Requirement of tumour necrosis factor for development of silica-induced pulmonary fibrosis

Nature. 1990 Mar 15;344(6263):245-7. doi: 10.1038/344245a0.


The deposition of silica particles in the lung of man or experimental animals leads to silicosis, a disease of progressive respiratory failure caused by a fibrotic reaction. It has long been suspected that the phagocytosis of silica by pulmonary macrophages induces the secretion of fibrogenic factors. Several potentially fibrogenic cytokines released by macrophages have been identified, including interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), platelet-derived growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). Here we show that TNF plays an important part in silica-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice in that (1) a single instillation of silica leads to a marked increase in the level of lung TNF messenger RNA which lasts for greater than 70 days, while there are no obvious changes in the amounts of IL-1 alpha or TGF-beta mRNAs; and (2) silica-induced collagen deposition is almost completely prevented by anti-TNF antibody, but is significantly increased by continuous infusion of mouse recombinant TNF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / chemically induced*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Silicon Dioxide / toxicity*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Collagen