Objective: We have recently shown a significant reduction in cytokine-induced transcription of type I collagen and fibronectin in systemic sclerosis (SSc) skin fibroblasts upon treatment with trichostatin A (TSA). Moreover, in a mouse model of fibrosis, TSA prevented the dermal accumulation of extracellular matrix. The purpose of this study was to analyze the silencing of histone deacetylase 7 (HDAC-7) as a possible mechanism by which TSA exerts its antifibrotic function.
Methods: Skin fibroblasts from patients with SSc were treated with TSA and/or transforming growth factor beta. Expression of HDACs 1-11, extracellular matrix proteins, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) was analyzed by real-time polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and the Sircol collagen assay. HDAC-7 was silenced using small interfering RNA.
Results: SSc fibroblasts did not show a specific pattern of expression of HDACs. TSA significantly inhibited the expression of HDAC-7, whereas HDAC-3 was up-regulated. Silencing of HDAC-7 decreased the constitutive and cytokine-induced production of type I and type III collagen, but not fibronectin, as TSA had done. Most interestingly, TSA induced the expression of CTGF and ICAM-1, while silencing of HDAC-7 had no effect on their expression.
Conclusion: Silencing of HDAC-7 appears to be not only as effective as TSA, but also a more specific target for the treatment of SSc, because it does not up-regulate the expression of profibrotic molecules such as ICAM-1 and CTGF. This observation may lead to the development of more specific and less toxic targeted therapies for SSc.