The Journal of surgical research

Tanshinone IIA ameliorates bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis and inhibits transforming growth factor-beta-β-dependent epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

PMID 25911951


Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of alveolar epithelial cells occurs in lung fibrotic diseases. Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) has been reported to exert anti-inflammatory effects in pulmonary fibrosis. Nonetheless, whether Tan IIA affects lung fibrosis-related EMT remains unknown and requires for further investigations. A single intratracheal instillation of saline containing bleomycin (BLM; 5 mg/kg body weight) was performed to induce pulmonary fibrosis in Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats receiving an instillation of equivoluminal normal saline served as controls. Then, these rats were given a daily intraperitoneal administration of Tan IIA (15 mg/kg body weight) for 28 d before sacrifice. In vitro, recombinant transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1; 10 ng/mL) was used to treat human alveolar epithelial A549 cells for 48 h. Tan IIA (10 μM) or control DMSO was used to pretreat cells for 2 h before TGF-β1 stimulation. Rat lung tissue samples and A549 cells were then subjected to further assessments. Tan IIA was noted to alleviate BLM-induced pulmonary collagen deposition and macrophage infiltration in rats. Epithelial-cadherin expression was decreased after BLM stimulation, whereas α-smooth muscle actin, fibronectin, and vimentin were increased. These expression alterations were partially reversed by Tan IIA. Moreover, Tan IIA suppressed BLM-induced increases in TGF-β1, phosphorylated Smad-2, and -3 in rats. Additionally, pretreatment of Tan IIA inhibited TGF-β1-triggered EMT, reduced collagen Ⅰ production, and blocked TGF-β signal transduction in A549 cells. Our research suggests that Tan IIA mitigates BLM-induced pulmonary fibrosis and suppresses TGF-β-dependent EMT of lung alveolar epithelial cells.