Recent studies have demonstrated the evidence of the crucial role of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) in the pathogenesis of tissue fibrosis; however, its precise role has not been fully elucidated. Administration of anti-TGF-beta antibody is shown to be effective for inhibiting lung fibrosis induced by bleomycin in an experimental animal model. We have recently established a mouse model for scleroderma by repeated injections of bleomycin. In this study, we examined whether the suppression of TGF-beta leads to the improvement of dermal sclerotic lesion by using this model. We induced dermal sclerosis in C3H mice by subcutaneous injections of bleomycin (100 microg/ml) for 3 weeks, and separate groups of mice were also injected with bleomycin with either anti-TGF-beta antibody (10 microg/ml) or control normal rabbit serum for 3 weeks. Thus treated skins were harvested and analyzed for histological sclerosis, serum cytokine, and influx of mast cells and eosinophils, both of which are known to release fibrogenic cytokines or several mediators responsible for tissue fibrosis. The result showed that anti-TGF-beta antibody caused a significant reduction in cutaneous sclerosis characterized by histological features and hydroxyproline contents. Examination of tissue sections also revealed a significant suppression of influx of mast cells and eosinophils. Serum interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-6 levels determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay exhibited a significant reduction after anti-TGF-beta antibody treatment. Our results suggest that administration of an antibody against TGF-beta is useful in preventing experimental dermal sclerosis induced by bleomycin and raises a possibility of the therapeutic approach of anti-TGF-beta antibody in scleroderma.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.