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J Pathol. 2005 May;206(1):28-38.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with enhanced bronchial expression of FGF-1, FGF-2, and FGFR-1.

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Department of Pharmacology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


An important feature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is airway remodelling, the molecular mechanisms of which are poorly understood. In this study, the role of fibroblast growth factors (FGF-1 and FGF-2) and their receptor, FGFR-1, was assessed in bronchial airway wall remodelling in patients with COPD (FEV1 < 75%; n = 15) and without COPD (FEV1 > 85%; n = 16). FGF-1 and FGFR-1 were immunolocalized in bronchial epithelium, airway smooth muscle (ASM), submucosal glandular epithelium, and vascular smooth muscle. Quantitative digital image analysis revealed increased cytoplasmic expression of FGF-2 in bronchial epithelium (0.35 +/- 0.03 vs 0.20 +/- 0.04, p < 0.008) and nuclear localization in ASM (p < 0.0001) in COPD patients compared with controls. Elevated levels of FGFR-1 in ASM (p < 0.005) and of FGF-1 (p < 0.04) and FGFR-1 (p < 0.001) in bronchial epithelium were observed. In cultured human ASM cells, FGF-1 and/or FGF-2 (10 ng/ml) induced cellular proliferation, as shown by [3H]thymidine incorporation and by cell number counts. Steady-state mRNA levels of FGFR-1 were elevated in human ASM cells treated with either FGF-1 or FGF-2. The increased bronchial expression of fibroblast growth factors and their receptor in patients with COPD, and the mitogenic response of human ASM cells to FGFs in vitro suggest a potential role for the FGF/FGFR-1 system in the remodelling of bronchial airways in COPD.

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