Therapeutic Targets in the Treatment of Allograft Fibrosis



The dramatic improvements in short-term graft survival and acute rejection rates could only have been dreamed of 20 years ago. Late graft loss following kidney transplantation is now the critical issue of this decade. Frequently, graft loss is associated with the development of tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis within the kidney (i.e. chronic allograft nephropathy; CAN). Major treatment strategies in this disorder are non-specific and the focus of intervention has been on limiting injurious events. Following graft injury is a fibrogenesis phase featuring both proliferative and infiltrative responses mediated by chemokines, cytokines and growth factors. In particular, TGFβ has been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic injury and epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) may be part of this process. The cascade of events results in matrix accumulation, due to either increased production and/or reduced degradation of matrix. Recent investigations into the pathogenesis of tissue fibrosis have suggested a number of new strategies to ameliorate matrix synthesis. While the majority of therapies have focused on TGFβ, this may not be an ideal maneuver in transplant settings and alternative targets identified in other fibrotic diseases will be discussed. Attacking graft fibrosis should be a new focus in organ transplantation.