April 22, 2020 / Stephan Eisler

Joint research paper on selective TNFR1 inhibition in NASH published in Cell Death & Disease

TNF-Receptor-1 inhibition reduces liver steatosis, hepatocellular injury and fibrosis in NAFLD mice

F. Wandrer, S. Liebig, S. Marhenke, A. Vogel, K. John, M. Manns, A. Teufel, T. Itzel, T. Longerich, O. Maier, R. Fischer, R. Kontermann, K. Pfizenmaier, K. Schulze-Osthoff, and H. Bantel. Cell Death Dis 11 (3): 212-212 (March 2020)



Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) shows an increasing prevalence and is associated with the development of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis as the major risk factors of liver-related mortality in this disease. The therapeutic possibilities are limited and restricted to life style intervention, since specific drugs for NAFLD are unavailable so far. TNFα has been implicated as a major pathogenic driver of NAFLD. TNFα-mediated liver injury occurs mainly via TNF-receptor-1 (TNFR1) signaling, whereas TNFR2 mediates protective pathways. In this study, we analyzed the therapeutic effects of a novel antibody, which selectively inhibits TNFR1 while retaining protective TNFR2 signaling in a high-fat diet (HFD) mouse model of NAFLD. Mice were fed with HFD for 32 weeks and treated with anti-TNFR1-antibody or control-antibody for the last 8 weeks. We then investigated the mechanisms of TNFR1 inhibition on liver steatosis, inflammatory liver injury, insulin resistance and fibrosis. Compared to control-antibody treatment, TNFR1 inhibition significantly reduced liver steatosis and triglyceride content, which was accompanied by reduced expression and activation of the transcription factor SREBP1 and downstream target genes of lipogenesis. Furthermore, inhibition of TNFR1 resulted in reduced activation of the MAP kinase MKK7 and its downstream target JNK, which was associated with significant improvement of insulin resistance. Apoptotic liver injury, NAFLD activity and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, as well as liver fibrosis significantly decreased by anti-TNFR1 compared to control-antibody treatment. Thus, our results suggest selective TNFR1 inhibition as a promising approach for NAFLD treatment.

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