Regression of Fibrosis and Reversal of Cirrhosis in Rats by Galectin Inhibitors in Thioacetamide-Induced Liver Disease

Peter G. Traber, Hsin Chou, Eliezer Zomer, Feng Hong, Anatole Klyosov, Maria Isabel Fiel, Scott L. Friedman

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177 Scopus citations

Abstract

Galectin-3 protein is critical to the development of liver fibrosis because galectin-3 null mice have attenuated fibrosis after liver injury. Therefore, we examined the ability of novel complex carbohydrate galectin inhibitors to treat toxin-induced fibrosis and cirrhosis. Fibrosis was induced in rats by intraperitoneal injections with thioacetamide (TAA) and groups were treated with vehicle, GR-MD-02 (galactoarabino-rhamnogalaturonan) or GM-CT-01 (galactomannan). In initial experiments, 4 weeks of treatment with GR-MD-02 following completion of 8 weeks of TAA significantly reduced collagen content by almost 50% based on Sirius red staining. Rats were then exposed to more intense and longer TAA treatment, which included either GR-MD-02 or GM-CT-01 during weeks 8 through 11. TAA rats treated with vehicle developed extensive fibrosis and pathological stage 6 Ishak fibrosis, or cirrhosis. Treatment with either GR-MD-02 (90 mg/kg ip) or GM-CT-01 (180 mg/kg ip) given once weekly during weeks 8-11 led to marked reduction in fibrosis with reduction in portal and septal galectin-3 positive macrophages and reduction in portal pressure. Vehicle-treated animals had cirrhosis whereas in the treated animals the fibrosis stage was significantly reduced, with evidence of resolved or resolving cirrhosis and reduced portal inflammation and ballooning. In this model of toxin-induced liver fibrosis, treatment with two galectin protein inhibitors with different chemical compositions significantly reduced fibrosis, reversed cirrhosis, reduced galectin-3 expressing portal and septal macrophages, and reduced portal pressure. These findings suggest a potential role of these drugs in human liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere75361
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Oct 2013

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