Combined obeticholic acid and elafibranor treatment promotes additive liver histological improvements in a diet-induced ob/ob mouse model of biopsy-confirmed NASH.
ABSTRACT: Obeticholic acid (OCA) and elafibranor (ELA) are selective and potent agonists for the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and dual peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ?/? (PPAR-?/?), respectively. Both agents have demonstrated clinical efficacy in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The present study used OCA and ELA to compare the effects of mono- and combination therapies on metabolic and histological endpoints in Lepob/ob mice with established diet-induced and biopsy-confirmed NASH (ob/ob-NASH). ob/ob-NASH mice were fed the AMLN diet high in trans-fat, fructose and cholesterol for 15 weeks, whereafter they received vehicle, OCA (30?mg/kg, PO, QD), ELA (3, 10?mg/kg, PO, QD), or combinations (OCA?+?ELA) for eight weeks. Within-subject comparisons were performed on histomorphometric changes, including fractional area of liver fat, galectin-3 and Col1a1. OCA and ELA monotherapies improved all quantitative histopathological parameters and OCA?+?ELA combinations exerted additive effects on metabolic and histological endpoints. In agreement with their different molecular mechanisms of action, OCA and ELA monotherapies elicited distinct hepatic gene expression profiles and their combination led to profound transcriptome changes associated with further improvements in lipid handling and insulin signaling, suppression of immune responses and reduced extracellular matrix formation. In conclusion, these findings provide preclinical proof-of-concept for combined FXR and PPAR-?/? agonist-based therapies in NASH.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an unmet need associated with metabolic syndrome. There are no approved therapies for NASH; however, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) and farnesoid-X receptor (FXR) agonists are promising drug targets. We investigated the therapeutic effects of co-administration of a GLP-1R agonist, IP118, with FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) in mice. METHODS:OCA and IP118 alone and in combination were sub-chronically administered to Lepob/Lepob mice with diet-induced NASH or diet-induced obese (DIO) mice. Metabolic (body weight and glucose) and liver (biochemical and histological) endpoints were assessed. NASH severity in Lepob/Lepob mice was graded using a customized integrated scoring system. RESULTS:OCA reduced liver weight and lipid in NASH mice (both by -17%) but had no effect on plasma ALT or AST levels. In contrast, IP118 significantly reduced liver weight (-21%), liver lipid (-15%), ALT (-29%), and AST (-27%). The combination of OCA + IP118 further reduced liver weight (-29%), liver lipid (-22%), ALT (-39%), and AST (-36%). Combination therapy was superior to monotherapies in reducing hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis. Hepatic improvements with IP118 and OCA + IP118 were associated with reduced body weight (-4.3% and -3.5% respectively) and improved glycemic control in OCA + IP118-treated mice. In DIO mice, OCA + IP118 co-administration reduced body weight (-25.3%) to a greater degree than IP118 alone (-12.5%) and further improved glucose tolerance and reduced hepatic lipid. CONCLUSION:Our data suggest a complementary or synergistic therapeutic effect of GLP-1R and FXR agonism in mouse models of metabolic disease and NASH.
Project description:Accumulating evidence has suggested that farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonists, such as obeticholic acid (OCA) are therapeutically useful for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). However, it is still unclear how FXR agonists protect against NASH and which cell type is the main target of FXR agonists. In this study, we examined the effects of OCA on the development of NASH using melanocortin 4 receptor-deficient (MC4R-KO) mice that progressively developed hepatic steatosis and NASH on Western diet (WD). Treatment with OCA effectively prevented chronic inflammation and liver fibrosis in WD-fed MC4R-KO mice with only marginal effect on body weight and hepatic steatosis. Hepatic crown-like structure (hCLS) is a unique histological structure characteristic of NASH, which triggers hepatocyte death-induced interstitial fibrosis. Intriguingly, treatment with OCA markedly reduced hCLS formation even after MC4R-KO mice developed NASH, thereby inhibiting the progression of liver fibrosis. As its mechanism of action, OCA suppressed metabolic stress-induced p53 activation and cell death in hepatocytes. Our findings in this study highlight the role of FXR in hepatocytes in the pathogenesis of NASH. Collectively, this study demonstrates the anti-fibrotic effect of OCA in a murine model of NASH with obesity and insulin resistance, which suggests the clinical implication for human NASH.
