Momelotinib inhibits ACVR1/ALK2, decreases hepcidin production, and ameliorates anemia of chronic disease in rodents

Malte Asshoff, Verena Petzer, Matthew R. Warr, David Haschka, Piotr Tymoszuk, Egon Demetz, Markus Seifert, Wilfried Posch, Manfred Nairz, Pat Maciejewski, Peter Fowles, Christopher J. Burns, Gregg Smith, Kay Uwe Wagner, Guenter Weiss, J. Andrew Whitney, Igor Theurl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Patients with myelofibrosis (MF) often develop anemia and frequently become dependent on red blood cell transfusions. Results from a phase 2 study for the treatment of MF with the Janus kinase 1/2 (JAK1/2) inhibitor momelotinib (MMB) demonstrated that MMB treatment ameliorated anemia, which was unexpected for a JAK1/2 inhibitor, because erythropoietin-mediated JAK2 signaling is essential for erythropoiesis. Using a rat model of anemia of chronic disease, we demonstrated that MMB treatment can normalize hemoglobin and red blood cell numbers. We found that this positive effect is driven by direct inhibition of the bone morphogenic protein receptor kinase activin A receptor, type I (ACVR1), and the subsequent reduction of hepatocyte hepcidin production. Of note, ruxolitinib, a JAK1/2 inhibitor approved for the treatment of MF, had no inhibitory activity on this pathway. Further, we demonstrated the effect of MMB is not mediated by direct inhibition of JAK2-mediated ferroportin (FPN1) degradation, because neither MMB treatment nor myeloid-specific deletion of JAK2 affected FPN1 expression. Our data support the hypothesis that the improvement of inflammatory anemia by MMB results from inhibition of ACVR1-mediated hepcidin expression in the liver, which leads to increased mobilization of sequestered iron from cellular stores and subsequent stimulation of erythropoiesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1823-1830
Number of pages8
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 30 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology

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