Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by microvascular damage, fibrosis of skin and visceral organs, and autoimmunity. Previous studies have shown that angiotensin II is involved in the synthesis of type I collagen. We investigated whether the blockade of angiotensin II receptor type I (AT1) by irbesartan reduces skin and lung fibrosis in 2 murine models of SSc.
SSc was induced by daily intradermal injection of HOCl into the backs of BALB/c mice (HOCl-induced SSc). Mice were treated daily with irbesartan by oral gavage.
Irbesartan reduced dermal thickness, collagen concentration, Smad2/3, and α-smooth muscle actin expression, as well as fibroblast proliferation and H-Ras expression in the skin of mice with HOCl-induced SSc. Mice treated with irbesartan also displayed less lung fibrosis, less inflammation, and a lower concentration of collagen in the lungs than untreated mice. Exhaled nitric oxide, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and 3-nitrotyrosine expression in the lungs were decreased following irbesartan treatment. Moreover, irbesartan reduced the number and the proliferation of splenic B and T cells and the serum levels of anti–DNA topoisomerase I autoantibodies.
Irbesartan, an AT1 antagonist, prevents fibrosis and inflammation and inhibits nitric oxide production in HOCl-induced models of systemic fibrosis. Our findings extend the indication of an AT1 antagonist to SSc patients with diffuse fibrosis, especially those with lung involvement.