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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2012, Article ID 458276, 15 pages
Review Article

Therapeutic Targeting of Redox Signaling in Myofibroblast Differentiation and Age-Related Fibrotic Disease

1Department of Experimental Urology, Medical University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2Institute for Biomedical Aging Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria

Received 29 June 2012; Accepted 18 September 2012

Academic Editor: Paula Ludovico

Copyright © 2012 Natalie Sampson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Myofibroblast activation plays a central role during normal wound healing. Whereas insufficient myofibroblast activation impairs wound healing, excessive myofibroblast activation promotes fibrosis in diverse tissues (including benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH) leading to organ dysfunction and also promotes a stromal response that supports tumor progression. The incidence of impaired wound healing, tissue fibrosis, BPH, and certain cancers strongly increases with age. This paper summarizes findings from in vitro fibroblast-to-myofibroblast differentiation systems that serve as cellular models to study fibrogenesis of diverse tissues. Supported by substantial in vivo data, a large body of evidence indicates that myofibroblast differentiation induced by the profibrotic cytokine transforming growth factor beta is driven by a prooxidant shift in redox homeostasis due to elevated production of NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4)-derived hydrogen peroxide and supported by concomitant decreases in nitric oxide/cGMP signaling and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging enzymes. Fibroblast-to-myofibroblast differentiation can be inhibited and reversed by restoring redox homeostasis using antioxidants or NOX4 inactivation as well as enhancing nitric oxide/cGMP signaling via activation of soluble guanylyl cyclases or inhibition of phosphodiesterases. Current evidence indicates the therapeutic potential of targeting the prooxidant shift in redox homeostasis for the treatment of age-related diseases associated with myofibroblast dysregulation.