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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2015 Jan;52(1):116-28. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2014-0184OC.

Fibroblast growth factor 2 is required for epithelial recovery, but not for pulmonary fibrosis, in response to bleomycin.

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Departments of 1 Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.


The pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis involves lung epithelial injury and aberrant proliferation of fibroblasts, and results in progressive pulmonary scarring and declining lung function. In vitro, fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 2 promotes myofibroblast differentiation and proliferation in cooperation with the profibrotic growth factor, transforming growth factor-β1, but the in vivo requirement for FGF2 in the development of pulmonary fibrosis is not known. The bleomycin model of lung injury and pulmonary fibrosis was applied to Fgf2 knockout (Fgf2(-/-)) and littermate control mice. Weight loss, mortality, pulmonary fibrosis, and histology were analyzed after a single intranasal dose of bleomycin. Inflammation was evaluated in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and epithelial barrier integrity was assessed by measuring BAL protein and Evans Blue dye permeability. Fgf2 is expressed in mouse and human lung epithelial and inflammatory cells, and, in response to bleomycin, Fgf2(-/-) mice have significantly increased mortality and weight loss. Analysis of BAL fluid and histology show that pulmonary fibrosis is unaltered, but Fgf2(-/-) mice fail to efficiently resolve inflammation, have increased BAL cellularity, and, importantly, deficient recovery of epithelial integrity. Fgf2(-/-) mice similarly have deficient recovery of club cell secretory protein(+) bronchial epithelium in response to naphthalene. We conclude that FGF2 is not required for bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, but rather is essential for epithelial repair and maintaining epithelial integrity after bleomycin-induced lung injury in mice. These data identify that FGF2 acts as a protective growth factor after lung epithelial injury, and call into question the role of FGF2 as a profibrotic growth factor in vivo.


alveolar epithelial repair; bleomycin; fibroblast growth factor 2; lung injury; pulmonary fibrosis

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