Momelotinib inhibits ACVR1/ALK2, decreases hepcidin production, and ameliorates anemia of chronic disease in rodents

Blood. 2017 Mar 30;129(13):1823-1830. doi: 10.1182/blood-2016-09-740092. Epub 2017 Feb 10.


Patients with myelofibrosis (MF) often develop anemia and frequently become dependent on red blood cell transfusions. Results from a phase 2 study for the treatment of MF with the Janus kinase 1/2 (JAK1/2) inhibitor momelotinib (MMB) demonstrated that MMB treatment ameliorated anemia, which was unexpected for a JAK1/2 inhibitor, because erythropoietin-mediated JAK2 signaling is essential for erythropoiesis. Using a rat model of anemia of chronic disease, we demonstrated that MMB treatment can normalize hemoglobin and red blood cell numbers. We found that this positive effect is driven by direct inhibition of the bone morphogenic protein receptor kinase activin A receptor, type I (ACVR1), and the subsequent reduction of hepatocyte hepcidin production. Of note, ruxolitinib, a JAK1/2 inhibitor approved for the treatment of MF, had no inhibitory activity on this pathway. Further, we demonstrated the effect of MMB is not mediated by direct inhibition of JAK2-mediated ferroportin (FPN1) degradation, because neither MMB treatment nor myeloid-specific deletion of JAK2 affected FPN1 expression. Our data support the hypothesis that the improvement of inflammatory anemia by MMB results from inhibition of ACVR1-mediated hepcidin expression in the liver, which leads to increased mobilization of sequestered iron from cellular stores and subsequent stimulation of erythropoiesis.

MeSH terms

  • Activin Receptors, Type I / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Benzamides / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type I / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hepcidins / biosynthesis*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Primary Myelofibrosis / complications
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*
  • Rats


  • Benzamides
  • Hepcidins
  • Pyrimidines
  • N-(cyanomethyl)-4-(2-((4-(4-morpholinyl)phenyl)amino)-4-pyrimidinyl)benzamide
  • Iron
  • Activin Receptors, Type I
  • Acvr1 protein, rat
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors, Type I