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Conjunctival fibrosis is a process of extracellular matrix accumulation and the appearance of myofibroblasts in subconjunctival fibroblasts induced by injury or inflammation, which can significantly reduce the filtration efficiency of glaucoma filtration surgery. In this study, autophagy was confirmed to be involved in regulating the fibrosis of human subconjunctival fibroblasts (hSCFs) induced by TGF-β1. Following the addition of rapamycin, we detected that autophagy activation could reduce the increased expression level of αSMA and the accumulation of extracellular matrix component proteins namely fibronectin and type I collagen induced by TGF-β1 via the inhibition of SMAD2 phosphorylation. Following the addition of HCQ, the inhibition of autophagy aggravated TGF-β1-induced fibrosis of hSCFs. We further verified that trehalose, a safe clinical drug, could alleviate TGF-β1-induced fibrosis of hSCFs by activating autophagy and that these effects could be blocked by autophagy inhibition. In summary, autophagy was shown to be involved in the regulation of TGF-β1-induced fibrosis of hSCFs, which provided a novel perspective for exploring the progression of this lesion. More importantly, the protective effects of trehalose on TGF-β1-induced fibrosis of hSCFs were mediated by the activation of autophagy and could provide possible new approaches for the clinical treatment of conjunctival fibrosis.
PMID: 32447719 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]