Host responses in tissue repair and fibrosis

Annu Rev Pathol. 2013 Jan 24;8:241-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-020712-163930. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


Myofibroblasts accumulate in the spaces between organ structures and produce extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, including collagen I. They are the primary "effector" cells in tissue remodeling and fibrosis. Previously, leukocyte progenitors termed fibrocytes and myofibroblasts generated from epithelial cells through epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were considered the primary sources of ECM-producing myofibroblasts in injured tissues. However, genetic fate mapping experiments suggest that mesenchyme-derived cells, known as resident fibroblasts, and pericytes are the primary precursors of scar-forming myofibroblasts, whereas epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and myeloid leukocytes contribute to fibrogenesis predominantly by producing key fibrogenic cytokines and by promoting cell-to-cell communication. Numerous cytokines derived from T cells, macrophages, and other myeloid cell populations are important drivers of myofibroblast differentiation. Monocyte-derived cell populations are key regulators of the fibrotic process: They act as a brake on the processes driving fibrogenesis, and they dismantle and degrade established fibrosis. We discuss the origins, modes of activation, and fate of myofibroblasts in various important fibrotic diseases and describe how manipulation of macrophage activation could help ameliorate fibrosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology*
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Myofibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Myofibroblasts / pathology*
  • Pericytes / metabolism
  • Pericytes / pathology
  • Wound Healing / physiology*