Senolytics in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: Results from a first-in-human, open-label, pilot study

EBioMedicine. 2019 Feb:40:554-563. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.12.052. Epub 2019 Jan 5.


Background: Cellular senescence is a key mechanism that drives age-related diseases, but has yet to be targeted therapeutically in humans. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive, fatal cellular senescence-associated disease. Selectively ablating senescent cells using dasatinib plus quercetin (DQ) alleviates IPF-related dysfunction in bleomycin-administered mice.

Methods: A two-center, open-label study of intermittent DQ (D:100 mg/day, Q:1250 mg/day, three-days/week over three-weeks) was conducted in participants with IPF (n = 14) to evaluate feasibility of implementing a senolytic intervention. The primary endpoints were retention rates and completion rates for planned clinical assessments. Secondary endpoints were safety and change in functional and reported health measures. Associations with the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) were explored.

Findings: Fourteen patients with stable IPF were recruited. The retention rate was 100% with no DQ discontinuation; planned clinical assessments were complete in 13/14 participants. One serious adverse event was reported. Non-serious events were primarily mild-moderate, with respiratory symptoms (n = 16 total events), skin irritation/bruising (n = 14), and gastrointestinal discomfort (n = 12) being most frequent. Physical function evaluated as 6-min walk distance, 4-m gait speed, and chair-stands time was significantly and clinically-meaningfully improved (p < .05). Pulmonary function, clinical chemistries, frailty index (FI-LAB), and reported health were unchanged. DQ effects on SASP factors were inconclusive, but correlations were observed between change in function and change in SASP-related matrix-remodeling proteins, microRNAs, and pro-inflammatory cytokines (23/48 markers r ≥ 0.50).

Interpretation: Our first-in-humans open-label pilot supports study feasibility and provides initial evidence that senolytics may alleviate physical dysfunction in IPF, warranting evaluation of DQ in larger randomized controlled trials for senescence-related diseases. identifier: NCT02874989 (posted 2016-2018).

Keywords: Aging; Cellular senescence; Clinical trial; Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Interstitial lung disease; Senolytics; Translation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects*
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics
  • Dasatinib / administration & dosage
  • Dasatinib / adverse effects
  • Dasatinib / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Quercetin / administration & dosage
  • Quercetin / adverse effects
  • Quercetin / therapeutic use*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Quercetin
  • Dasatinib

Associated data