Role of fibroblast growth factor 23 and klotho cross talk in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Jarrod W. Barnes, Dawn Duncan, Scott Helton, Samuel Hutcheson, Deepali Kurundkar, Naomi J. Logsdon, Morgan Locy, Jaleesa Garth, Rebecca Denson, Carol Farver, Hai T. Vo, Gwendalyn King, Dominik Kentrup, Christian Faul, Tejaswini Kulkarni, Joao A. De Andrade, Zhihong Yu, Sadis Matalon, Victor J. Thannickal, Stefanie Krick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic, progressive fibrosing interstitial pneumonia that mainly affects the elderly. Several reports have demonstrated that aging is involved in the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of IPF. α-Klotho (KL) has been well characterized as an “age-suppressing” hormone and can provide protection against cellular senescence and oxidative stress. In this study, KL levels were assessed in human plasma and primary lung fibroblasts from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF-FB) and in lung tissue from mice exposed to bleomycin, which showed significant downregulation when compared with controls. Conversely, transgenic mice overexpressing KL were protected against bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis. Treatment of human lung fibroblasts with recombinant KL alone was not sufficient to inhibit transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)-induced collagen deposition and inflammatory marker expression. Interestingly, fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23), a proinflammatory circulating protein for which KL is a coreceptor, was upregulated in IPF and bleomycin lungs. To our surprise, FGF23 and KL coadministration led to a significant reduction in fibrosis and inflammation in IPF-FB; FGF23 administration alone or in combination with KL stimulated KL upregulation. We conclude that in IPF downregulation of KL may contribute to fibrosis and inflammation and FGF23 may act as a compensatory antifibrotic and anti-inflammatory mediator via inhibition of TGF-β signaling. Upon restoration of KL levels, the combination of FGF23 and KL leads to resolution of inflammation and fibrosis. Altogether, these data provide novel insight into the FGF23/KL axis and its antifibrotic/anti-inflammatory properties, which opens new avenues for potential therapies in aging-related diseases like IPF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L141-L154
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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