Glucocorticoids and TGF-β1 synergize in augmenting fibroblast mediated contraction of collagen gels

Fu Qiang Wen, C. Magnus Sköld, Xiang Der Liu, Ronald F. Ertl, Yun Kui Zhu, Tadashi Kohyama, Hangjun Wang, Stephen I. Rennard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


TGF-β plays a central role in the initiation and progression of pulmonary fibrosis. Glucocorticoids are frequently used to treat fibrotic diseases, but beneficial effects are often modest. Both TGF-β and glucocorticoids have been reported to increase fibroblast contraction of native collagen gels, a model of fibrotic tissue remodeling. Therefore, we sought to determine how glucocorticoids interact with TGF-β in this system. In this study, human fetal lung fibroblasts (HFL-1) were pretreated with or without TGF-β for 72 h before they were cast into type I collagen gels. Various concentrations of glucocorticoids (budesonide or hydrocortisone) were added at the time of casting. Gel size was then monitored at different times after gel release. The surrounding media were collected for the assay of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and the cell lysates were analyzed for cyclooxygenase (COX) expression by immunoblot. Glucocorticoids alone significantly enhanced fibroblast-mediated contraction of collagen gels (P < 0.01) and dose-dependently inhibited PGE2 release by HFL-1 fibroblasts. TGF-β significantly augmented gel contraction but also induced a 30% increase in PGE2 release and increased the expression of COX-1. Glucocorticoids inhibited TGF-β1 induced-PGE2 release, and enhanced TGF-β augmented gel contraction without significantly affecting TGF-β augmented COX-1 expression. Indomethacin, a COX inhibitor, increased TGF-β augmented gel contraction but had no further effect when added together with glucocorticoids. Thus, glucocorticoids can synergize with TGF-β in augmenting fibroblast mediated collagen gel contraction through the inhibition of PGE2 production. Such interactions between glucocorticoids and TGF-β may account, in part, for the lack of response of fibrotic diseases to glucocorticoids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-117
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Collagen gel contraction
  • Fibroblast
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prostaglandin
  • Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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