Progressive fibrotic diseases involving diverse organ systems are associated with the persistence of fibroblasts/myofibroblasts in injured tissues. Activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) by transforming growth factor-β1 mediate stable induction of myofibroblast differentiation and survival. In this report, we demonstrate that transforming growth factor-β1-induced activation of both PKB/Akt and FAK are dose dependency inhibited by the protein kinase inhibitor, AG1879, in cultured human lung flbroblasts. In a murine model of intratracheal bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis, regions of active fibrogenesis demonstrate elevated expression of PKB/Akt and FAK phosphorylation in vivo, effects that are attenuated in mice receiving daily intraperitoneal infections of AG1879 (bleomycin-AG1879) versus a chemically inactive analog (bleomycin-control). PKB/Akt and FAK phosphorylation are elevated in fibroblasts isolated from lungs of bleomycin-injured mice, effects that are inhibited in bleomycin-AG1879 mice. Accumulation of α-smooth muscle actin-expressing myofibroblasts is markedly reduced in lungs of bleomycin-AG1879 mice. The numbers of recruited inflammatory cells were not significantly different between these groups. Bleomycin-AG1879 mice are protected from lung flbrosis as evidenced by histopathology, trichrome staining, and biochemical analysis for collagen. Thus, targeting of prosurvival signaling pathways in fibroblasts/myofibroblasts may provide a novel and effective strategy for anti-fibrotic therapy of treatment-unresponsive fibrotic disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine