Fibrocytes originate from the bone marrow monocyte lineage and participate in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Research providing a comprehensive picture of fibrocytes is still limited. Cofilin-1 (CFL-1) is an important protein that regulates cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. Whether CFL-1 can induce monocyte differentiation into fibrocytes and promote the process of pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. Compared with that of healthy controls, the expression of CFL-1 was significantly increased in the plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and connective tissue disease-associated interstitial lung disease (CTD-ILD) patients (P < 0.05). The percentages of peripheral blood fibrocytes in the IPF group (4.2550 ± 0.3483%) and CTD-ILD group (4.7100 ± 0.4811%) were higher than that in the control group (1.6340 ± 0.2549%) (both P < 0.05). In vitro, PBMCs transfected with siRNA-CFL-1 showed lower expression of CFL-1, and the percentage of fibrocytes was lower than that of the control (P < 0.05). PBMCs transfected with Lv-CFL-1 to increase the expression of CFL-1 showed a higher percentage of fibrocytes than the control (P < 0.05). In mice with bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, the relative expression of CFL-1 was increased, and the percentage of fibrocytes was higher than that in the saline group (P < 0.05). In bleomycin-induced mice, interference with Lv-CFL-1 decreased the expression of CFL-1, the percentage of fibrocytes was lower, and the lung tissue showed less fibrosis (P < 0.05). The overexpression of CFL-1 is associated with pulmonary fibrogenesis. CFL-1 could promote the differentiation of fibrocytes from monocyte peripheral blood mononuclear cells and promote pulmonary fibrosis.
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