Fibrocytes in Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Variations on the Same Theme
Fibrocytes are circulating cells that have fibroblast properties. They are produced by the bone marrow stroma, and they move from the blood to injured organs using multiple chemokine pathways. They exhibit marked functional and phenotypic plasticity in response to the local tissue microenvironment to ensure a proinflammatory or a more resolving phenotype. They can adopt immune cell properties and modulate conventional immune cell functions. Although their exact function is not always clear, they have emerged as key effector cells in several fibrotic diseases such as keloid, scleroderma, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Recent evidence suggests that fibrocytes could contribute to bronchial obstructive diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This review summarizes the reported roles of fibrocytes and their pathways into the lung in the context of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, provides an overview of the different roles played by fibrocytes, and discusses their possible contributions to these obstructive diseases.