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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Oct 26;96(22):12719-24.

In vivo inhibition of rat stellate cell activation by soluble transforming growth factor beta type II receptor: a potential new therapy for hepatic fibrosis.

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  • 1The Liver Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, and Biogen Inc., Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a well characterized cytokine that appears to play a major role in directing the cellular response to injury, driving fibrogenesis, and, thus, potentially underlying the progression of chronic injury to fibrosis. In this study, we report the use of a novel TGF-beta receptor antagonist to block fibrogenesis induced by ligation of the common bile duct in rats. The antagonist consisted of a chimeric IgG containing the extracellular portion of the TGF-beta type II receptor. This "soluble receptor" was infused at the time of injury; in some experiments it was given at 4 days after injury, as a test of its ability to reverse fibrogenesis. The latter was assessed by expression of collagen, both as the mRNA in stellate cells isolated from control or injured liver and also by quantitative histochemistry of tissue sections. When the soluble receptor was administered at the time of injury, collagen I mRNA in stellate cells from the injured liver was 26% of that from animals receiving control IgG (P < 0.0002); when soluble receptor was given after injury induction, collagen I expression was 35% of that in control stellate cells (P < 0.0001). By quantitative histochemistry, hepatic fibrosis in treated animals was 55% of that in controls. We conclude that soluble TGF-beta receptor is an effective inhibitor of experimental fibrogenesis in vivo and merits clinical evaluation as a novel agent for controlling hepatic fibrosis in chronic liver injury.

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