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Am J Pathol. 1995 Aug; 147(2): 352–361.
PMCID: PMC1869829

Cellular localization of transforming growth factor-beta expression in bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis.


Bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis is associated with increased lung transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) gene expression, but cellular localization of the source of this expression has not been unequivocally established. In this study, lung fibrosis was induced in rats by endotracheal bleomycin injection on day 0 and, on selected days afterwards, lungs were harvested for in situ hybridization, immunohistochemical and histochemical analyses for TGF-beta 1 mRNA and protein expression, and cell identification. The results show that control lungs express essentially no detectable TGF-beta 1 mRNA or protein in the parenchyma. Before day 3 after bleomycin treatment, scattered bronchiolar epithelial cells, mononuclear cells, and eosinophils expressed elevated levels of TGF-beta 1. Between days 3 and 14, there was a major increase in the number of eosinophils, myofibroblasts, and fibroblasts strongly expressing TGF-beta 1 mRNA and protein. TGF-beta 1-producing cells were predominantly localized within areas of injury and active fibrosis. After day 14, the intensity and number of TGF-beta 1-expressing cells significantly declined and were predominantly found in fibroblasts in fibrotic areas. The expression of TGF-beta 1 protein was generally coincident with that for mRNA with the exception of bronchiolar epithelial cells in which strong protein expression was unaccompanied by a commensurate increase in mRNA. The study demonstrates that myofibroblasts, fibroblasts, and eosinophils represent the major sources of increased lung TGF-beta 1 expression in this model of pulmonary fibrosis.

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Selected References

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