Treatment with rapamycin prevents fibrosis in tight-skin and bleomycin-induced mouse models of systemic sclerosis

Ayumi Yoshizaki, Koichi Yanaba, Asako Yoshizaki, Yohei Iwata, Kazuhiro Komura, Fumihide Ogawa, Motoi Takenaka, Kazuhiro Shimizu, Yoshihide Asano, Minoru Hasegawa, Manabu Fujimoto, Shinichi Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. Rapamycin, a novel macrolide immunosuppressive drug, is increasingly used as an agent for posttransplant immunosuppression and treatment of autoimmune disease. The molecular mechanism related to rapamycin-mediated immunosuppression is that rapamycin binds to FK-506 binding protein 12, and the formed complex inhibits the function of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which in turn reduces protein phosphorylation, cell cycle progression, and cytokine production. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of rapamycin against the development of fibrosis and autoimmunity in 2 different types of systemic sclerosis (SSc) model mice. Methods. Tight skin (TSK/+) mice and bleomycininduced SSc model mice were used to evaluate the effect of rapamycin on fibrosis and immunologic abnormalities. Furthermore, the antifibrotic effect of rapamycin was assessed using TSK/+ mouse fibroblasts. Results. Treatment with rapamycin reduced skin fibrosis of TSK/+ mice and skin and lung fibrosis of bleomycin-induced SSc model mice. The production of fibrogenic cytokines, such as interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-6, IL-17, and transforming growth factor β1, was attenuated by rapamycin. Hypergammaglobulinemia and anti-topoisomerase I antibody production were also reduced by rapamycin treatment in TSK/+ mice. In addition, mTOR expression levels were increased in TSK/+ mouse fibroblasts compared with those in wild-type mouse fibroblasts. Rapamycin treatment inhibited proliferation and collagen production of TSK/+ mouse fibroblasts in a dose-dependent manner. Conclusion. This study is the first to show that rapamycin has a significant inhibitory effect on fibrosis in both TSK/+ and bleomycin-induced SSc model mice. These results suggest that rapamycin might be an attractive candidate for clinical trials in SSc patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2476-2487
Number of pages12
JournalArthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 08-2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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