2020 Volume 63 Issue 1 Pages 79-87
Background Liver fibrosis progresses to decompensated liver cirrhosis, for which medical needs remain unmet. We recently developed IC-2, a small-molecule compound that suppresses Wnt/β-catenin signaling, and found that IC-2 also suppresses liver fibrosis. In this study, we performed three-step screening of newly synthesized IC-2 derivatives to identify other small-molecule compounds that suppress liver fibrosis.
Methods The screening system consisted of three steps: a cell viability assay, a transcription factor 4 (TCF4) reporter assay, and induction of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and collagen 1α1 (Col1A1) expression in response to each compound. Screening using human LX-2 hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) was performed to target HSCs, which are the driver cells of liver fibrosis.
Results In the first step, since 9b and 9b-CONH2 at 100 μM did not have any effects on cell viability, they were omitted in the next screening. Additionally, the conditions that led to > 40% inhibition of the controls were also excluded in subsequent screening. The second step was performed under 31 conditions for 19 small-molecule compounds. Sixteen small-molecule compounds caused significant reduction of TCF4 activity relative to that of 0.1% DMSO. Of the 16 compounds, the 10 showing the greatest suppression of TCF4 activity were selected for the third step. Expressions of mRNA for α-SMA and Col1A1 were significantly reduced by seven and three small-molecule compounds, respectively. The greatest reductions in the α-SMA and Col1A1 mRNA expressions were observed in the cells treated with IC-2-F. Protein expressions of α-SMA and Col1A1 caused by IC-2-F were also comparable to those caused by IC-2.
Conclusion IC-2-F was identified as a novel deactivating small-molecule compound for HSCs in vitro. These data suggest that IC-2-F is a promising medicine for liver fibrosis.