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Pharmacological IKK2 inhibition blocks liver steatosis and initiation of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  1. N Beraza1,
  2. Y Malato1,
  3. S Vander Borght2,
  4. C Liedtke1,
  5. H E Wasmuth1,
  6. M Dreano3,
  7. R de Vos2,
  8. T Roskams2,
  9. C Trautwein1
  1. 1 Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital, RWTH Aachen, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Pathology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  3. 3 Merck-Serono International SA, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Professor C Trautwein, Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital, RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstr. 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany; ctrautwein{at}


Background: Non-alcoholic-steatohepatitis (NASH) leading to fibrosis, end-stage cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is an increasing health problem in the Western world. Thus, the need for new therapeutic approaches is increasing. IKK2 plays a key role in the development of NASH by mediating inflammation and insulin resistance.

Aim: Here the beneficial effects of a pharmacological IKK2 inhibitor (AS602868) on initial stages of NASH progression were tested.

Methods: Mice were fed with a high sucrose diet (HSD) and daily-administered AS602868 and vehicle. The impact of AS602868 on NASH progression was studied using biochemical, histological and molecular markers.

Results: AS602868 treatment prevented HSD-induced weight gain and visceral fat accumulation. In adipose tissue, AS602868-treated mice exhibited a lower degree of infiltrated macrophages along with reduced proinflammatory cytokine production. Further analysis demonstrated that AS602868 treatment efficiently inhibited nuclear factor (NF)-κB activation in liver non-parenchymal cells and as a consequence attenuated the inflammatory response in the liver. Accordingly, in HSD/AS602868 mice, liver and adipose tissue adiponectin levels remained at levels comparable with those of control chow-fed mice, while they were decreased in HSD/vehicle animals. Additionally, AS602868 improved lipid β-oxidation mediated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) α and PPARγ. Systemic pharmacological IKK2 inhibition by AS602868 treatment efficiently prevented liver steatosis and inflammation, and improved antioxidant response. All this contributed to attenuation of NASH progression as evidenced by lower hepatocyte apoptosis and early stages of liver fibrosis.

Conclusion: The data demonstrate that AS602868-mediated IKK2 inhibition represents a new therapeutic approach to prevent dietary-induced NASH progression.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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