Project description:microRNAs were recently suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a disease lacking specific pharmacological treatments. In that regard, nuclear receptors are arising as key molecular targets for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Here we show that, in a typical model of NASH-associated liver damage, microRNA-21 (miR-21) ablation results in a progressive decrease in steatosis, inflammation and lipoapoptosis, with impairment of fibrosis. In a complementary fast food (FF) diet NASH model, mimicking features of the metabolic syndrome, miR-21 levels increase in both liver and muscle, concomitantly with decreased expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ? (PPAR?), a key miR-21 target. Strikingly, miR-21 knockout mice fed the FF diet supplemented with farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) display minimal steatosis, inflammation, oxidative stress and cholesterol accumulation. In addition, lipoprotein metabolism was restored, including decreased fatty acid uptake and polyunsaturation, and liver and muscle insulin sensitivity fully reinstated. Finally, the miR-21/PPAR? axis was found amplified in liver and muscle biopsies, and in serum, of NAFLD patients, co-substantiating its role in the development of the metabolic syndrome. By unveiling that miR-21 abrogation, together with FXR activation by OCA, significantly improves whole body metabolic parameters in NASH, our results highlight the therapeutic potential of nuclear receptor multi-targeting therapies for NAFLD.
Project description:Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is a promising target for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and fibrosis. Although various FXR agonists have shown anti-fibrotic effects in diverse preclinical animal models, the response rate and efficacies in clinical trials were not optimum. Here we report that prophylactic but not therapeutic administration of obeticholic acid (OCA) prevents hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation and fibrogenesis. Activated HSCs show limited response to OCA and other FXR agonists due to enhanced FXR SUMOylation. SUMOylation inhibitors rescue FXR signaling and thereby increasing the efficacy of OCA against HSC activation and fibrosis. FXR upregulates Perilipin-1, a direct target gene of FXR, to stabilize lipid droplets and thereby prevent HSC activation. Therapeutic coadministration of OCA and SUMOylation inhibitors drastically impedes liver fibrosis induced by CCl4, bile duct ligation, and more importantly NASH. In conclusion, we propose a promising therapeutic approach by combining SUMOylation inhibitors and FXR agonists for liver fibrosis.
Project description:Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonism is emerging as an important potential therapeutic mechanism of action for multiple chronic liver diseases. The bile acid–derived FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA; 6-ethyl chenodeoxycholic acid) has shown promise in a phase 2 study in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Here, we report efficacy of a novel, non–bile acid FXR agonist tropifexor (LJN452) in two distinct preclinical models of NASH. The efficacy of tropifexor at <1 mg/kg doses was superior to that of OCA at 25 mg/kg in the liver in both NASH models. In a chemical and dietary model of NASH (STAM model), tropifexor reversed established fibrosis and reduced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score and hepatic triglycerides. In an insulin-resistant, obese NASH model (AMLN), tropifexor markedly reduced steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and profibrogenic gene expression. Transcriptome analysis of livers from AMLN mice revealed 461 differentially expressed genes following tropifexor treatment, which included a combination of signatures associated with reduction of oxidative stress, fibrogenesis, and inflammation. Conclusion: Based on the preclinical validation in animal models, tropifexor is a promising investigational therapy that is currently under phase 2 development for NASH. Overall design: Liver mRNA profiles of male C57BL/6 mice aged ~6 weeks and maintained on a high-fat (40% kcal; Primex), high-fructose (22% by weight), and high-cholesterol (2% by weight) diet (Research Diets Inc., New Brunswick, NJ; cat. no. D09100301) for 26 weeks to induce NASH. Control animals received low-fat diet (10% kcal) with no fructose or cholesterol (Research Diets; cat. no. D09100304). From week 26, animals received tropifexor (0.1, 0.3, or 0.9 mg/kg) or OCA (25 mg/kg) qd orally for 4 weeks.
Project description:The main treatments for patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are currently based on lifestyle changes, including ponderal decrease and dietary management. However, a subgroup of patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), who are unable to modify their lifestyle successfully, may benefit from pharmaceutical support. Several drugs targeting pathogenic mechanisms of NAFLD have been evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of NASH. Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is a nuclear key regulator controlling several processes of the hepatic metabolism. NAFLD has been proven to be associated with abnormal FXR activity. Obeticholic acid (OCA) is a first-in-class selective FXR agonist with anticholestatic and hepato-protective properties. Currently, OCA is registered for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis. However, promising effects of OCA on NASH and its metabolic features have been reported in several studies.
