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Int J Exp Pathol. 1996 Jun;77(3):99-107.

Epithelial cell-derived transforming growth factor-beta in bleomycin-induced pulmonary injury.

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School of Pathology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


We have investigated whether enhanced secretion of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) by distal respiratory epithelial cells was associated with the development of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Type 2 pneumocyte-enriched preparations of bronchioloalveolar epithelial cells from normal mouse lung tissue released latent TGF-beta when cultured in serum-free medium. TGF-beta in culture supernatants could be detected using a sensitive enzyme immunoassay which employed enzyme complex amplification as a reporter system, as well as by a radiolabelled receptor competition assay. Exposure to bleomycin and other potentially fibrogenic stimuli in vitro did not stimulate production of TGF-beta by the epithelial cells but release was enhanced by treatment of the cells with interferon-gamma. Type 2 pneumocyte-enriched cell preparations obtained following induction of a pulmonary inflammatory response by administration of intratracheal bleomycin to susceptible C57BL/6 mice did not demonstrate increased release of TGF-beta in culture. However, the concentration of TGF-beta in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluids was significantly elevated compared to controls at 1 and 2 weeks after bleomycin-induced injury in these mice. No such increase was detected in BAL fluids from BALB/c mice, which are resistant to the effects of bleomycin. These results provide no support for a pathogenetic role of alveolar epithelial cell-derived TGF-beta in bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Nevertheless, elevated levels of TGF-beta in BAL fluids may provide a marker of the progression of pulmonary injury to fibrosis.

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