Epithelial-mesenchymal transition and its implications for fibrosis

J Clin Invest. 2003 Dec;112(12):1776-84. doi: 10.1172/JCI20530.


Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a central mechanism for diversifying the cells found in complex tissues. This dynamic process helps organize the formation of the body plan, and while EMT is well studied in the context of embryonic development, it also plays a role in the genesis of fibroblasts during organ fibrosis in adult tissues. Emerging evidence from studies of renal fibrosis suggests that more than a third of all disease-related fibroblasts originate from tubular epithelia at the site of injury. This review highlights recent advances in the process of EMT signaling in health and disease and how it may be attenuated or reversed by selective cytokines and growth factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Epithelium / physiology*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Growth Substances
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Mesoderm / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Proteome


  • Cytokines
  • Growth Substances
  • Proteome