Pirfenidone inhibits myofibroblast differentiation and lung fibrosis development during insufficient mitophagy.Respir Res. 2017 06 02; 18(1):114.RR
Pirfenidone (PFD) is an anti-fibrotic agent used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), but its precise mechanism of action remains elusive. Accumulation of profibrotic myofibroblasts is a crucial process for fibrotic remodeling in IPF. Recent findings show participation of autophagy/mitophagy, part of the lysosomal degradation machinery, in IPF pathogenesis. Mitophagy has been implicated in myofibroblast differentiation through regulating mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) activation. In this study, the effect of PFD on autophagy/mitophagy activation in lung fibroblasts (LF) was evaluated, specifically the anti-fibrotic property of PFD for modulation of myofibroblast differentiation during insufficient mitophagy.
Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)-induced or ATG5, ATG7, and PARK2 knockdown-mediated myofibroblast differentiation in LF were used for in vitro models. The anti-fibrotic role of PFD was examined in a bleomycin (BLM)-induced lung fibrosis model using PARK2 knockout (KO) mice.
We found that PFD induced autophagy/mitophagy activation via enhanced PARK2 expression, which was partly involved in the inhibition of myofibroblast differentiation in the presence of TGF-β. PFD inhibited the myofibroblast differentiation induced by PARK2 knockdown by reducing mitochondrial ROS and PDGFR-PI3K-Akt activation. BLM-treated PARK2 KO mice demonstrated augmentation of lung fibrosis and oxidative modifications compared to those of BLM-treated wild type mice, which were efficiently attenuated by PFD.
These results suggest that PFD induces PARK2-mediated mitophagy and also inhibits lung fibrosis development in the setting of insufficient mitophagy, which may at least partly explain the anti-fibrotic mechanisms of PFD for IPF treatment.