Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3β Inhibition with 9-ING-41 Attenuates the Progression of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 12;9(1):18925. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-55176-w.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive interstitial lung disease with a median survival of 3 years after diagnosis. Although the etiology of IPF is unknown, it is characterized by extensive alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis and proliferation of myofibroblasts in the lungs. While the origins of these myofibroblast appear to be diverse, fibroblast differentiation contributes to expansion of myofibroblasts and to disease progression. We found that agents that contribute to neomatrix formation and remodeling in pulmonary fibrosis (PF); TGF-β, Factor Xa, thrombin, plasmin and uPA all induced fibroblast/myofibroblast differentiation. These same mediators enhanced GSK-3β activation via phosphorylation of tyrosine-216 (p-Y216). Inhibition of GSK-3β signaling with the novel inhibitor 9-ING-41 blocked the induction of myofibroblast markers; α-SMA and Col-1 and reduced morphological changes of myofibroblast differentiation. In in vivo studies, the progression of TGF-β and bleomycin mediated PF was significantly attenuated by 9-ING-41 administered at 7 and 14 days respectively after the establishment of injury. Specifically, 9-ING-41 treatment significantly improved lung function (compliance and lung volumes; p < 0.05) of TGF-β adenovirus treated mice compared to controls. Similar results were found in mice with bleomycin-induced PF. These studies clearly show that activation of the GSK-3β signaling pathway is critical for the induction of myofibroblast differentiation in lung fibroblasts ex vivo and pulmonary fibrosis in vivo. The results offer a strong premise supporting the continued investigation of the GSK-3β signaling pathway in the control of fibroblast-myofibroblast differentiation and fibrosing lung injury. These data provide a strong rationale for extension of clinical trials of 9-ING-41 to patients with IPF.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / metabolism
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Lung / enzymology*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Maleimides / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / enzymology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • 3-(5-fluorobenzofuran-3-yl)-4-(5-methyl-5H-(1,3)dioxolo(4,5-f)indol-7-yl)-pyrrole-2,5-dione
  • Indoles
  • Maleimides
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse