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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Mar;163(3 Pt 1):770-7.

Transient transgene expression of decorin in the lung reduces the fibrotic response to bleomycin.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and Centre for Gene Therapeutics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic progressive disease with no effective therapy. Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is thought to be a key profibrotic mediator and blocking its activity is therefore one of the targets of new treatment strategies for fibrosis. Decorin is an endogenous proteoglycan and one of the known inhibitors of TGF-beta. The short half-life of peptide-based therapeutics makes gene transfer a promising approach to achieve prolonged protein levels in the lung. Replication-deficient adenovirus was used to deliver decorin transgene (AdDec) to the airways by a single intranasal injection in a murine bleomycin model of lung fibrosis. The ability of vector-derived decorin to inhibit TGF-beta was examined in a bioassay and its effect on bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis was determined by histomorphology and lung hydroxyproline. In vitro, supernatant from cells infected with AdDec abrogated the bioactivity of TGF-beta in a dose-dependent manner whereas control virus (AdDL70) had no effect. In vivo, treatment of bleomycin-injected mice with AdDec substantially reduced the fibrogenic response compared with control virus (hydroxyproline: bleomycin/AdDec, 1.96 microg/mg; bleomycin/AdDL70, 3.05 microg/mg; p = 0.0005). These results suggest that a single administration of AdDec was able to generate a local pulmonary environment that effectively blocked the fibrogenic response to bleomycin by inhibition of TGF-beta.

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