Protein phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) expression is reduced in dermal fibroblasts isolated from patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis, a fibrotic autoimmune disease. In support of this finding, deletion of the PTEN gene in the dermal fibroblasts of mice has been shown to result in skin fibrosis and in vivo overexpression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF; CCN2), a proadhesive matricellular protein; however, whether CCN2 is required for the fibrosis caused by loss of PTEN is unclear. This study was undertaken to investigate the role of CCN2 in fibrosis caused by reduced PTEN expression.


We generated conditional knockout mice in which PTEN was deleted in fibroblasts, either alone or in combination with CCN2. Skin samples were collected for histologic examination, immunohistochemical analysis, and collagen assay.


Loss of CCN2 resulted in resistance to the increases in collagen production and myofibroblast recruitment that are caused by loss of PTEN. CCN2 deficiency did not impair Akt phosphorylation or the increases in the intensity of proliferating cell nuclear antigen staining that were caused by loss of PTEN.


These data are consistent with the notion that CCN2 is required for particular aspects of the fibroproliferative response; therapeutic strategies blocking CCN2 may be of clinical benefit in combating fibrotic disease.