Both in vitro and in vivo irradiation are associated with induction of macrophage-derived fibroblast growth factors

S. C. Thornton, B. J. Walsh*, S. Bennett, J. M. Bobbins, E. Foulcher, G. W. Morgan, R. Penny, S. N. Breit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Fibrosis in the lung directly underlying the field of irradiation is an almost universal long term sequelae of thoracic irradiation. It is assumed to represent the consequence of direct damage to local tissues and/or vascular endothelium by ionizing radiation. This view, however, is not in keeping with our current understanding of fibrotic processes, which suggest that growth factors for fibroblasts (including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I)) and cytokines stimulating collagen synthesis (notably transforming growth factor-beta) are largely responsible for this process. Since a major source of these factors is the macrophage, present in large numbers within the lung, it appeared possible that radiation-induced fibrosis might be mediated by similar mechanisms. Therefore, a study was designed to determine, first, whether in vitro irradiation of mononuclear phagocytes could induce the release of growth factors for fibroblasts. Second, we wished to ascertain whether these same growth factors might also be secreted by bronchoalveolar cells from humans who had undergone in vivo thoracic irradiation. The results of this study indicate that irradiation of a number of different types of mononuclear phagocytes resulted in the dose-dependent synthesis and release of several growth factors for fibroblasts, including PDGF, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and IGF-I. Further, cells obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage from patients undergoing thoracic radiation spontaneously released PDGF following irradiation. These findings strongly support the contention that synthesis and release of macrophage-derived growth factors for fibroblasts (particularly PDGF and IGF-I) occur after thoracic irradiation and play a significant role in the pathogenesis of irradiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Fibroblast growth factors
  • Fibroblasts
  • Fibrosis
  • Macrophages


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