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Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Dec;162(3):560-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04257.x. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

The calpain inhibitor calpeptin prevents bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice.

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Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Hyogo College of Medicine, Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan.


Pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by progressive worsening of pulmonary function leading to a high incidence of death. Currently, however, there has been little progress in therapeutic strategies for pulmonary fibrosis. There have been several reports on cytokines being associated with lung fibrosis, including interleukin (IL)-6 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1. We reported recently that two substances (ATRA and thalidomide) have preventive effects on pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting IL-6-dependent proliferation and TGF-β1-dependent transdifferentiation of lung fibroblasts. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder, and its pathogenesis is also characterized by an association with several cytokines. It has been reported that calpain, a calcium-dependent intracellular cysteine protease, plays an important role in the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. In this study, we examined the preventive effect of Calpeptin, a calpain inhibitor, on bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. We performed histological examinations and quantitative measurements of IL-6, TGF-β1, collagen type Iα1 and angiopoietin-1 in bleomycin-treated mouse lung tissues with or without the administration of Calpeptin. Calpeptin histologically ameliorated bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice. Calpeptin decreased the expression of IL-6, TGF-β1, angiopoietin-1 and collagen type Iα1 mRNA in mouse lung tissues. In vitro studies disclosed that Calpeptin reduced (i) production of IL-6, TGF-β1, angiopoietin-1 and collagen synthesis from lung fibroblasts; and (ii) both IL-6-dependent proliferation and angiopoietin-1-dependent migration of the cells, which could be the mechanism underlying the preventive effect of Calpeptin on pulmonary fibrosis. These data suggest the clinical use of Calpeptin for the prevention of pulmonary fibrosis.

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