Fibrosis is the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix that often occurs as a wound healing response to repeated or chronic tissue injury, and may lead to the disruption of organ architecture and loss of function. Although fibrosis was previously thought to be irreversible, recent evidence indicates that certain circumstances permit the resolution of fibrosis when the underlying causes of injury are eradicated. The mechanism of fibrosis resolution encompasses degradation of the fibrotic extracellular matrix as well as elimination of fibrogenic myofibroblasts through their adaptation of various cell fates, including apoptosis, senescence, dedifferentiation, and reprogramming. In this Review, we discuss the present knowledge and gaps in our understanding of how matrix degradation is regulated and how myofibroblast cell fates can be manipulated, areas that may identify potential therapeutic approaches for fibrosis.
Joon-Il Jun, Lester F. Lau