Rapid Activation of PDGF-A and -B Expression at Sites of Lung Injury in Asbestos-exposed Rats

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The development of interstitial pulmonary fibrosis is associated with a variety of inflammatory mediators, including peptide growth factors and cytokines. In the work presented here, we have asked whether or not platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-A and -B genes and proteins are expressed in anatomic and temporal patterns consistent with this factor playing a role in the disease process. Using an established rat model of asbestos-induced fibroproliferative lung disease, we demonstrate elevated levels of PDGF-A and -B mRNAs in total lung RNA immediately after a single 5-h exposure to ˜ 1,000 fibers/ml of chrysotile asbestos. In situ hybridization revealed the PDGF-A and -B in RNAs primarily in macrophages and bronchiolar-alveolar epithelial cells at sites of initial fiber deposition and lung injury. There was clear evidence of PDGF-A and -B mRNAs in interstitial cells as well. The pattern of in situ hybridization was entirely consistent with the appearance (established by immunohistochemistry) of PDGF-A and -B proteins by 24 h post-exposure in the same cell types. Both mRNAs and proteins remained detectable at the fiber deposition sites for almost 2 wk post-exposures. These findings are consistent with our previous studies showing increased mesenchymal cell proliferation and fibroproliferative lesions that progress at the sites where PDGF-A and -B are expressed. Although it is clear that multiple growth factors are produced simultaneously at sites of initial injury, we suggest that the PDGF isoforms could be playing a central role in the disease process based upon their potent mitogenic effects upon mesenchymal cells.

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