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Am J Pathol. 1998 Jan;152(1):279-87.

Two novel antifibrotics, HOE 077 and Safironil, modulate stellate cell activation in rat liver injury: differential effects in males and females.

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Liver Center and Department of Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital and University of California, San Francisco, 94143, USA.


The perisinusoidal stellate cells of the liver in an injury milieu undergo activation, acquiring a myofibroblast-like phenotype. In this state, they are the principal source of collagen and related proteins in fibrosis. The present studies evaluate the mechanism of action of two novel antifibrotic compounds, HOE 077 and Safironil, which were designed as competitive inhibitors of collagen protein synthesis. Fibrosis was induced in rats by administration of carbon tetrachloride, and activation was monitored as the level of collagen I mRNA or smooth muscle alpha-actin. Both male and female rats were studied. Stellate cell activation, rather than collagen synthesis, proved to be the target of both HOE 077 and Safironil in the intact liver. In culture, the drugs not only prevented the activation of stellate cells but also accelerated their deactivation. They were no more effective in co-cultures containing hepatocytes than in pure stellate cell cultures, indicating that metabolic conversion of HOE 077 was not required. Interestingly, the response of cells from females was greater than that of male cells, leading to the conclusion that stellate activation is sexually dimorphic. This finding may be relevant to the observation that fibrosis in chronic viral hepatitis progresses less rapidly and that hepatocellular carcinoma is less frequent in females than in males.

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