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Avouac, J; Fürnrohr, B G; Tomcik, M; Palumbo, K; Zerr, P; Horn, A; Dees, C; Akhmetshina, A; Beyer, C; Distler, O; Schett, G; Allanore, Y; Distler, J H W (2011). Inactivation of the transcription factor STAT-4 prevents inflammation-driven fibrosis in animal models of systemic sclerosis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 63(3):800-809.

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The transcription factor STAT-4 has recently been identified as a genetic susceptibility factor in systemic sclerosis (SSc) and other autoimmune diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of STAT-4 in the development of a fibrotic phenotype in 2 different mouse models of experimental dermal fibrosis.

STAT-4-deficient (stat4(-/-) ) mice and their wild-type littermates (stat4(+/+) ) were injected with bleomycin or NaCl. Infiltrating leukocytes, T cells, B cells, and monocytes were quantified in the lesional skin of stat4(-/-) and stat4(+/+) mice. Inflammatory and profibrotic cytokines were measured in sera and lesional skin samples from stat4(-/-) and stat4(+/+) mice. The outcome of mice lacking STAT-4 was also investigated in the tight skin 1 (TSK-1) mouse model.

Stat4(-/-) mice were protected against bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis, with a reduction in dermal thickening (mean ± SEM 65 ± 3% decrease; P = 0.03), hydroxyproline content (68 ± 5% decrease; P = 0.02), and myofibroblast counts (71 ± 6% decrease; P = 0.005). Moreover, the number of infiltrating leukocytes, especially T cells, was significantly decreased in the lesional skin of stat4(-/-) mice (mean ± SEM 63 ± 5% reduction in T cell count; P = 0.02). Stat4(-/-) mice also displayed decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-2, and interferon-γ in lesional skin. Consistent with a primary role of STAT-4 in inflammation, STAT-4 deficiency did not ameliorate fibrosis in TSK-1 mice.

The results of this study demonstrate that the transcription factor STAT-4 exerts potent profibrotic effects by controlling T cell activation and proliferation and cytokine release. These findings confirm the results of genetics studies on the role of STAT-4 in the development of SSc.

Copyright © 2011 by the American College of Rheumatology.


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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Rheumatology Clinic and Institute of Physical Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Deposited On:29 Jan 2012 16:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:31
Additional Information:Comment in: Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2011 Jul;7(4):445-448
Publisher DOI:10.1002/art.30171
PubMed ID:21360510

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