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The Cell-Permeable Derivative of the Immunoregulatory Metabolite Itaconate, 4-Octyl Itaconate, Is Anti-Fibrotic in Systemic Sclerosis

Henderson, John and Dayalan Naidu, Sharadha and Dinkova-Kostova, Albena T. and Przyborski, Stefan and Stratton, Richard and O′Reilly, Steven (2021) 'The Cell-Permeable Derivative of the Immunoregulatory Metabolite Itaconate, 4-Octyl Itaconate, Is Anti-Fibrotic in Systemic Sclerosis.', Cells, 10 (8).


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune connective tissue disease that leads to skin fibrosis. Altered metabolism has recently been described in autoimmune diseases and SSc. Itaconate is a product of the Krebs cycle intermediate cis-aconitate and is an immunomodulator. This work examines the role of the cell-permeable derivative of itaconate, 4-octyl itaconate (4-OI), in SSc. SSc and healthy dermal fibroblasts were exposed to 4-OI. The levels of collagen Nrf2-target genes and pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 (IL-6) and monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) were determined. Levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as well as the gene expression of collagen and Cellular Communication Network Factor 2 (CCN2) were measured after transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) stimulation in the presence or absence of 4-OI. Wild-type or Nrf2-knockout (Nrf2-KO) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were also treated with 4-OI to determine the role of Nrf2 in 4-OI-mediated effects. 4-OI reduced the levels of collagen in SSc dermal fibroblasts. Incubation with 4-OI led to activation of Nrf2 and its target genes heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1). 4-OI activated antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent gene expression, reduced inflammatory cytokine release and reduced TGF-β1-induced collagen and ROS production in dermal fibroblasts. The effects of 4-OI are dependent on Nrf2. The cell-permeable derivative of itaconate 4-OI is anti-fibrotic through upregulation of Nrf2 and could be a potential therapeutic option in an intractable disease.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:06 August 2021
Date deposited:25 January 2022
Date of first online publication:10 August 2021
Date first made open access:25 January 2022

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