Platelet-derived growth factor signaling in the lung. From lung development and disease to clinical studies

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2015 Mar;52(3):263-84. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2014-0294TR.


Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs) and their receptors (PDGFRs) represent one of the most intensively studied families of growth factors in the last four decades. PDGF signaling plays an essential role in cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and survival. In vivo studies have documented an important role of PDGF signaling in the normal development of several organs, such as the kidney, eye, or lung. PDGF signaling is essential for the formation of intact mesenchymal cells during embryogenesis. Recently, this knowledge has been extended to a role of PDGF signaling in diseases in general, such as cancer and atherosclerosis, and more importantly in lung diseases, including pulmonary arterial hypertension, lung cancer, and lung fibrosis. In this review, we provide an up-to-date overview of PDGF signaling, including tissue- and cell-type-specific expression patterns and effects. We highlight current therapeutic approaches modifying PDGF signaling in lung diseases and summarize clinical trials in which PDGF signaling has been inhibited. In conclusion, although PDGF inhibition has been used in multiple clinical trials, we suggest that more elaborate and specific approaches for spatio-temporal control of PDGF signaling are required for developing personalized approaches involving PDGF signaling in lung disease.

Keywords: lung cancer; lung fibrosis; receptor isotype; signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung Diseases / metabolism*
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor