Educational Department of Liaoning Province [LJQ2013108]
; SPU Excellent Scholar Fund, Natural Science Foundation of Liaoning Province 
; National Natural Science Foundation of China 
Various methods have been used to evaluate anti-fibrotic activity of drugs. However, most of them are complicated, labor-intensive and lack of efficiency. This study was intended to develop a rapid method for anti-fibrotic drugs screening based on biophysical properties. A549 cells in vitro were stimulated with transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1), and fibrogenesis was confirmed by conventional immunological assays. Meanwhile, the alterations of cyto-biophysical properties including morphology, roughness and stiffness were measured utilizing atomic force microscopy (AFM). It was found that fibrogenesis was accompanied with changes of cellular biophysical properties. TGF-beta 1-stimulated A549 cells became remarkably longer, rougher and stiffer than the control. Then, the effect of N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) as a positive drug on ameliorating fibrogenesis in TGF-beta 1-stimulated A549 cells was verified respectively by immunological and biophysical markers. The result of Principal Component Analysis showed that stiffness was a leading index among all biophysical markers during fibrogenesis. Salvianolic acid B (SalB), a natural anti-oxidant, was detected by AFM to protect TGF-beta 1-stimulated A549 cells against stiffening. Then, SalB treatment was provided in preventive mode on a rat model of bleomycin (BLM) -induced pulmonary fibrosis. The results showed that SalB treatment significantly ameliorated BLM-induced histological alterations, blocked collagen accumulations and reduced alpha-SMA expression in lung tissues. All these results revealed the anti-pulmonary fibrotic activity of SalB. Detection of cyto-biophysical properties were therefore recommended as a rapid method for anti-pulmonary fibrotic drugs screening. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.