Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays an important role in embryogenesis and organ formation. Over the last 10-15 years it has been established that EMT is a significant mechanism of tumor progression and metastasis formation and also of progressive tissue fibrosis in the kidney, liver and lung. EMT seen in these diverse physiological and pathophysiological contexts shares a number of stages and modules, but also carries distinct, context specific characteristics. EMT in tissue fibrosis is a form of reverse embryogenesis, when highly specialized epithelial cells in the specific organs will respond to injury with loosing their epithelial characteristics and functions and regaining characteristics of the cells from which they originated. EMT in the context of tissue fibrosis can be induced by different forms of injury or a set of humoral factors. The process is regulated by a complex balance of humoral and microenvironmental stimuli, in which cell-cell contacts and interaction of the transitioning cell with the extracellular matrix components is very important. Intense research in this exciting field yielded good understanding of many of the details of this fascinating process, although numerous questions still await proper answers. There is indication that understanding of th e molecular mechanisms underlying "fibrotic" EMT may lead to the design of specific and effective therapeutic measures for progressive tissue fibrosis.
- Adherens junctions
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Extracellular matrix
- Renal fibrosis
- Transforming growth factor-beta
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)