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Crit Care Med. 2003 Apr;31(4 Suppl):S258-64.

Transforming growth factor-beta: a mediator of cell regulation in acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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Service de Réanimation Médicale, Pavillon Cornil, Faculté Cochin Port-Royal, Université Paris 5, Hôpital Cochin, Paris Cedex 14, France.



To review recent advances in the use of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta in acute lung injury and to apply this knowledge to understanding the pathophysiology of this syndrome.


Published research and review articles in the English language related to the role of TGF-beta in acute lung injury.


The cytokine TGF-beta plays a critical role in the resolution of tissue injury in multiple organs, including the lung. Following injury, TGF-beta has been most thoroughly evaluated during the late phases of tissue repair, where it plays a critical role in the development of pulmonary fibrosis. In contrast, recent animal studies showed that expression levels of several TGF-beta-inducible genes were dramatically increased as early as 2 days after the induction of injury. The integrin alpha(v)beta(6) activates latent TGF-beta in the lungs. Mice lacking this integrin were completely protected from pulmonary edema in a model of bleomycin-induced acute lung injury. Pharmacologic inhibition of TGF-beta also protected wild-type mice from pulmonary edema induced by bleomycin or Escherichia coli endotoxin. Similar findings also have been reported in patients in a clinical study evaluating TGF-beta in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid during the course of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Indeed, the bronchoalveolar lavage concentrations were dramatically increased as early as 1 day after the initiation of ARDS criteria and were correlated with decreases in the Pao(2)/Fio(2) ratio, suggesting an important role for TGF-b1 in the development of ARDS in humans.


These studies suggest that TGF-beta not only participates in the late phase of acute lung injury, but also might be active early in acute lung injury and potentially could contribute to the development of pulmonary edema. Integrin-mediated local activation of TGF-beta is critical to the development of pulmonary edema in ARDS, and blocking TGF-beta or its activation could be an effective treatment for this disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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