Circulating peripheral blood fibrocytes in human fibrotic interstitial lung disease

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Feb 2;353(1):104-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.11.149. Epub 2006 Dec 11.


Fibrotic interstitial lung diseases are illnesses of unknown cause characterized by progressive decline in lung function. Fibrocytes are bone marrow-derived, circulating progenitor cells capable of differentiating into diverse mesenchymal cell types. Prior work has shown fibrocytes to traffic to the lung via the CXCL12-CXCR4 chemokine axis in an animal model of pulmonary fibrosis. We therefore assessed the relevance of fibrocytes in patients with fibrotic interstitial lung disease. We found enhanced expression of CXCL12 in both the lungs and plasma of patients with lung fibrosis. CXCL12 levels were associated with an order of magnitude higher number of circulating fibrocytes in the peripheral blood of these patients. Most of the circulating fibrocytes in patients with interstitial lung diseases were negative for the myofibroblast marker alpha-smooth muscle actin, suggesting a relatively undifferentiated phenotype. Taken together, these data suggest that fibrocytes are involved in the pathogenesis of human lung fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Cells / metabolism*
  • Blood Cells / pathology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC / blood*
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / blood*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / blood*


  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Receptors, CXCR4