Sirolimus suppresses circulating fibrocytes in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in a randomized controlled crossover trial

Diana C. Gomez-Manjarres, Dierdre B. Axell-House, Divya C. Patel, John Odackal, Victor Yu, Marie D. Burdick, Borna Mehrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUNDFibrocytes are BM-derived circulating cells that traffic to the injured lungs and contribute to fibrogenesis. The mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus, inhibits fibrocyte CXCR4 expression, reducing fibrocyte traffic and attenuating lung fibrosis in animal models. We sought to test the hypothesis that short-term treatment with sirolimus reduces the concentration of CXCR4+ circulating fibrocytes in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).METHODSWe conducted a short-term randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover pilot trial to assess the safety and tolerability of sirolimus in IPF. Participants were randomly assigned to sirolimus or placebo for approximately 6 weeks, and after a 4-week washout, they were assigned to the alternate treatment. Toxicity, lung function, and the concentration of circulating fibrocytes were measured before and after each treatment.RESULTSIn the 28 study participants, sirolimus resulted in a statistically significant 35% decline in the concentration of total fibrocytes, 34% decline in CXCR4+ fibrocytes, and 42% decline in fibrocytes expressing α-smooth muscle actin, but no significant change in these populations occurred on placebo. Respiratory adverse events occurred more frequently during treatment with placebo than sirolimus; the incidence of adverse events and drug tolerability did not otherwise differ during therapy with drug and placebo. Lung function was unaffected by either treatment, with the exception of a small decline in gas transfer during treatment with placebo.CONCLUSIONAs compared with placebo, short-term treatment with sirolimus resulted in reduction of circulating fibrocyte concentrations in participants with IPF, with an acceptable safety profile.TRIAL, accession no. NCT01462006.FUNDINGNIH R01HL098329 and American Heart Association 18TPA34170486.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere166901
JournalJCI insight
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 24 2023


  • United States
  • Animals
  • Sirolimus/adverse effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/drug therapy
  • Lung/metabolism
  • Fibroblasts/metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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