Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is a central player in fibrotic disease. Clinical trials with global inhibitors of TGF-β have been disappointing, suggesting that a more targeted approach is warranted. Conversion of the latent precursor to the biologically active form of TGF-β represents a novel approach to selectively modulating TGF-β in disease, as mechanisms employed to activate latent TGF-β are typically cell, tissue, and/or disease specific. In this review, we will discuss the role of the matricellular protein, thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1), in regulation of latent TGF-β activation and the use of an antagonist of TSP-1 mediated TGF-β activation in a number of diverse fibrotic diseases. In particular, we will discuss the TSP-1/TGF-β pathway in fibrotic complications of diabetes, liver fibrosis, and in multiple myeloma. We will also discuss emerging evidence for a role for TSP-1 in arterial remodeling, biomechanical modulation of TGF-β activity, and in immune dysfunction. As TSP-1 expression is upregulated by factors induced in fibrotic disease, targeting the TSP-1/TGF-β pathway potentially represents a more selective approach to controlling TGF-β activity in disease.
Keywords: Anti-fibrotic; Diabetic nephropathy; Fibrosis; Latent TGF-β; TGF-β; Thrombospondin-1.
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