Fibroblast Specific Expression of AC6 Enhances ß-Adrenergic and Prostacyclin Signaling and Blunts Bleomycin-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis

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Pulmonary fibroblasts regulate extracellular matrix production and degradation and are critical in maintenance of lung structure, function, and repair, but they also play a central role in lung fibrosis. cAMP-elevating agents inhibit cytokine- and growth factor-stimulated myofibroblast differentiation and collagen synthesis in pulmonary fibroblasts. In the present study, we overexpressed adenylyl cyclase 6 (AC6) in pulmonary fibroblasts and measured cAMP production and collagen synthesis. AC6 overexpression enhanced cAMP production and the inhibition of collagen synthesis mediated by isoproterenol and beraprost, but not the responses to butaprost or PGE2. To examine if increased AC6 expression would impact the development of fibrosis in an animal model, we generated transgenic mice that overexpress AC6 under a fibroblast-specific promoter, FTS1. Lung fibrosis was induced in FTS1-AC6+/− mice and littermate controls by intratracheal instillation of saline or bleomycin. Wild-type mice treated with bleomycin showed extensive peribronchial and interstitial fibrosis and collagen deposition. By contrast, FTS1-AC6+/− mice displayed decreased fibrotic development, lymphocyte infiltration (as determined by pathological scoring), and lung collagen content. Thus, AC6 overexpression inhibits fibrogenesis in the lung by reducing pulmonary fibroblast-mediated collagen synthesis and myofibroblast differentiation. Because AC6 overexpression does not lead to enhanced basal or PGE2-stimulated levels of cAMP, we conclude that endogenous catecholamines or prostacyclin is produced during bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis and that these signals have antifibrotic potential.


This article was originally published in American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, volume 298, issue 6, in 2010. DOI: 10.1152/ajplung.00429.2009


American Physiological Society