The cyclic AMP effector Epac integrates pro- and anti-fibrotic signals

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 29;105(17):6386-91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801490105. Epub 2008 Apr 23.


Scar formation occurs during the late stages of the inflammatory response but, when excessive, produces fibrosis that can lead to functional and structural damage of tissues. Here, we show that the profibrogenic agonist, transforming growth factor beta1, transcriptionally decreases expression of Exchange protein activated by cAMP 1 (Epac1) in fibroblasts/fibroblast-like cells from multiple tissues (i.e., cardiac, lung, and skin fibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells). Overexpression of Epac1 inhibits transforming growth factor beta1-induced collagen synthesis, indicating that a decrease of Epac1 expression appears to be necessary for the fibrogenic phenotype, an idea supported by evidence that Epac1 expression in cardiac fibroblasts is inhibited after myocardial infarction. Epac and protein kinase A, a second mediator of cAMP action, have opposite effects on migration but both inhibit synthesis of collagen and DNA by fibroblasts. Epac is preferentially activated by low concentrations of cAMP and stimulates migration via the small G protein Rap1 but inhibits collagen synthesis in a Rap1-independent manner. The regulation of Epac expression and activation thus appear to be critical for the integration of pro- and anti-fibrotic signals and for the regulation of fibroblast function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Collagen Type I / biosynthesis
  • Collagen Type III / biosynthesis
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Myocardial Infarction / enzymology
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology
  • Myocardium / enzymology
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / pharmacology
  • rap1 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type III
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • RAPGEF3 protein, human
  • Rapgef3 protein, rat
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • DNA
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • rap1 GTP-Binding Proteins