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Mucosal Immunol. 2009 Mar;2(2):103-21. doi: 10.1038/mi.2008.85. Epub 2009 Jan 7.

Pulmonary fibrosis: pathogenesis, etiology and regulation.

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Immunopathogenesis Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Pulmonary fibrosis and architectural remodeling of tissues can severely disrupt lung function, often with fatal consequences. The etiology of pulmonary fibrotic diseases is varied, with an array of triggers including allergens, chemicals, radiation and environmental particles. However, the cause of one of the most common pulmonary fibrotic conditions, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), is still unclear. This review examines common mechanisms of pulmonary wound-healing responses following lung injury, and highlights the pathogenesis of some of the most widespread pulmonary fibrotic diseases. A three phase model of wound repair is reviewed that includes; (1) injury; (2) inflammation; and (3) repair. In most pulmonary fibrotic conditions dysregulation at one or more of these phases has been reported. Chronic inflammation can lead to an imbalance in the production of chemokines, cytokines, growth factors, and disrupt cellular recruitment. These changes coupled with excessive pro-fibrotic IL-13 and/or TGFbeta1 production can turn a well-controlled healing response into a pathogenic fibrotic response. Endogenous regulatory mechanisms are discussed including novel areas of therapeutic intervention. Restoring homeostasis to these dysregulated healing responses, or simply neutralizing the key pro-fibrotic mediators may prevent or slow the progression of pulmonary fibrosis.

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