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Fibroblasts and mesenchymal cells 

Fibroblasts and mesenchymal cells
Fibroblasts and mesenchymal cells
Oxford Textbook of Rheumatology (4 ed.)

Andrew Filer

, Maria Juarez

, and Christopher Buckley


In order to understand and explore the function and roles of fibroblasts, it is necessary to understand their lineage relationships to other mesenchymal cells. Fibroblasts are ubiquitous non-epithelial, non-endothelial, and non-haematopoietic adherent cells that have the capacity to produce and remodel extracellular matrix. In addition to their well-known ’landscaping’ function which determines the unique structure and function of different organs, they play an important role in wound healing, immune tolerance, and disease. In cancer, epithelial-stromal interactions have been implicated in disease initiation and progression. In rheumatoid arthritis, synovial fibroblasts at diseased sites become persistently activated and behave abnormally, orchestrating joint inflammation and contributing to joint destruction. Recent evidence suggests that the activated phenotype of fibroblasts in pathology may result from epigenetic programming, which is becoming a major focus for development of new therapeutics.

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