Inverse Effects of Interleukin-6 on Apoptosis of Fibroblasts from Pulmonary Fibrosis and Normal Lungs

Y.P. Moodley, Neil Misso, A.K. Scaffidi, Mirjana Fogel-Petrovic, R.J. Mcanulty, G.J. Laurent, Philip Thompson, D.A. Knight

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141 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-498
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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