Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 423, Issue 1–2, pp 165–174 | Cite as

Basic fibroblast growth factor activates β-catenin/RhoA signaling in pulmonary fibroblasts with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in rats

  • Zhengxing GeEmail author
  • Bo Li
  • Xun Zhou
  • Yi Yang
  • Jun Zhang


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is featured by aberrant extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Trigger of the β-catenin/RhoA pathway has been involved in aberrant ECM deposition in several diseases. We investigated WNT signaling activation in primary pulmonary fibroblasts of rats with and without COPD and the function of WNT signaling in pulmonary fibroblast. We evaluated the expression of WNT signaling and the role of β-catenin, using MRC-5 fibroblasts and primary lung fibroblasts of rats with and without COPD. Lung fibroblasts highly expressed mRNA of genes associated with WNT signaling. Treatment of MRC-5 fibroblasts using basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), a composition of the mucus in COPD patients, enhanced β-catenin, Wnt5a and RhoA expression. The expression in β-catenin, Wnt5a and RhoA induced by bFGF was higher in fibroblasts of rats with COPD than without COPD, whereas the basal expression was similar. bFGF also activated transcriptionally active and increased total β-catenin protein expression. Moreover, bFGF enhanced the expression of α-sm-actin and fibronectin, which was abrogated by β-catenin, Wnt5a and RhoA-specific adenovirus siRNA. The induction of active β-catenin and then fibronectin turnover in response to bFGF were markedly increased in pulmonary fibroblasts from rat with COPD. β-Catenin/RhoA pathway results in ECM deposition in lung fibroblasts and myofibroblasts differentiation. β-catenin/RhoA signaling induced by bFGF is promoted in lung fibroblasts from rats with COPD. The study indicated a crucial role of the WNT signaling in mediating fibroblast morphology and function in COPD.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease β-Catenin Basic fibroblast growth factor MRC-5 fibroblasts 



This work was supported by grants from the Regional Fund of National Natural Science Foundation of China (ID: 81260599).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

There are no other conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhengxing Ge
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bo Li
    • 1
  • Xun Zhou
    • 1
  • Yi Yang
    • 1
  • Jun Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Guiyang College of Traditional Chinese MedicineGuiyangChina

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