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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Respiratory Research 1/2017

Anti-fibrotic efficacy of nintedanib in pulmonary fibrosis via the inhibition of fibrocyte activity

Respiratory Research > Ausgabe 1/2017
Seidai Sato, Shintaro Shinohara, Shinya Hayashi, Shun Morizumi, Shuichi Abe, Hiroyasu Okazaki, Yanjuan Chen, Hisatsugu Goto, Yoshinori Aono, Hirohisa Ogawa, Kazuya Koyama, Haruka Nishimura, Hiroshi Kawano, Yuko Toyoda, Hisanori Uehara, Yasuhiko Nishioka
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12931-017-0654-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Nintedanib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is specific for platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR), fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR), and vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR), has recently been approved for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Fibrocytes are bone marrow-derived progenitor cells that produce growth factors and contribute to fibrogenesis in the lungs. However, the effects of nintedanib on the functions of fibrocytes remain unclear.


Human monocytes were isolated from the peripheral blood of healthy volunteers. The expression of growth factors and their receptors in fibrocytes was analyzed using ELISA and Western blotting. The effects of nintedanib on the ability of fibrocytes to stimulate lung fibroblasts were examined in terms of their proliferation. The direct effects of nintedanib on the differentiation and migration of fibrocytes were also assessed. We investigated whether nintedanib affected the accumulation of fibrocytes in mouse lungs treated with bleomycin.


Human fibrocytes produced PDGF, FGF2, and VEGF-A. Nintedanib and specific inhibitors for each growth factor receptor significantly inhibited the proliferation of lung fibroblasts stimulated by the supernatant of fibrocytes. Nintedanib inhibited the migration and differentiation of fibrocytes induced by growth factors in vitro. The number of fibrocytes in the bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis model was reduced by the administration of nintedanib, and this was associated with anti-fibrotic effects.


These results support the role of fibrocytes as producers of and responders to growth factors, and suggest that the anti-fibrotic effects of nintedanib are at least partly mediated by suppression of fibrocyte function.
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