Background: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating disease characterized by the histopathological pattern of usual interstitial pneumonia and is associated with a high mortality rate. Recently, lung resident mesenchymal stem cells (LR-MSCs) have been identified as an important contributor to myofibroblast activation in pulmonary fibrosis. Macrophages are also believed to play a critical role in pulmonary fibrosis. However, the underlying connections between LR-MSCs and macrophages in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis are still elusive. Methods: In this study, we investigated the interaction between LR-MSCs and macrophages using a bleomycin-induced mouse pulmonary fibrosis model and a coculture system. Results: Here, we show that blocking pulmonary macrophage infiltration attenuated bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, as determined by flow cytometry, we discovered that the recruited macrophages in fibrotic lungs of bleomycin-treated mice were mainly M2 macrophages. In particular, we found that M2, rather than M1 macrophages, promoted myofibroblast differentiation of LR-MSCs. Moreover, we demonstrated that suppression of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway could attenuate myofibroblast differentiation of LR-MSCs induced by M2 macrophages and bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Tissue samples from IPF patients confirmed the infiltration of M2 macrophages and activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Conclusion: In summary, this study furthered our understanding of the pulmonary fibrosis pathogenesis and highlighted M2 macrophages as a critical target for treating pulmonary fibrosis.
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
- Lung resident mesenchymal stem cells (LR-MSCs)
- M2 macrophages
- Myofibroblast differentiation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology