Nuclear respiratory factor-1 negatively regulates TGF-β1 and attenuates pulmonary fibrosis

Hagir B. Suliman, Zachary Healy, Fabio Zobi, Bryan D. Kraft, Karen Welty-Wolf, Joshua Smith, Christina Barkauskas, Claude A. Piantadosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The preclinical model of bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis is useful to study mechanisms related to human pulmonary fibrosis. Using BLM in mice, we find low HO-1 expression. Although a unique Rhenium-CO-releasing molecule (ReCORM) up-regulates HO-1, NRF-1, CCN5, and SMAD7, it reduces TGFβ1, TGFβr1, collagen, α-SMA, and phosphorylated Smad2/3 levels in mouse lung and in human lung fibroblasts. ChIP assay studies confirm NRF-1 binding to the promoters of TGFβ1 repressors CCN5 and Smad7. ReCORM did not blunt lung fibrosis in Hmox1-deficient alveolar type 2 cell knockout mice, suggesting this gene participates in lung protection. In human lung fibroblasts, TGFβ1-dependent production of α-SMA is abolished by ReCORM or by NRF-1 gene transfection. We demonstrate effective HO-1/NRF-1 signaling in lung AT2 cells protects against BLM induced lung injury and fibrosis by maintaining mitochondrial health, function, and suppressing the TGFβ1 pathway. Thus, protection of AT2 cell mitochondrial integrity via HO-1/NRF-1 presents an innovative therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103535
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2022


  • Biological sciences
  • Cell biology
  • Pathophysiology


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