited no therapeutic efficacy in translational in vitro and in vivo assays.

Milena S.Espindola
David M.Habiel
Ana Lucia Coelho
Tanyalak  Parimon
Peter  Chen
Amanda  Mikels-Vigdal
Cory M.Hogaboam*


17 October 2023

The Severity of Isoproterenol-Induced Myocardial Fibrosis and Related Dysfunction in Mice Is Strain-Dependent

The isoproterenol (or isoprenaline; ISO)-induced model of myocardial injury provides a non-surgical means of establishing features of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in various species, including left ventricular (LV) inflammation, cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, vascular rarefaction, fibrosis and related dysfunction. However, when established in mice, the progression and severity of the LV fibrosis that manifests in this model can be affected by the exposure time and/or dosing of ISO applied, and by strain when an equivalent exposure time and dose are administered. In this study, we measured the severity of LV fibrosis by biochemical and histological means in 129sv, C57BL/6J and FVB/N mice exposed to repeated ISO (25 mg/kg for 5 days) administration at 14-days post-injury. At the time-point studied, these strains of mice underwent a ~2-fold, ~0.7-fold and ~0.3-fold increase in LV collagen concentration, respectively, compared to their saline-injected controls; whilst 129sv and C57BL/6J mice underwent a corresponding ~7-fold and ~1-fold increase in picrosirius red-stained interstitial LV collagen deposition, respectively. C57BL/6J mice subjected to higher dosing of ISO (50 or 100 mg/kg for 5 days) underwent a ~1.4–1.6-fold increase in picrosirius red-stained interstitial LV collagen deposition and some LV systolic dysfunction at day-14 post-injury, but the fibrosis in these mice was still less severe than that measured in 129sv mice given a lower dose of ISO. These findings highlight that strain-dependent differences in ISO-induced LV fibrosis severity can impact on evaluating pathological features of DCM and the therapeutic effects of anti-fibrotic drugs/strategies in this model.

Chao  Wang
Amlan  Chakraborty
Deidree V. N.  Somanader
Michael  Nguyen
Chen  Wei
Robert E.  Widdop
Chrishan S.  Samuel*


16 September 2023

Hepatic Lysosomal Enzyme Activity in Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Background: Lysosomal enzymes are implicated in autophagy and senescence. Hepatic lysosomal enzymes have not been studied in Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC). We therefore quantified the activities of lysosomal hydrolases in liver tissue of PBC patients. Methods: We compared enzyme activities in liver tissue from PBC patients with normal livers. Alcoholic liver disease and chronic viral disease served as disease controls. Results: Cathepsin B1 was significantly increased in early PBC (225.1 ± 18.06 mean ± SD, p < 0.0001) and reduced in later stages (66.5 ± 9.7, p = 0.004, controls 130.4 ± 14.9). It was reduced in patients with extensive fibrosis such as alcoholic and viral cirrhosis (p < 0.01 and p = 0.004 respectively) but not in chronic hepatitis. Cathepsin D was increased in early PBC (39 × 103 ± 4.8 SD, p < 0.0001) and less so in later stages (20.1 × 103 ± 3.9, p = 0.05, controls 14.1 × 103 ± 2.9). It was also increased in the presence of histological necro-inflammation in hepatitis. Treatment with ursodeoxycholate (UDCA) restored the abnormal values of enzymes in PBC. Lipid hydrolases mostly paralleled the changes of Cathepsins. Sequential measurements in serum of patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis showed that cathepsin B1 gradually decreases, and esterases increase as aminotransferases improve. Conclusions: The increased activity of lysosomal enzymes in early PBC are possibly on line with increased senescence. Treatment with UDCA restores abnormal values. In chronic liver disease, Cathepsin B1 reduction is associated with fibrosis and increased cathepsin D with necro-inflammation. Abnormalities of lysosomal enzymes indicate impairment of the final stage of autophagy in chronic liver disease.

Ioannis Tsomidis
George Notas
Argyro Voumvouraki
Dimitrios Samonakis
Mairi Koulentaki
Elias Kouroumalis*


19 May 2023

Comprehensive Landscape of Matrix Metalloproteinases in the Pathogenesis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive, chronic interstitial lung disease with unknown etiology. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in fibrotic lung tissues, contributing to the initiation, progression, or resolution of chronic inflammatory disease. In present study, comprehensive changes of MMPs expressions were investigated in IPF by integrative analysis of single-cell transcriptome and bulk transcriptome data. 24 of MMPs were altered and the changes could significantly distinguish IPF from normal subjects and other lung diseases. Among them, MMP1, MMP7 and MMP19 were closely associated to lung functions, susceptibility and alveolar surface density. MMP1 and MMP7 as potential diagnostic indicators, MMP1 and MMP19 as prognostic markers in IPF could accurately predict disease progression. Devolution of MMPs at single-cell resolution, MMP19 was highly expressed in macrophages and markedly interfered with TNF signaling pathway which synchronizes fibrotic microenvironment. MMP19+ macrophages were significantly different from MMP19- macrophages in energy metabolism and immune function. The interaction of MMP19+ macrophages with hyperplastic AT2 was mediated by TNFSF12-TNFRSF12A, and further activated the TNFRSF12A receptor to affect cell glucose metabolism and mitochondrial function. In summary, MMPs has great application potential in the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of IPF.

Zhongzheng Li
Huabin Zhao
Shenghui Wang
Peishuo Yan
Hongmei Yuan
Mengxia Zhao
Ruyan Wan
Jiawei Wang
Zhao Zhu
Zhenwei Li
Juntang Yang
Yajun Li
Lan Wang*


21 March 2023

Established Hepatic Stellate Cell Lines in Hepatology Research

Hepatic stellate cells comprise a minor cell population in the liver, playing a key role in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis. In chronic liver damage, these cells undergo a transition from a quiescent to a highly proliferative phenotype with the capacity to synthesize large quantities of extracellular matrix compounds such as collagens. Because of their pivotal role in liver disease pathogenesis, this hepatic cell population has become the focus of liver research for many years. However, the isolation of these cells is time consuming and requires the trained laboratory personnel. In addition, working with primary cells requires the following of ethical and legal standards and potentially needs the approval from respective authorities. Therefore, continuous growing hepatic stellate cells have become very popular in research laboratories because they are widely available and easy to handle, and allow a continuous supply of materials, and further reduction of lab animal use in biomedical research. This communication provides some general information about immortalized hepatic stellate cell lines from mouse, rats and humans.

Ralf Weiskirchen*