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-β1 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-β1, forming what appears to be a sialidase - TGF-β1 - 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 1 day 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-β1 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.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

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

citation count

  • 21

publication date

  • November 2017