TGF-β activation and lung fibrosis

Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2012 Jul;9(3):130-6. doi: 10.1513/pats.201201-003AW.


Lung fibrosis can affect the parenchyma and the airways, classically giving rise to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in the parenchyma or airway remodeling in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. TGF-β activation has been implicated in the fibrosis of both IPF and airway remodeling. However, the mechanisms of TGF-β activation appear to differ depending on the cellular and anatomical compartments, with implications on disease pathogenesis. Although it appears that epithelial cell activation of TGF-β by the αvβ6 integrin is central in IPF, mesenchymal activation of TGF-β by the αvβ5 and αvβ8 integrins appears to predominate in airway remodeling. Interestingly, the mechanism of TGF-β by the integrins αvβ6 and αvβ5 is shared, relying on cytoskeletal changes, whereas activation of TGF-β by the αvβ8 integrin is distinct, relying on proteolytic cleavage of the latency-associated peptide of TGF-β by matrix metalloproteinase 14. This article describes the mechanisms through which epithelial cells activate TGF-β by the αvβ6 integrin and mesenchymal cells activate TGF-β by the αvβ5 integrin, and highlights their roles in lung fibrosis.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Remodeling / physiology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha Chains / metabolism*
  • Integrin alphaV / metabolism
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Integrin alpha Chains
  • Integrin alphaV
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta