International Journal of Biological Sciences

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Int J Biol Sci 2017; 13(5):604-614. doi:10.7150/ijbs.19591

Research Paper

SDF-1 in Mammary Fibroblasts of Bovine with Mastitis Induces EMT and Inflammatory Response of Epithelial Cells

Guiliang He1, Mengru Ma1, Wei Yang1, Hao Wang1, Yong Zhang1, 2✉, Ming-Qing Gao1, 2✉

1. College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China;
2. Key Laboratory of Animal Biotechnology, Ministry of Agriculture, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China.


Fibroblasts constitute the majority of the stromal cells within bovine mammary gland, yet the functional contributions of these cells to mastitis and fibrosis and the mechanism are poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate that inflammation-associated fibroblasts (INFs) extracted from bovine mammary glands with clinical mastitis had different expression pattern regarding to several extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, chemokines and cytokines compared to normal fibroblasts (NFs) from dairy cows during lactation. The INFs induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and inflammatory responses of mammary epithelial cells in a vitro co-culture model. These functional contributions of INFs to normal epithelial cells were mediated through their ability to secrete stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1). SDF-1 was highly secreted/expressed by INFs, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) -treated NFs, lipoteichoic acid (LTA) -treated NFs, as well as mastitic tissue compared to their counterparts. Exogenous SDF-1 promoted EMT on epithelial cells through activating NF-κB pathway, induced inflammation response and inhibited proliferation of epithelial cells. In addition, SDF-1 was able to induce mastitis and slight fibrosis of mouse mammary gland, which was attenuated by a specific inhibitor of the receptor of SDF-1. Our findings indicate that stromal fibroblasts within mammary glands with mastitis contribute to EMT and inflammatory responses of epithelial cells through the secretion of SDF-1, which could result in the inflammation spread and fibrosis within mammary gland.

Keywords: Stromal cell-derived factor 1, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, fibroblasts, epithelial cells, bovine mastitis.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
He G, Ma M, Yang W, Wang H, Zhang Y, Gao MQ. SDF-1 in Mammary Fibroblasts of Bovine with Mastitis Induces EMT and Inflammatory Response of Epithelial Cells. Int J Biol Sci 2017; 13(5):604-614. doi:10.7150/ijbs.19591. Available from