Collagen synthesis by normal and fibrotic human lung fibroblasts and the effect of transforming growth factor-beta

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1989 Jul;140(1):95-100. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/140.1.95.


Collagen accumulation is a major feature of pulmonary fibrosis and other fibrotic lesions. We have studied the synthesis of collagens in fibroblasts cultured from normal and fibrotic human lung specimens and evaluated how it is affected by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). Fibroblasts were obtained from normal and fibrotic adult human lungs (n = 11; normal = 6, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis = 5). They were exposed to TGF-beta and pulse-labeled with [3H]proline and [3H]glycine. Collagen production was measured as bacterial collagenase-susceptible radioactivity, and collagen mRNA levels were determined by a solution hybridization assay using labeled procollagen alpha 1[I] cDNA clone HF677 as probe. Synthesis of collagen types I, III, and V were assessed after separating them by DEAE-cellulose chromatography and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The results showed that both normal and fibrotic lung fibroblasts synthesized similar amounts of collagen. Type I was the major collagen species synthesized by both normal and fibrotic cell types, and the relative proportion of type I, III, and V collagens was similar in both cell types. TGF-beta caused a two to fourfold increase in stimulation of collagen production and collagen mRNA levels, and no differences were detected in the response of normal and fibrotic lung fibroblasts. All collagen types were stimulated by the TGF-beta. TGF-beta did not increase fibroblast proliferation and the majority of normal and fibrotic lung cells exposed to TGF-beta remained in G1 phase of the cell cycle. We conclude that fibroblasts of normal and fibrotic human synthesize similar amounts of collagens.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / biosynthesis*
  • Collagen / genetics
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Transforming Growth Factors / pharmacology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transforming Growth Factors
  • Collagen