BACKGROUND--Increased production of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) seems to have an important role in the pathophysiology of bleomycin induced lung fibrosis. This is attributed to the ability of TGF-beta to stimulate infiltration of inflammatory cells and promote synthesis of connective tissue, leading to collagen deposition. METHODS--The study was designed to evaluate the antifibrotic potential of TGF-beta antibody in mice treated with bleomycin, which is a model of lung fibrosis. Under methoxyflurane anaesthesia, each mouse received intratracheally either 50 microliters sterile isotonic saline or 0.125 units bleomycin in 50 microliters. Within five minutes after the instillation, mice received into the tail vein 100 microliters non-immune rabbit IgG, TGF-beta 2 antibody, or a combination of TGF-beta 2 and TGF-beta 1 antibodies at various dose regimens. Mice were killed 14 days after the instillation and their lungs processed for morphological and biochemical studies. RESULTS--Administration of 250 micrograms of TGF-beta 2 antibody after instillation of bleomycin followed by 100 micrograms on day 5 and 100 micrograms on day 9 significantly reduced the bleomycin induced increases in the accumulation of lung collagen from 445.8 (42.3) micrograms/lung to 336.7 (56.6) micrograms/lung at 14 days. Similarly, the combined treatment with 250 micrograms TGF-beta 2 antibody and 250 micrograms TGF-beta 1 antibody after bleomycin instillation followed by 100 micrograms of each antibody on day 5 also caused a significant reduction in bleomycin induced increases in lung collagen accumulation and myeloperoxidase activity at 14 days. CONCLUSIONS--These results suggest that TGF-beta has an important role in the aetiology of bleomycin induced lung fibrosis; the neutralisation of TGF-beta by systemic treatment with its antibodies offers a new mode of pharmacological intervention which may be useful in treating lung fibrosis.
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