Objective: Pulmonary fibrosis is a prominent feature of chronic lung disease of prematurity (CLD). We sought to determine the influence of the potent profibrotic cytokine transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-Beta 1) on the development of CLD.
Methods: We determined the concentration of active and total TGF-Beta 1 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid obtained from 18 infants who subsequently had CLD (mean gestation, 25.7 weeks; birth weight, 816 gm) 15 (29.8 weeks, 1493 gm) who recovered from the respiratory distress syndrome, and 7 (35.1 weeks, 2441 gm) control infants.
Results: The concentration of both active and total TGF-Beta 1 was increased in the infants with CLD when compared with the respiratory distress syndrome and control groups. The increase in active and total TGF-Beta 1 was greatest on day 4 of age, when infants who eventually had CLD were compared with those who did not progress to CLD (active TGF-Beta 1, 39.5 vs 4.6 ng/ml; total TGF-Beta 1, 43.8 vs 13.8 ng/ml). In addition, immunocytochemistry studies localized pan-TGF-Beta to alveolar macrophages obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage.
Conclusions: These observations indicate that TGF-Beta 1 may contribute to the fibrotic response that is observed in the lungs of infants who have CLD.