Simple gene signature to assess murine fibroblast polarization

Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 11;12(1):11748. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-15640-6.


We provide an original multi-stage approach identifying a gene signature to assess murine fibroblast polarization. Prototypic polarizations (inflammatory/fibrotic) were induced by seeded mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) with TNFα or TGFß1, respectively. The transcriptomic and proteomic profiles were obtained by RNA microarray and LC-MS/MS. Gene Ontology and pathways analysis were performed among the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and proteins (DEPs). Balb/c mice underwent daily intradermal injections of HOCl (or PBS) as an experimental murine model of inflammation-mediated fibrosis in a time-dependent manner. As results, 1456 and 2215 DEGs, and 289 and 233 DEPs were respectively found in MEFs in response to TNFα or TGFß1, respectively. Among the most significant pathways, we combined 26 representative genes to encompass the proinflammatory and profibrotic polarizations of fibroblasts. Based on principal component analysis, this signature deciphered baseline state, proinflammatory polarization, and profibrotic polarization as accurately as RNA microarray and LC-MS/MS did. Then, we assessed the gene signature on dermal fibroblasts isolated from the experimental murine model. We observed a proinflammatory polarization at day 7, and a mixture of a proinflammatory and profibrotic polarizations at day 42 in line with histological findings. Our approach provides a small-size and convenient gene signature to assess murine fibroblast polarization.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibroblasts* / metabolism
  • Fibrosis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Proteomics
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha* / metabolism


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • RNA