Fibroblast apoptosis is crucial to the resolution of fibrosis. However, the mechanisms by which these cells undergo apoptosis are not well known. Because interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-11 may alter repair and remodeling processes, we hypothesized that they may play a role in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We investigated the effects of these cytokines on Fas-induced apoptosis using primary lung fibroblasts from three patients with IPF (IPF-Fb) and three subjects without lung disease (normal-Fb). IPF-Fb were resistant to Fas-induced apoptosis compared with normal-Fb (P < 0.01). Using RNase protection assays, we showed that IL-6 enhanced Fas-induced apoptosis and expression of Bax in normal-Fb, but inhibited apoptosis and induced expression of Bcl-2 in IPF-Fb. Densitometry of Western blots revealed a Bcl-2/Bax ratio 0.15 +/- 0.01 in normal-Fb compared with 12.05 +/- 1.0 in IPF-Fb. Upregulation of Bcl-2 in normal-Fb and Bax in IPF-Fb were both STAT-3-dependent. Inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase had no effect in normal-Fb, but reversed the antiapoptotic effect of IL-6 in IPF-Fb. IL-11 inhibited Fas-induced apoptosis and increased Bcl-2 expression in both normal-Fb and IPF-Fb. These results suggest that altered IL-6 signaling in IPF-Fb may enhance the resistance of these cells to apoptosis and contribute to a profibrotic effect of IL-6 in IPF.
|Journal||American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|