Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), a multifunctional cytokine and growth factor, plays a key role in scarring and fibrotic processes because of its ability to induce extracellular matrix proteins and modulate the growth and immune function of many cell types. These effects are important in inflammatory disorders with fibrosis and cancer. The asbestos-related diseases are characterized by fibrosis in the lower respiratory tract and pleura and increased occurrence of lung cancer and mesothelioma. We performed immunohistochemistry with isoform-specific antibodies to the three TGF-beta isoforms on 16 autopsy lungs from Quebec, Canada, asbestos miners and millers. There was increased immunolocalization of all three TGF-beta isoforms in the fibrotic lesions of asbestosis and pleural fibrosis. The hyperplastic type II pneumocytes contained all three isoforms. By contrast, there was differential spatial immunostaining for the TGF-beta isoforms in malignant mesothelioma, with TGF-beta 1 in the stroma but TGF-beta 2 in the tumor cells. These data are consistent with an important role for TGF-beta in accumulation of extracellular matrix and cell proliferation in asbestos-related diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis