Dupuytren's disease (DD) is a benign fibroproliferative disease of the hand. It is characterized by the excessive production of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, which form a strong fibrous tissue between the handpalm and fingers, permanently disrupting the fine movement ability. The major contractile element in DD is the myofibroblast (MFB). This cell has both fibroblast and smooth muscle cell-type characteristics and causes pathological collagen deposition. MFBs generate contractile forces that are transmitted to the surrounding collagen matrix. Major profibrotic factors are members of the transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) pathway which directly regulate the expression levels of several fibrous proteins such as collagen type 1, type 3, and α-smooth muscle actin. Molecular modulation of this signaling pathway could serve as a therapeutic approach. We, therefore, have developed an ex vivo "clinical trial" system to study the properties of intact, patient-derived resection specimens. In these culture conditions, Dupuytren's tissue retains its three-dimensional (3D) structure and viability. As a novel antifibrotic therapeutic approach, we targeted TGFβ type 1 receptor (also termed activin receptor-like kinase 5) expression in cultured Dupuytren's specimens by antisense oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping. Antisense oligonucleotides targeting activin receptor-like kinase 5 showed specific reduction of ECM and potential for clinical application.
- exon skipping