Sialidase inhibitors attenuate pulmonary fibrosis in a mouse model. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fibrosis involves increasing amounts of scar tissue appearing in a tissue, but what drives this is unclear. In fibrotic lesions in human and mouse lungs, we found extensive desialylation of glycoconjugates, and upregulation of sialidases. The fibrosis-associated cytokine TGF-1 upregulates sialidases in human airway epithelium cells, lung fibroblasts, and immune system cells. Conversely, addition of sialidases to human peripheral blood mononuclear cells induces accumulation of extracellular TGF-1, forming what appears to be a sialidase - TGF-1 - sialidase positive feedback loop. Monocyte-derived cells called fibrocytes also activate fibroblasts, and we found that sialidases potentiate fibrocyte differentiation. A sialylated glycoprotein called serum amyloid P (SAP) inhibits fibrocyte differentiation, and sialidases attenuate SAP function. Injections of the sialidase inhibitors DANA and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) starting either 1day or 10 days after bleomycin strongly attenuate pulmonary fibrosis in the mouse bleomycin model, and by breaking the feedback loop, cause a downregulation of sialidase and TGF-1 accumulation. Together, these results suggest that a positive feedback loop involving sialidases potentiates fibrosis, and suggest that sialidase inhibitors could be useful for the treatment of fibrosis.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Karhadkar, T. R., Pilling, D., Cox, N., & Gomer, R. H.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Karhadkar, Tejas R||Pilling, Darrell||Cox, Nehemiah||Gomer, Richard H

publication date

  • January 2017