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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e28134. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028134. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

In vitro effects of pirfenidone on cardiac fibroblasts: proliferation, myofibroblast differentiation, migration and cytokine secretion.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, National Center for Cardiovascular Disease, Fuwai Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, People Republic China.


Cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) are the primary cell type responsible for cardiac fibrosis during pathological myocardial remodeling. Several studies have illustrated that pirfenidone (5-methyl-1-phenyl-2-[1H]-pyridone) attenuates cardiac fibrosis in different animal models. However, the effects of pirfenidone on cardiac fibroblast behavior have not been examined. In this study, we investigated whether pirfenidone directly modulates cardiac fibroblast behavior that is important in myocardial remodeling such as proliferation, myofibroblast differentiation, migration and cytokine secretion. Fibroblasts were isolated from neonatal rat hearts and bioassays were performed to determine the effects of pirfenidone on fibroblast function. We demonstrated that treatment of CFs with pirfenidone resulted in decreased proliferation, and attenuated fibroblast α-smooth muscle actin expression and collagen contractility. Boyden chamber assay illustrated that pirfenidone inhibited fibroblast migration ability, probably by decreasing the ratio of matrix metalloproteinase-9 to tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1. Furthermore, pirfenidone attenuated the synthesis and secretion of transforming growth factor-β1 but elevated that of interleukin-10. These direct and pleiotropic effects of pirfenidone on cardiac fibroblasts point to its potential use in the treatment of adverse myocardial remodeling.

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