Project description:Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is known to play important regulatory roles in bile acid, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism. Aged (>12 months old) Fxr(-/-) mice also develop spontaneous liver carcinomas. In this report, we used three mouse models to investigate the role of FXR deficiency in obesity. As compared with low-density lipoprotein receptor (Ldlr) knockout (Ldlr(-/-)) mice, the Ldlr(-/-)Fxr(-/-) double-knockout mice were highly resistant to diet-induced obesity, which was associated with increased expression of genes involved in energy metabolism in the skeletal muscle and brown adipose tissue. Such a striking effect of FXR deficiency on obesity on an Ldlr(-/-) background led us to investigate whether FXR deficiency alone is sufficient to affect obesity. As compared with wild-type mice, Fxr(-/-) mice showed resistance to diet-induced weight gain. Interestingly, only female Fxr(-/-) mice showed significant resistance to diet-induced obesity, which was accompanied by increased energy expenditure in these mice. Finally, we determined the effect of FXR deficiency on obesity in a genetically obese and diabetic mouse model. We generated ob(-/-)Fxr(-/-) mice that were deficient in both Leptin and Fxr. On a chow diet, ob(-/-)Fxr(-/-) mice gained less body weight and had reduced body fat mass as compared with ob/ob mice. In addition, we observed liver carcinomas in 43% of young (<11 months old) Ob(-/-)Fxr(-/-) mice. Together these data indicate that loss of FXR prevents diet-induced or genetic obesity and accelerates liver carcinogenesis under diabetic conditions.
Project description:Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonism is emerging as an important potential therapeutic mechanism of action for multiple chronic liver diseases. The bile acid-derived FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) has shown promise in a phase 2 study in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Here, we report efficacy of the novel nonbile acid FXR agonist tropifexor (LJN452) in two distinct preclinical models of NASH. The efficacy of tropifexor at <1 mg/kg doses was superior to that of OCA at 25 mg/kg in the liver in both NASH models. In a chemical and dietary model of NASH (Stelic animal model [STAM]), tropifexor reversed established fibrosis and reduced the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score and hepatic triglycerides. In an insulin-resistant obese NASH model (amylin liver NASH model [AMLN]), tropifexor markedly reduced steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and profibrogenic gene expression. Transcriptome analysis of livers from AMLN mice revealed 461 differentially expressed genes following tropifexor treatment that included a combination of signatures associated with reduction of oxidative stress, fibrogenesis, and inflammation. Conclusion: Based on preclinical validation in animal models, tropifexor is a promising investigational therapy that is currently under phase 2 development for NASH.
Project description:Pharmacological treatments for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are still unsatisfactory. Fibrosis is the most significant predictor of mortality and many anti-fibrotic agents are under evaluation. Herein, we assessed in vitro the effects of the FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) and the dual FXR/TGR5 agonist INT-767 in a well-established co-culture NASH model. Co-cultures of human hepatoma and hepatic stellate (HSCs) cells were exposed to free fatty acids (FFAs) alone or in combination with OCA or INT-767. mRNA expression of HSCs activation markers and FXR engagement were evaluated at 24, 96 and 144?hours. Collagen deposition and metalloproteinase 2 and 9 (MMP2-9) activity were compared to tropifexor and selonsertib. FFAs induced collagen deposition and MMP2-9 activity reduction. Co-treatment with OCA or INT-767 did not affect ACTA2 and COL1A1 expression, but significantly reduced FXR and induced SHP expression, as expected. OCA induced a dose-dependent reduction of collagen and induced MMP2-9 activity. Similarly, INT-767 induced collagen reduction at 96?h and a slight increase in MMP2-9. Tropifexor and Selonsertib were also effective in collagen reduction but showed no modulation of MMP2-9. All tested compounds reduced collagen deposition. OCA exerted a more potent and long-lasting effect, mainly related to modulation of collagen turn-over and MMP2-9 activity.
Project description:Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an emerging health crisis with no approved therapies. Obeticholic acid (OCA), a farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonist, shows promise in NASH trials. However, the precise mechanisms mediating OCA effects and impact on cholesterol metabolism are not fully understood. We explored the pharmaco-toxicological effects of OCA on patho-physiological pathways in hepatocytes using a previously described perfused organotypic liver system that allows culture in near-physiological insulin/glucose milieus, and exhibits drug responses at clinically-relevant concentrations. Primary hepatocytes experienced 48-hour exposure to OCA at concentrations approximating therapeutic (0.5?M) and supratherapeutic (10?M) levels. Global transcriptomics by RNAseq was complimented by cellular viability (MTT), CYP activity assays, and secreted FGF19 levels in the media. Dose-dependent, transcriptional effects suggested suppression of bile acid synthesis (?CYP7A1, ?CYP27A1) and increased bile efflux (?ABCB4, ?ABCB11, ?OSTA, ?OSTB). Pleiotropic effects included suppression of TGF? and IL-6 signaling pathways, and signatures suggestive of HDL suppression (?SCARB1, ?ApoAI, ?LCAT) and LDL elevation (?ApoB, ?CYP7A1). OCA exhibited direct FXR-mediated effects with increased FGF19 secretion. Transcriptomics revealed regulation of metabolic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic pathways beneficial in NASH, and predicted cholesterol profiles consistent with clinical findings. Follow-up studies under lipotoxic/inflammatory conditions would corroborate these effects in a disease-relevant environment.