An important feature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is airway remodelling, the molecular mechanisms of which are poorly understood. In this study, the role of fibroblast growth factors (FGF-1 and FGF-2) and their receptor, FGFR-1, was assessed in bronchial airway wall remodelling in patients with COPD (FEV1 < 75%; n = 15) and without COPD (FEV1 > 85%; n = 16). FGF-1 and FGFR-1 were immunolocalized in bronchial epithelium, airway smooth muscle (ASM), submucosal glandular epithelium, and vascular smooth muscle. Quantitative digital image analysis revealed increased cytoplasmic expression of FGF-2 in bronchial epithelium (0.35 ± 0.03 vs 0.20 ± 0.04, p < 0.008) and nuclear localization in ASM (p < 0.0001) in COPD patients compared with controls. Elevated levels of FGFR-1 in ASM (p < 0.005) and of FGF-1 (p < 0.04) and FGFR-1 (p < 0.001) in bronchial epithelium were observed. In cultured human ASM cells, FGF-1 and/or FGF-2 (10 ng/ml) induced cellular proliferation, as shown by [3H]thymidine incorporation and by cell number counts. Steady-state mRNA levels of FGFR-1 were elevated in human ASM cells treated with either FGF-1 or FGF-2. The increased bronchial expression of fibroblast growth factors and their receptor in patients with COPD, and the mitogenic response of human ASM cells to FGFs in vitro suggest a potential role for the FGF/FGFR-1 system in the remodelling of bronchial airways in COPD. Copyright

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Journal of Pathology
Department of Pathology

Kranenburg, A.R, Willems-Widyastuti, A, Mooi, W.J, Saxena, P.R, Sterk, P.J, de Boer, W.I, & Sharma, H.S. (2005). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with enhanced bronchial expression of FGF-1, FGF-2, and FGFR-1. Journal of Pathology, 206(1), 28–38. doi:10.1002/path.1748