Research highlight

Fighting fibrosis

Nature Medicine

August 24, 2009

A potential new target for drugs aiming to treat lung fibrosis is reported in this week's Nature Medicine.

NADPH oxidases (NOX)are enzymes that catalyze the production of?free radicals.The free radicals may have beneficial effects, such as fighting pathogens, or deleterious consequences, such as triggering cell death.

Victor Thannickal and his colleagues report a role for one type of NOX called NOX-4 in lung fibrosis. They found that NOX-4 is necessary for the generation of hydrogen peroxide, which triggers myofibroblast differentiation and extracellular matrix production, both hallmarks of fibrosis. NOX-4 is up-regulated in the lungs of patients with lung fibrosis. Moreover, genetic and pharmacologic targeting of NOX-4 prevented fibrosis in two mouse models of this disease.

These findings support a role for NOX-4 in tissue fibrosis and provide a starting point for therapeutic targeting of NOX-4 in lung fibrosis, a disease for which there is no available treatment.

doi: 10.1038/nm.2005

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