Attenuation of early liver fibrosis by pharmacological inhibition of smoothened receptor signaling

Akshay Pratap, Saurabh Singh, Vaibhav Mundra, Ningning Yang, Ravikiran Panakanti, James D. Eason, Ram I. Mahato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is involved in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. It has been previously shown that Hh-inhibitor cyclopamine (CYA) can reduce liver fibrosis in rats. However, CYA is not stable in vivo, which limits its clinical application. This study compares the antifibrotic potential of two known Hh antagonists, vismodegib (GDC-0449, abbreviated to GDC) and CYA. GDC is a synthetic molecule presently in clinical cancer trials and has been reported to be safe and efficacious. These drugs attenuated early liver fibrosis in common bile duct ligated rats, improved liver function, and prevented hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation, thereby suppressing epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). While both CYA and GDC increased the number of proliferating cell nuclear antigen positive liver cells in vivo, only CYA increased Caspase-3 expression in HSCs in rat livers, suggesting that while GDC and CYA effectively attenuate early liver fibrosis, their hepatoprotective effects may be mediated through different modes of action. Thus, GDC has the potential to serve as a new therapeutic agent for treating early liver fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-782
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Drug Targeting
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyclopamine
  • GDC 0049
  • Hedgehog signaling
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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