Sustained activation of fibroblast transforming growth factor-beta/Smad signaling in a murine model of scleroderma.
ABSTRACT Transforming growth factor-beta is responsible for triggering a cascade of events leading to fibrosis in scleroderma. The Smads are intracellular signal transducers recently shown to mediate fibroblast activation and other profibrotic responses elicited by transforming growth factor-betain vitro. To understand better the involvement of Smads in the pathogenesis of fibrosis, we examined Smad expression and activation in situ in a murine model of scleroderma. Bleomycin injections induced striking dermal infiltration with macrophages by 3 d, and progressive fibrosis by 2 wk. Infiltrating macrophages and resident fibroblasts expressed Smad3, the positive mediator for transforming growth factor-beta responses. Importantly, in bleomycin-injected skin, fibroblasts showed predominantly nuclear localization of Smad3 and intense staining for phospho-Smad2/3. Furthermore, phosphorylated Smad2/3 in fibroblasts was detected even after the resolution of inflammation. Expression of Smad7, the endogenous inhibitor of transforming growth factor-beta/Smad signaling, was strongly induced in dermal cells by transforming growth factor-beta, but not by bleomycin injections. Collectively, these results indicate that bleomycin-induced murine scleroderma is associated with rapid and sustained induction of transforming growth factor-beta/Smad signaling in resident dermal fibroblasts. Despite apparent activation of the intracellular transforming growth factor-beta signaling pathway in the lesional dermis, the expression of transforming growth factor-beta-inducible Smad7 was not upregulated. In light of the critical function of Smad7 as an endogenous inhibitor of Smad signaling that restricts the duration and magnitude of transforming growth factor-beta responses, and as a mediator of apoptosis, relative Smad7 deficiency observed in the present studies may account for sustained activation of transforming growth factor-beta/Smad signaling in lesional tissues. These findings raise the possibility that Smads plays an important part in the pathogenesis of fibrosis, and may therefore represent targets for selective anti-fibrotic interventions.
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ABSTRACT: Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is the key step in liver fibrogenesis. Increased transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) expression and extracellular matrix production in patients with hepatic fibrosis and experimental models of liver fibrogenesis support implication of TGF-beta in the pathogenesis of this disease. However, a causative role for TGF-beta during transdifferentiation of HSCs has not been delineated in molecular detail. Using a rat cell culture model of HSC transdifferentiation, we analyzed TGF-beta signal transduction and identified changes between stellate cells and their transdifferentiated phenotype. Fully transdifferentiated myofibroblasts, opposed to HSCs, were not inhibited in proliferation activity on treatment with TGF-beta1. Furthermore, stimulation of alpha2 (I) collagen and Smad7 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression by TGF-beta1 was achieved in stellate cells but not in myofibroblasts. Northern and Western blot analyses indicated significant expression of TGF-beta receptors I and II in both cell types. In contrast, [(125)I]-TGF-beta1 receptor affinity labeling displayed strongly reduced types I, II, and III receptor presentation at the cell surface of myofibroblasts. Moreover, myofibroblasts did not display DNA-binding SMAD proteins in electrophoretic mobility shift assays with a CAGA box. These data indicate that stellate cells are responsive to TGF-beta1 treatment and transduce a signal that may play an important role in liver fibrogenesis. Myofibroblasts display decreased availability of surface receptors for TGF-beta, which could be based on autocrine stimulation. However, lack of activated SMAD complexes with DNA-binding activity and absence of alpha2 (I) collagen transcription inhibition by latency-associated peptide (LAP)/anti-TGF-beta antibody raise the possibility of TGF-beta signaling independent receptor down-regulation in myofibroblasts.Hepatology 06/2000; 31(5):1094-106. · 12.00 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that non-myocytes present in healed 8-week infarct scar overexpress transduction proteins required for initiating the elevated deposition of structural matrix proteins in this tissue. Other work suggests that TGF-beta 1 may be involved in cardiac fibrosis and myocyte hypertrophy. However, the significance of the altered TGF-beta signaling in heart failure in the chronic phase of post-myocardial infarction (MI), particularly in the ongoing remodeling of the infarct scar, remains unexplored. Patterns of cardiac TGF beta 1 and Smad 2, 3, and 4 protein expression were investigated 8 weeks after MI and were compared to relative collagen deposition in border tissues (containing remnent myocytes) and the infarct scar (non-myocytes). Both TGF-beta 1 mRNA abundance and protein levels were significantly increased in the infarct scar v control values, and this trend was positively correlated to increased collagen type I expression. Cardiac Smad 2, 3, and 4 proteins were significantly increased in border and scar tissues v control values. Immunofluorescent studies indicated that Smad proteins localized proximal to the cellular nuclei present in the infarct scar. Decorin mRNA abundance was elevated in border and infarct scar, and the pattern of decorin immunostaining was markedly altered in remote remnant heart and scar v staining patterns of control sections. Expression of T beta RI (53 kDa) protein was significantly reduced in the scar, while the 75 kDa and 110 kDa isoforms of T beta RII were unchanged and significantly increased in scar, respectively. These results indicate that TGF-beta/Smad signaling may be involved in the remodeling of the infarct scar after the completion of wound healing per se, via ongoing stimulation of matrix deposition.Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 04/1999; 31(3):667-78. · 5.15 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Activation of the renal transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) system likely mediates the excess production of extracellular matrix in the diabetic kidney. To establish the role of the TGF-beta system in type 2 diabetic nephropathy, we examined the intrarenal localization and expression of the TGF-beta1 isoform, the TGF-beta type II receptor, and the Smad signaling pathway in the 16-week-old db/db mouse, a genetic model of type 2 diabetes that exhibits mesangial matrix expansion, glomerular basement membrane thickening, and renal insufficiency that closely resemble the human disease. Compared with its nondiabetic db/m littermate, the db/db mouse showed significantly increased TGF-beta1 mRNA expression by in situ hybridization in both glomerular and tubular compartments. Likewise, TGF-beta1 protein, by immunohistochemical staining, was increased in both renal compartments, but the fractional expression of TGF-beta1 protein was less than that of the mRNA in the glomerulus. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical staining for the TGF-beta type II receptor revealed concordant and significant increases of both mRNA and protein in the glomerular and tubular compartments of diabetic animals. Finally, immunohistochemistry showed preferential accumulation of Smad3 in the nuclei of glomerular and tubular cells in diabetes. The complementary technique of Southwestern histochemistry using a labeled Smad-binding element demonstrated increased binding of nuclear proteins to Smad-binding element, indicating active signaling downstream of the TGF-beta stimulus. We therefore propose that the TGF-beta system is up-regulated at the ligand, receptor, and signaling levels throughout the renal cortex in this animal model of type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest that the profibrotic effects of TGF-beta may underlie the progression to glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial fibrosis that characterize diabetic nephropathy.American Journal Of Pathology 06/2001; 158(5):1653-63. · 4.52 Impact Factor