Rudolph Virchow discovered spindle-shaped cells called fibroblasts in 1858. Inactive fibroblasts, called fibrocytes, become activated by various stimuli, such as growth factors and inflammatory cytokines. Activated fibroblasts play a crucial role in wound healing, inflammation, formation of new blood vessels, and cancer progression. Uncontrolled activation of fibroblasts results in fibrosis, the excess deposition of fibrous tissue, which can lead to scarring and affect normal organs. This results in fibrotic disorders such as liver cirrhosis, kidney cirrhosis, and cardiac fibrosis.
In addition to being easily accessible in the body, fibroblasts can also be cultured in the laboratory as primary cell cultures or permanent cell lines. Fibroblast cell lines have been used for years to determine the pathogenesis of certain specific diseases. Currently, fibroblasts are also used for modeling diseases.
Fibroblasts can retain the memory of their anatomical positions through changes in gene expression and chromatin modifications. This includes memories of the location of their tissue of origin and memories of previous inflammation. This property of keeping memories of various stimuli supports fibroblasts’ role in immune responses and tissue homeostasis.
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