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Dual targeting of hepatic fibrosis and atherogenesis by icosabutate, an engineered eicosapentaenoic acid derivative.

  • Stokman, Geurt1
  • van den Hoek, Anita M1
  • Denker Thorbekk, Ditte2
  • Pieterman, Elsbet J1
  • Veidal, Sanne Skovgård2
  • Basta, Brittany3
  • Iruarrizaga-Lejarreta, Marta4
  • van der Hoorn, José W1
  • Verschuren, Lars5
  • Berbée, Jimmy F P6
  • Rensen, Patrick C N6
  • Skjaeret, Tore7
  • Alonso, Cristina4
  • Feigh, Michael2
  • Kastelein, John J P8
  • Friedman, Scott L3
  • Princen, Hans M G1
  • Fraser, David A7
  • 1 TNO Metabolic Health Research, Leiden, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 2 Gubra, Hørsholm, Denmark. , (Denmark)
  • 3 Division of Liver Diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, 10029, USA.
  • 4 OWL Metabolomics, Parque Tecnológico de Bizkaia, Derio, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 5 TNO Microbiology & Systems Biology, Zeist, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 6 Dept. of Medicine, Div. of Endocrinology, Einthoven Laboratory for Experimental Vascular Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 7 NorthSea Therapeutics BV, Naarden, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 8 Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
Published Article
Liver international : official journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver
Publication Date
Aug 25, 2020
DOI: 10.1111/liv.14643
PMID: 32841505


Whilst fibrosis stage predicts liver-associated mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the major overall cause of mortality in patients with NASH. Novel NASH drugs should thus ideally reduce both liver fibrosis and CVD. Icosabutate is a semi-synthetic, liver-targeted eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) derivative in clinical development for NASH. The primary aims of the current studies were to establish both the anti-fibrotic and anti-atherogenic efficacy of icosabutate in conjunction with changes in lipotoxic and atherogenic lipids in liver and plasma respectively. The effects of icosabutate on fibrosis progression and lipotoxicity were investigated in AMLN diet (high fat, cholesterol and fructose) fed ob/ob mice with biopsy-confirmed steatohepatitis and fibrosis and compared with the activity of obeticholic acid. APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice, a translational model for hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis, were used to evaluate the mechanisms underlying the lipid-lowering effect of icosabutate and its effect on atherosclerosis. In AMLN ob/ob mice, icosabutate significantly reduced hepatic fibrosis and myofibroblast content in association with down-regulation of the arachidonic acid cascade and reduced hepatic oxidised phospholipids and apoptosis. In APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice, icosabutate reduced plasma cholesterol and TAG levels via increased hepatic uptake, upregulated hepatic lipid metabolism and down-regulated inflammation pathways, and effectively decreased atherosclerosis development. Icosabutate, a structurally-engineered EPA derivative, effectively attenuates both hepatic fibrosis and atherogenesis and offers an attractive therapeutic approach to both liver- and CV-related morbidity and mortality in NASH patients. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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