Scleroderma is an autoimmune rheumatic disorder accompanied by severe fibrosis in skin and other internal organs. During scleroderma progression, resident fibroblasts undergo activation and convert to α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expressing myofibroblasts (MFBs) with increased capacity to synthesize collagens and fibrogenic components. Accordingly, MFBs are a major therapeutic target for fibrosis in scleroderma and treatment with blocking MFBs could produce anti-fibrotic effects. TLY012 is an engineered human TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) which induces selective apoptosis in transformed cells expressing its cognate death receptors (DRs). Here we report that TLY012 selectively blocks activation of dermal fibroblasts and induces DR-mediated apoptosis in α-SMA+MFBs through upregulated DR5 during its activation. In vivo, TLY012 reverses established skin fibrosis to near-normal skin architecture in mouse models of scleroderma. Thus, the TRAIL pathway plays a critical role in tissue remodeling and targeting upregulated DR5 in α-SMA+ MFBs is a viable therapy for fibrosis in scleroderma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)