Transforming growth factor-beta expression in mucosal biopsies in asthma and chronic bronchitis

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Aug;156(2 Pt 1):591-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.156.2.9609066.


We assessed whether transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), a fibrogenic growth factor, may be involved in remodeling of asthma and chronic bronchitis; its expression was compared with that of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in bronchial mucosal biopsies from 13 normal subjects, 24 asthmatics, and 19 patients with chronic bronchitis. TGF-beta immunoreactivity was highly increased in epithelium and submucosa of those with bronchitis and to a lesser extent in asthmatics. By comparison, with normal subjects, EGF immunoreactivity was significantly increased in the epithelium of bronchitic subjects and submucosa of asthmatics, and, GM-CSF immunoreactivity was increased in both epithelial and submucosal cells of asthmatics and to a lesser extent in submucosa of bronchitics. A significant correlation was found between the number of epithelial or submucosal cells expressing TGF-beta in both asthma and chronic bronchitis and basement membrane thickness and fibroblast number. No such correlation was found for EGF or GM-CSF. in situ hybridization for TGF-beta 1 mRNA confirmed the results obtained by immunohistochemistry. By combining in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, it was found that eosinophils and fibroblasts were synthetizing TGF-beta in asthma and bronchitis. These data suggest that TGF-beta, but not EGF or GM-CSF, is involved in airways remodeling in asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Biopsy
  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Bronchitis / metabolism
  • Bronchitis / pathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor