Keratinocyte Growth Factor Expression by Fibroblasts in Pulmonary Fibrosis: Poor Response to Interleukin-1β

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Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) is secreted by fibroblasts and protects from pulmonary fibrosis in animal models. Interleukin (IL)-1β is the most potent inducer of KGF in fibroblasts, acting through the c-Jun pathway. We evaluated in vitro KGF production by human lung fibroblasts from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF, n = 10) and from control subjects (n = 7) at baseline and after IL-1β stimulation. Basal KGF secretion by IPF fibroblasts was similar to controls. In fibroblasts from control subjects, IL-1β increased c-Jun expression, c-Jun activation, and KGF secretion. SP600125, a specific c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor, inhibited the effect of IL-1β. By contrast, in IPF fibroblasts, IL-1β did not increase c-Jun expression and c-Jun activation, and weakly increased KGF secretion, whereas SP600125 had no effect. IL-1β similarly increased JunB expression in fibroblasts from patients with IPF and control subjects. Total JNK content was not different in either unstimulated or IL-1β-stimulated IPF and control fibroblasts. IL-1β increased phosphorylated JNK in control and IPF fibroblasts, but this increase was weaker and heterogeneous in IPF. Altogether, our results demonstrate a dysregulation of KGF secretion by IPF fibroblasts. The weak response to IL-1β is associated with a defect of c-Jun expression and activation and a defect of JNK activation.

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