Myofibroblasts and lung fibrosis induced by carbon nanotube exposure
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Myofibroblasts and lung fibrosis induced by carbon nanotube exposure
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  • Alternative Title:
    Part Fibre Toxicol
  • Description:
    Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are newly developed materials with unique properties and a range of industrial and commercial applications. A rapid expansion in the production of CNT materials may increase the risk of human exposure to CNTs. Studies in rodents have shown that certain forms of CNTs are potent fibrogenic inducers in the lungs to cause interstitial, bronchial, and pleural fibrosis characterized by the excessive deposition of collagen fibers and the scarring of involved tissues. The cellular and molecular basis underlying the fibrotic response to CNT exposure remains poorly understood. Myofibroblasts are a major type of effector cells in organ fibrosis that secrete copious amounts of extracellular matrix proteins and signaling molecules to drive fibrosis. Myofibroblasts also mediate the mechano-regulation of fibrotic matrix remodeling via contraction of their stress fibers. Recent studies reveal that exposure to CNTs induces the differentiation of myofibroblasts from fibroblasts in vitro and stimulates pulmonary accumulation and activation of myofibroblasts in vivo. Moreover, mechanistic analyses provide insights into the molecular underpinnings of myofibroblast differentiation and function induced by CNTs in the lungs.In view of the apparent fibrogenic activity of CNTs and the emerging role of myofibroblasts in the development of organ fibrosis, we discuss recent findings on CNT-induced lung fibrosis with emphasis on the role of myofibroblasts in the pathologic development of lung fibrosis. Particular attention is given to the formation and activation of myofibroblasts upon CNT exposure and the possible mechanisms by which CNTs regulate the function and dynamics of myofibroblasts in the lungs. It is evident that a fundamental understanding of the myofibroblast and its function and regulation in lung fibrosis will have a major influence on the future research on the pulmonary response to nano exposure, particle and fiber-induced pneumoconiosis, and other human lung fibrosing diseases.
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