[Truncated abstract] Fibrosis is a feature of many pulmonary conditions, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which is characterised by the accumulation of fibroblasts/myofibroblasts and excessive deposition of collagen. IPF is a disease of unknown aetiology that is unresponsive to current therapy and is typically fatal. The inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 is elevated in patients with IPF and recent studies have shown that IL-6-induced signalling is altered in lung fibroblasts from patients with IPF. IL-6 belongs to the gp130 cytokine family, which is a group of ten structurally related cytokines, that all require the membrane bound glycoprotein gp130 to activate intracellular signalling pathways. Gp130 activates intracellular signalling through the Shp2-ERK1/2 and STAT1/3 pathways to mediate cellular activities. This thesis tests the hypothesis that gp130-mediated signalling is dysregulated in the development and progression of pulmonary fibrosis. To address this hypothesis, I assessed the role of gp130-mediated signalling in a mouse model of bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. This thesis utilised two novel gp130 mutant mice strains with directed and enhanced gp130-mediated Shp2-ERK1/2 (gp130ΔSTAT/ΔSTAT) or STAT1/3 (gp130757F/757F) signalling. I observed complete protection from fibrosis in gp130ΔSTAT/ΔSTAT mice up to 60 days after bleomycin treatment and profound fibrosis in gp130757F/757F mice compared to wt controls. The enhanced fibrosis observed in gp130757F/757F mice was diminished by monoallelic deletion of STAT3 (gp130757F/757F;STAT3+/-), identifying gp130-STAT3 signalling as a novel promoter of lung fibrosis. ... In addition, IL-6/11 activation of gp130-mediated signalling modulated transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-induced effects on adult fibroblast proliferation and myofibroblast differentiation. Interaction between IL-6/11 and TGF-β1 on fibroblast proliferation was dependent on both the gp130-ERK1/2 and gp130-STAT1/3 pathways. Loss of either pathway abrogated the effects of IL-6 and IL-11 on TGF-β1- 4 induced fibroblast proliferation. However, it was clear that gp130-STAT3 signalling inhibited TGF-β1-induced myofibroblast differentiation of primary lung fibroblasts. The inhibition of myofibroblast differentiation was associated with gp130-STAT3 dependent inhibition of TGF-β1-induced Smad3 phosphorylation. These results indicate that IL-6 and IL-11 promote myofibroblastic differentiation of lung fibroblasts, while gp130-STAT3 signalling inhibits TGF-β1-induced Smad3 phosphorylation and myofibroblastic differentiation of lung fibroblasts While the pathogenesis of IPF is unknown, it is believed that excessive collagen deposition, aberrant fibroblast behaviour and an inflammatory response are critical to the progression of this disease. It has been shown here that IL-6 family cytokines mediate the development and progression of bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis by increasing collagen synthesis, fibroblast proliferation, myofibroblast differentiation and inflammation through gp130-STAT3 signalling. This thesis has demonstrated that differential activation of cytoplasmic signalling pathways by a membrane bound receptor can have a profound effect on pulmonary responses to injury. Furthermore, this thesis is the first study to identify the gp130-STAT3 pathway as a therapeutic target in the treatment of IPF.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2008|