Production of fibronectin by the human alveolar macrophage: mechanism for the recruitment of fibroblasts to sites of tissue injury in interstitial lung diseases.
Because cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system are known to produce fibronectin and because alveolar macrophages are activated in many interstitial lung diseases, the present study was designed to evaluate a role for the alveolar macrophage as a source of the increased levels of fibronectin found in the lower respiratory tract in interstitial lung diseases and to determine if such fibronectin might contribute to the development of the fibrosis found in these disorders by being a chemoattractant for human lung fibroblasts. Production of fibronectin by human alveolar macrophages obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage and maintained in short-term culture in serum-free conditions was demonstrated; de novo synthesis was confirmed by the incorporation of [14C]proline. This fibronectin had a monomer molecular weight of 220,000 and was antigenically similar to plasma fibronectin. Macrophages from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis produced fibronectin at a rate 20 times higher than did normal macrophages; macrophages from patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis produced fibronectin at 10 times the normal rate. Macrophages from 6 of 10 patients with various other interstitial disorders produced fibronectin at rates greater than the rate of highest normal control. Human alveolar macrophage fibronectin was chemotactic for human lung fibroblasts, suggesting a functional role for this fibronectin in the derangement of the alveolar structures that is characteristic of these disorders.