A molecule that contributes to lung scarring may be used to predict how quickly idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) will progress, report researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.(Trujillo G et al. Sci Transl Med. 2010;2:57ra82).
IPF is a chronic lung disorder with a variable and unpredictable disease course, high mortality rate, and few treatment options. The investigators found that levels of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR-9), which recognizes microbial DNA and is also involved in promoting myofibroblast differentiation, were higher in lung tissue from patients whose disease progressed rapidly than in lung tissue from healthy individuals. They also found that when they transplanted fibroblasts from human patients into mice, mice that received fibroblasts from patients with rapidly progressing disease had more fibrosis in the lungs than did mice that received fibroblasts from patients with slowly progressing IPF— a response that was exacerbated by exposure to TLR-9–activating DNA.
Friedrich MJ. Lung Disease Progression. JAMA. 2011;305(1):28. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1899