Parvovirus B19 activates in vitro normal human dermal fibroblasts: a possible implication in skin fibrosis and systemic sclerosis.

Fibrosis is the most characteristic pathological hallmark of SSc, a connective tissue disease characterized by vascular and immunological abnormalities, inflammation and enhanced extracellular matrix production, leading to progressive fibrosis of skin and internal organs. We previously demonstrated that parvovirus B19 (B19V) can infect normal human dermal fibroblasts (NHDFs) and that B19V persists in SSc fibroblasts. In this study, we investigated whether parvovirus B19V is able to activate in vitro NHDFs and to induce in these cells some phenotypic features similar to that observed in the SSc fibroblasts.We preliminarily analysed the time course of B19V infection in cultured NHDFs, then we investigated the ability of B19V to induce cell migration, invasive phenotype and mRNA expression of some profibrotic and/or proinflammatory genes.We confirmed our previous findings that B19V infects NHDFs, but the infection is not productive. After incubation with B19V, NHDFs showed a significant increase of both migration and invasiveness, along with mRNA expression of different profibrotic genes (α-SMA, EDN-1, IL-6, TGF-β1 receptors 1 and 2, Col1α2), some genes associated with inflammasome platform (AIM2, IFI16, IL-1β, CASP-1) and genes for metalloprotease (MMP 2, 9 and 12).These data suggest that B19V can activate dermal fibroblasts and may have a role in the pathogenesis of fibrosis. B19V-induced fibroblast migration and invasiveness could be due to the B19V-associated MMP9 overexpression and activation. Moreover, the up-regulation of MMP12, typical of SSc, could link the B19V infection of fibroblasts to the anti-angiogenic process.

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