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Role of aramchol in steatohepatitis and fibrosis in mice

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Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the advanced form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which sets the stage for further liver damage. The mechanism for the progression of NASH involves multiple parallel hits including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation and others. Manipulation of any of these pathways may be an approach to prevent NASH development and progression. Aramchol (arachidyl-amido cholanoic acid) is presently in a phase IIb NASH study. The aim of this study was to investigate Aramchol's mechanism of action and its effect on fibrosis using the methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet model of NASH. We collected liver and serum from mice fed a MCD diet containing 0.1% methionine (0.1MCD) for four weeks, which developed steatohepatitis and fibrosis, as well as mice receiving a control diet; the metabolomes and proteomes were determined. 0.1MCD fed mice were given Aramchol (5mg/kg/day for the last 2 weeks); liver samples were analyzed histologically. Aramchol administration reduced features of steatohepatitis and fibrosis in 0.1MCD fed mice. Aramchol downregulated stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1), a key enzyme involved in triglyceride biosynthesis whose loss enhances fatty acid β-oxidation. Aramchol increased the flux through the transsulfuration pathway, leading to a rise in glutathione (GSH) and GSH/GSSG ratio, the main cellular antioxidant that maintains intracellular redox status. Comparison of serum metabolomic pattern between 0.1MCD fed mice and NAFLD patients showed a substantial overlap.


Aramchol treatment improved steatohepatitis and fibrosis by 1) decreasing SCD1, and 2) increasing the flux through the transsulfuration pathway maintaining cellular redox homeostasis. We also demonstrated that the 0.1MCD model resembles the metabolic phenotype observed in about 50% of NAFLD patients, which supports the potential use of Aramchol in NASH treatment.

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