A type IV Autotaxin inhibitor ameliorates acute liver injury and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

EMBO Mol Med. 2022 Sep 7;14(9):e16333. doi: 10.15252/emmm.202216333. Epub 2022 Jul 14.


The lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) signaling axis is an important but rather underexplored pathway in liver disease. LPA is predominantly produced by Autotaxin (ATX) that has gained significant attention with an impressive number of ATX inhibitors (type I-IV) reported. Here, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of a (yet unexplored) type IV inhibitor, Cpd17, in liver injury. We first confirmed the involvement of the ATX-LPA signaling axis in human and murine diseased livers. Then, we evaluated the effects of Cpd17, in comparison with the classic type I inhibitor PF8380, in vitro, where Cpd17 showed higher efficacy. Thereafter, we characterized the mechanism-of-action of both inhibitors and found that Cpd17 was more potent in inhibiting RhoA-mediated cytoskeletal remodeling, and phosphorylation of MAPK/ERK and AKT/PKB. Finally, the therapeutic potential of Cpd17 was investigated in CCl4 -induced acute liver injury and diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, demonstrating an excellent potential of Cpd17 in reducing liver injury in both disease models in vivo. We conclude that ATX inhibition, by type IV inhibitor in particular, has an excellent potential for clinical application in liver diseases.

Keywords: Autotaxin-lysophosphatidic acid (ATX-LPA) axis; fibrosis; inflammation; liver disease; signaling pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids
  • Mice
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / drug therapy
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction


  • Lysophospholipids
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases