Therapeutic pro-fibrogenic signaling pathways in fibroblasts
Myofibroblasts (MFs) play a critical role in the progression of chronic inflammatory and fibroproliferative diseases in different tissues/organs, whatever the etiology. Fibrosis is preceded and sustained by persistent injury and inflammatory response in a profibrogenic scenario involving mutual interactions, operated by several mediators and pathways, of MFs and related precursor cells with innate immunity cells and virtually any cell type in a defined tissue. These interactions, mediators and related signaling pathways are critical in initiating and perpetuating the differentiation of precursor cells into MFs that in different tissues share peculiar traits and phenotypic responses, including the ability to proliferate, produce ECM components, migrate and contribute to the modulation of inflammatory response and tissue angiogenesis. Literature studies related to liver, lung and kidney fibrosis have outlined a number of MF-related core regulatory fibrogenic signaling pathways conserved across these different organs and potentially targetable in order to develop effective antifibrotic therapeutic strategies.