Research Topic

Organ Fibrosis: Triggers, Pathways and Cellular Plasticity

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Organ fibrosis is an integral part of the pathophysiological mechanism underlying organ failure and disease progression in a multitude of pathologies including Crohn's disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and chronic kidney disease. Over the last decades, several signaling pathways involved in the fibrotic ...

Organ fibrosis is an integral part of the pathophysiological mechanism underlying organ failure and disease progression in a multitude of pathologies including Crohn's disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and chronic kidney disease. Over the last decades, several signaling pathways involved in the fibrotic response have been identified, including the archetypal transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) pathways as well as the Wnt, Hedgehog and the MAPK/ERK pathways. And a cornucopia of information on the minute details of receptor activation, the intracellular signaling cascade and associated proteins are emerging. Greatly increasing our ability to modulate and interfere with the fibrotic process. However, many of the triggers inducing fibrogenesis remain to be elucidated. Matrix-producing cells, e.g. myofibroblasts, are key players in organ fibrosis, and a lot of progress has been made in unraveling the origin of these cells, via lineage-tracing studies, during the fibrotic response in different organs, including kidney, liver and lung. These studies indicate that the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) hardly contributes to the development of myofibroblasts associated with fibrogenesis. Yet, the loss of epithelial cell characteristics by EMT – recently dubbed Epithelial Phenotypic Changes (EPC) - likely plays a key role in the pathological process of fibrosis.

In this Research Topic, we wish to provide a timely overview of disease- and organ-specific triggers associated with the induction and perpetuation of fibrogenesis. Moreover, we would like to provide a summary of the important signaling pathways in organ fibrosis, thereby providing new clues for potential anti-fibrotic targets. Also, we wish to summarize the current understanding of EPC in the fibrotic process and further define this pathophysiological mechanism. Lastly, submission of original experimental work on organ fibrosis is greatly welcomed.


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