Idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIPs) are a collection of pulmonary fibrotic diseases of unknown etiopathogenesis. CC chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) is expressed in IIP biopsies and primary fibroblast lines, but its role in pulmonary fibrosis was not previously examined. To study the in vivo role of CCR7 in a novel model of pulmonary fibrosis, 1.0 x 10(6) primary fibroblasts grown from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis/usual interstitial pneumonia, nonspecific interstitial pneumonia, or histologically normal biopsies were injected intravenously into C.B-17 severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)/beige (bg) mice. At days 35 and 63 after idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis/usual interstitial pneumonia fibroblast injection, patchy interstitial fibrosis and increased hydroxyproline were present in the lungs of immunodeficient mice. Adoptively transferred nonspecific interstitial pneumonia fibroblasts caused a more diffuse interstitial fibrosis and increased hydroxyproline levels at both times, but injected normal human fibroblasts did not induce interstitial remodeling changes in C.B-17SCID/bg mice. Systemic therapeutic immunoneutralization of either human CCR7 or CC ligand 21, its ligand, significantly attenuated the pulmonary fibrosis in groups of C.B-17SCID/bg mice that received either type of IIP fibroblasts. Thus, the present study demonstrates that pulmonary fibrosis is initiated by the intravenous introduction of primary human fibroblast lines into immunodeficient mice, and this fibrotic response is dependent on the interaction between CC ligand 21 and CCR7.