Pharmacological Inhibition of CCR2/5 Signaling Prevents and Reverses Alcohol-Induced Liver Damage, Steatosis, and Inflammation in Mice

Hepatology. 2019 Mar;69(3):1105-1121. doi: 10.1002/hep.30249. Epub 2019 Feb 12.


Kupffer cell and macrophage (MØ) activation contributes to steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis in alcoholic liver disease (ALD). We found increased frequency of MØ, T cells, and expression of C-C chemokine receptor type 2 (Ccr2) and C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (Ccr5) in the livers of patients with ALD, and increased circulating chemokines, C-C chemokine ligand types 2 (CCL2), and C-C chemokine ligand types 5 (CCL5) in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. We hypothesized that inhibition of CCL2 signaling with the dual CCR2/5 inhibitor, cenicriviroc (CVC), would attenuate ALD. In a mouse model of ALD, liver injury (alanine aminotransferase [ALT]) and steatosis were prevented by CVC whether administered as "prevention" throughout the alcohol feeding or as "treatment" started after the development of ALD. Alcohol-induced increases in early liver fibrosis markers (sirius red, hydroxyproline, and collagen-1) were normalized by both modes of CVC administration. We found that prevention and treatment with CVC reversed alcohol-related increases in liver mRNA and protein expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and CCL2. CVC administration regimens prevented the increase in infiltrating MØ (F4/80lo CD11bhi ) and reduced proinflammatory Ly6Chi MØ in livers of alcohol-fed mice. CVC increased liver T-cell numbers and attenuated Il-2 expression without an effect on CD69+ or CD25+ T-cell expression. In vitro, CVC inhibited CCL2-induced increases in hepatocyte fatty acid synthase (Fasn) and adipose differentiation-related protein (Adrp), whereas it augmented acyl-coenzyme A oxidase 1 (Acox-1), proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator alpha (Pgc1α) and uncoupling protein 2 expression, suggesting mechanisms for attenuated hepatocyte steatosis. We found that CCL2 and CCL5 sensitized hepatocytes to lipopolysaccharide-induced liver injury (TNF-α, ALT, and lactate dehydrogenase release). Alcohol feeding induced apoptosis (poly ADP-ribose polymerase [PARP] and caspase-3 [CASP-3] cleavage) and pyroptosis (gasdermin D [GSDMD] cleavage) in livers, and CVC prevented both of these forms of cell death. Conclusion: Together, our data demonstrate preclinical evidence for CCR2/CCR5 inhibition with CVC as a potent intervention to ameliorate alcohol-induced steatohepatitis and liver damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Liver, Alcoholic / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Hepatitis, Alcoholic / drug therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / drug therapy
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, CCR2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists
  • Ccr2 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, CCR2