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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Dec 30;338(4):1845-52. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

KL-6, a human MUC1 mucin, promotes proliferation and survival of lung fibroblasts.

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Department of Molecular and Internal Medicine, Division of Clinical Medical Science, Programs for Applied Biomedicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.


The serum level of KL-6, a MUC1 mucin, is a clinically useful marker for various interstitial lung diseases. Previous studies demonstrated that KL-6 promotes chemotaxis of human fibroblasts. However, the pathophysiological role of KL-6 remains poorly understood. Here, we further investigate the functional aspects of KL-6 in proliferation and apoptosis of lung fibroblasts. KL-6 accelerated the proliferation and inhibited the apoptosis of all human lung fibroblasts examined. An anti-KL-6 monoclonal antibody counteracted both of these effects induced by KL-6 on human lung fibroblasts. The pro-fibroproliferative and anti-apoptotic effects of KL-6 are greater than and additive to those of the maximum effective concentrations of platelet-derived growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, and transforming growth factor-beta. These findings indicate that increased levels of KL-6 in the epithelial lining fluid may stimulate fibrotic processes in interstitial lung diseases and raise the possibility of applying an anti-KL-6 antibody to treat interstitial lung diseases.

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