Insufficiency of tissue repair by pulmonary fibroblasts may contribute to the decrease in elastic fibres in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In this study, the repair function of COPD fibroblasts was assessed by examining the response to transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1. Primary pulmonary fibroblasts were cultured from lung tissue of COPD patients and smoking control subjects. Cellular proliferation was measured with Alamar Blue reduction method. Levels of tropoelastin mRNA and soluble elastin was measured using real-time RT-PCR and Fastin elastin assay respectively. The percentage of increase in proliferation and elastin production after TGF-β1 (1 ng/ml) treatment was calculated for fibroblasts from each subject. COPD fibroblasts showed slower proliferation than control fibroblasts, and a reduced response to TGF-β1 stimulation. The promotive effect of TGF-β1 on elastin synthesis in control fibroblasts was significantly diminished in fibroblasts from COPD patients. Our findings indicate that COPD lung fibroblasts have a significantly decreased response to TGF-β1 in terms of proliferation and elastin production.
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