Mast cells: A pivotal role in pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by an inflammatory response that includes macrophages, neutrophils, lymphocytes, and mast cells. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether mast cells play a role in initiating pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis was induced with bleomycin in mast-cell-deficient WBB6F1-W/W(v) (MCD) mice and their congenic controls (WBB6F1-(+)/(+)). Mast cell deficiency protected against bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, but protection was reversed with the re-introduction of mast cells to the lungs of MCD mice. Two mast cell mediators were identified as fibrogenic: histamine and renin, via angiotensin (ANG II). Both human and rat lung fibroblasts express the histamine H1 and ANG II AT1 receptor subtypes and when activated, they promote proliferation, transforming growth factor β1 secretion, and collagen synthesis. Mast cells appear to be critical to pulmonary fibrosis. Therapeutic blockade of mast cell degranulation and/or histamine and ANG II receptors should attenuate pulmonary fibrosis.