Aberrant extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and remodelling is important in the disease pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis (PF). We characterised neoepitope biomarkers released by ECM turnover in lung tissue from bleomycin-treated rats and patients with PF and analysed the effects of two antifibrotic drugs: nintedanib and pirfenidone.
Precision-cut lung slices (PCLS) were prepared from bleomycin-treated rats or patients with PF. PCLS were incubated with nintedanib or pirfenidone for 48 h, and levels of neoepitope biomarkers of type I, III and VI collagen formation or degradation (PRO-C1, PRO-C3, PRO-C6 and C3M) as well as fibronectin (FBN-C) were assessed in the culture supernatants.
In rat PCLS, incubation with nintedanib led to a reduction in C3M, reflecting type III collagen degradation. In patient PCLS, incubation with nintedanib reduced the levels of PRO-C3 and C3M, thus showing effects on both formation and degradation of type III collagen. Incubation with pirfenidone had a marginal effect on PRO-C3. There were no other notable effects of either nintedanib or pirfenidone on the other neoepitope biomarkers studied.
This study demonstrated that nintedanib modulates neoepitope biomarkers of type III collagen turnover and indicated that C3M is a promising translational neoepitope biomarker of PF in terms of therapy assessment.
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