Purpose of review: To review the scientific literature supporting the participation of caveolin-1 in the pathogenesis of tissue fibrosis and the notion that modulation of the caveolin-1 pathway may represent a novel treatment for systemic sclerosis and other fibrotic diseases.
Recent findings: Caveolin-1 plays an important role in the regulation of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling owing to its participation in TGF-β receptor internalization. TGF-β receptor internalized through caveolin-1 lipid rafts undergoes rapid degradation, effectively decreasing TGF-β signaling. Studies have shown that caveolin-1 knockdown in vitro markedly increased collagen gene expression in normal human lung fibroblasts. Caveolin-1 was reduced in affected systemic sclerosis lungs and skin and in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis lung tissues and fibroblasts. Increasing caveolin-1 expression markedly improved bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. Restoration of caveolin bioavailability employing penetratin, a cell-permeable peptide carrier for a bioactive caveolin-1 fragment, abrogated TGF-β activation of cultured human dermal fibroblasts. Systemic administration of penetratin-caveolin-1 peptide to mice with bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis reduced fibrosis.
Summary: Caveolin-1 plays an important role in the regulation of TGF-β signaling and participates in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Restoration of caveolin function employing active caveolin-1 fragments coupled to cell-permeable carrier peptides may represent a novel approach for their treatment.