Pilot study of the antifibrotic effects of the multikinase inhibitor pacritinib in a mouse model of liver fibrosis

Suliman Al-Fayoumi, Taishi Hashiguchi, Yuka Shirakata, John Mascarenhas, Jack W. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Fibrotic diseases result from an exuberant response to chronic inflammation. Myelofibrosis is the end result of inflammation in bone, caused by an inflammatory process triggered by production of abnormal myeloid cells driven by mutations affecting the JAK-STAT pathway. Inflammatory cytokine overproduction leads to increased mesenchymal cell proliferation, culminating in fibrosis. Although JAK2 inhibitors, such as the JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib and the JAK2/FLT3/CSF1R/IRAK1 inhibitor pacritinib suppress abnormal clone expansion in myelofibrosis, ruxolitinib does not appear to prevent or reverse bone-marrow fibrosis in most patients. In two Phase III clinical trials, pacritinib, however, demonstrated improvements in platelet counts and hemoglobin and reductions in transfusion burden in some patients with baseline cytopenias, suggesting it may improve bone-marrow function. Unlike ruxolitinib, pacritinib suppresses signaling through IRAK1, a key control point for inflammatory and fibrotic signaling. Purpose: To investigate potential antifibrotic effects of pacritinib in an animal model of liver fibrosis relevant to the observed course of human disease. Methods: Pacritinib, negative control (vehicle), and positive control (the angiotensin 2-receptor antagonist and PPARγ partial agonist telmisartan) were assessed in the murine Stelic animal model, which mimics the clinically observed progression from hepatic steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, liver fibrosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Histopathological analysis used hematoxylin and eosin staining. Body and liver weight changes, nonalcoholic fatty-liver disease activity scores, and plasma cytokeratin 18 fragment levels (a biomarker of hepatic necrosis) were measured. Results: Pacritinib-treated mice had significantly (P<0.01) reduced fibrotic areas in liver compared to vehicle control and significantly (P<0.05) lower levels of CK18. The antifibrotic effect of pacritinib was comparable to that of telmisartan, but without significant effects on fat accumulation. Conclusion: These results, the first to demonstrate hepatic antifibrotic effects for pacritinib in an animal model of liver disease, provide preliminary support for potential clinical applications of pacritinib in fibrotic diseases other than myelofibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2018


  • Colony-stimulating factor 1-receptor kinase
  • Interleukin 1 receptor-associated kinase 1
  • Janus kinase 2
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Steatosis


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