Get access

Effects of TGF-β and glucocorticoids on map kinase phosphorylation, IL-6/IL-11 secretion and cell proliferation in primary cultures of human lung fibroblasts


  • Girolamo Pelaia and Luca Gallelli contributed equally to the work presented in this article.


Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is crucially involved in the fibrotic events characterizing interstitial lung diseases (ILDs), as well as in the airway remodeling process typical of asthma. Within such a context, the aim of our study was to investigate, in primary cultures of normal and fibrotic human lung fibroblasts (HLFs), the effects of TGF-β1 on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation, cell proliferation, and production of interleukins 6 (IL-6) and 11 (IL-11), in the presence or absence of a pretreatment with budesonide (BUD). MAPK phosphorylation was detected by Western blotting, cell viability and proliferation were evaluated using Trypan blue staining and [3H]-thymidine incorporation assay, respectively, and the release of IL-6 and IL-11 into cell culture supernatants was assessed by ELISA. TGF-β1 (10 ng/ml) significantly stimulated MAPK phosphorylation (P < 0.01), and also enhanced cell proliferation as well as the secretion of both IL-6 and IL-11, which reached the highest increases at the 72nd h of cell exposure to this growth factor. All such effects were prevented by BUD (10−8 M) and, with the exception of IL-6 release, also by a mixture of MAPK inhibitors. Therefore, our findings suggest that the fibrotic action exerted by TGF-β1 in the lung is mediated at least in part by MAPK activation and by an increased synthesis of the profibrogenic cytokines IL-6 and IL-11; all these effects appear to be prevented by corticosteroids via inhibition of MAPK phosphorylation. J. Cell. Physiol. 210: 489–497, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.