Objectives: Fibrocytes are integral in the development of fibroproliferative disease after lung transplantation. Undifferentiated fibrocytes (CD45+anti-collagen 1+CXCR4+) preferentially traffic by way of the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis and differentiate into smooth muscle actin-producing (CD45+CXCR4+α-smooth muscle actin+) cells. We postulated that an antibody directed against CXCL12 would attenuate fibrocyte migration and fibro-obliteration of heterotopic tracheal transplant allografts. Methods: A total alloantigenic mismatch murine heterotopic tracheal transplant model of obliterative bronchiolitis was used. The mice were treated with either goat-anti-human CXCL12 F(ab′)2 or goat IgG F(ab′) 2. Buffy coat, bone marrow, and trachea allografts were collected and analyzed using flow cytometry. Tracheal luminal obliteration was assessed using hematoxylin-eosin and Direct Red 80 collagen stain. Results: Compared with the controls, the anti-CXCL12-treated mice showed a significant decrease in tracheal allograft fibrocyte populations at 7 and 21 days after transplantation. Bone marrow and buffy coat aspirates showed the same trend at 7 days. In the anti-CXCL12-treated mice, there was a 35% decrease in luminal obliteration at 21 days (65% vs 100% obliterated; interquartile range, 38% vs 10%; P = .010) and decreased luminal collagen deposition at 21 and 28 days after transplantation (P = .042 and P = .012, respectively). Conclusions: Understanding the role of fibrocytes in airway fibrosis after lung transplantation could lead to a paradigm shift in treatment strategy. Anti-CXCL12 antibody afforded protection against infiltrating fibrocytes and reduced the deterioration of the tracheal allografts. Thus, the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis is a novel target for the treatment of fibro-obliteration after lung transplantation, and the quantification of fibrocyte populations could provide clinicians with a biomarker of fibrosis, allowing individualized drug therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine