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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 Mar 1;185(5):537-46. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201106-0965OC. Epub 2011 Nov 17.

Regulation of transforming growth factor-β1-driven lung fibrosis by galectin-3.

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  • 1MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic dysregulated response to alveolar epithelial injury with differentiation of epithelial cells and fibroblasts into matrix-secreting myofibroblasts resulting in lung scaring. The prognosis is poor and there are no effective therapies or reliable biomarkers. Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside binding lectin that is highly expressed in fibrotic tissue of diverse etiologies.

OBJECTIVES:

To examine the role of galectin-3 in pulmonary fibrosis.

METHODS:

We used genetic deletion and pharmacologic inhibition in well-characterized murine models of lung fibrosis. Further mechanistic studies were performed in vitro and on samples from patients with IPF.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:

Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β and bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis was dramatically reduced in mice deficient in galectin-3, manifest by reduced TGF-β1-induced EMT and myofibroblast activation and collagen production. Galectin-3 reduced phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of β-catenin but had no effect on Smad2/3 phosphorylation. A novel inhibitor of galectin-3, TD139, blocked TGF-β-induced β-catenin activation in vitro and in vivo and attenuated the late-stage progression of lung fibrosis after bleomycin. There was increased expression of galectin-3 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and serum from patients with stable IPF compared with nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis and controls, which rose sharply during an acute exacerbation suggesting that galectin-3 may be a marker of active fibrosis in IPF and that strategies that block galectin-3 may be effective in treating acute fibrotic exacerbations of IPF.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study identifies galectin-3 as an important regulator of lung fibrosis and provides a proof of principle for galectin-3 inhibition as a potential novel therapeutic strategy for IPF.

Comment in

PMID:
22095546
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3410728
Free PMC Article
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