Pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by lung inflammation and abnormal tissue repair, resulting in the replacement of normal functional tissue with an abnormal accumulation of fibroblasts and deposition of collagen in the lung. This process involves cellular interactions via a complex cytokine-signaling mechanism and heightened collagen gene expression, ultimately resulting in its abnormal collagen deposition in the lung. Our current understanding of the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis suggests that in addition to inflammatory cells, the fibroblast and signaling events that mediate fibroblast proliferation and myofibroblasts, play important roles in the diverse processes that constitute fibrosis. Increasing knowledge of cytokine biology, cytokine-signaling and cell matrix interactions have shed some light on the genesis of pulmonary fibrosis; however, the importance of inflammation in pulmonary fibrosis remains controversial. This remains true because the inflammatory component is variable at the time of diagnosis, and the most potent anti-inflammatory drugs that have been widely used in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis do not seem to interfere with the fibrotic disease progression. Pulmonary fibrosis is a highly lethal disorder, which continues to pose major clinical challenges because an effective therapeutic regimen is yet to be determined. This review summarizes recent progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of pulmonary fibrosis, and includes a more detailed discussion of the potential points of therapeutic attack in pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, a detailed discussion is presented regarding each of the potential therapies which have emerged from the animal models of pulmonary fibrosis, and which have been developed through advances in cellular and molecular biology.
Keywords: lung fibrosis, inflammation, cytokine, pathogenesis, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-fibrotic agents, signal transduction
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