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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Jun 1;171(11):1279-85. Epub 2005 Feb 25.

Imatinib as a novel antifibrotic agent in bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Molecular Therapeutics, Course of Medical Oncology, University of Tokushima School of Medicine, 3-18-15 Kuramoto-cho, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


Imatinib mesylate is a potent and specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor against c-ABL, BCR-ABL, and c-KIT, and has been demonstrated to be highly active in chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. We examined the antifibrotic effects of imatinib using a bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis model in mice because imatinib also inhibits tyrosine kinase of platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRs). Imatinib inhibited the growth of primary murine lung fibroblasts and the autophosphorylation of PDGFR-beta induced by PDGF. Administration of imatinib significantly prevented bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice, partly by reducing the number of mesenchymal cells incorporating bromodeoxyuridine. Analysis of bronchoalveolar lavage cells demonstrated that imatinib did not suppress early inflammation on Days 7 and 14 caused by bleomycin. These results suggest that imatinib has the potential to prevent pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting the proliferation of mesenchymal cells, and that imatinib might be useful for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis in humans.

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