Background: Recent data proposed a role of the citrate transporter INDY (I’m Not Dead Yet) in the development of obesity, insulin resistance and NAFLD suggesting its potential as a therapeutic target for metabolic-related disorders. The aim of our study is to determine if mammalian INDY (mINDY) inhibitors can be introduced as a new therapeutic option for NAFLD/NASH.

Methods: Six-week-old C57Bl/6N mice were fed a western diet (WD) for 18 weeks to induce NASH. After 12 weeks of feeding, mice received mINDY inhibitor (PF-06649298, mINDYi; 100 mg/kg) or vehicle bid until end of week 18. During the treatment period, body weight and composition were monitored. ipGTT and FACS analysis of liver inflammatory cells were performed.

Results: mINDYi-treated mice exhibited lower body weight, fat mass and higher lean mass compared to vehicle-treated mice. Results from ipGTT revealed improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The latter was further confirmed through increased insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation in liver, gonadal WAT and BAT. Treatment with mINDYi attenuated WD-induced hepatic injury, steatosis and inflammation as shown histologically and biochemically by reduction in plasma ALT and AST, decrease in hepatic triglyceride accumulation and reduced hepatic lymphoid and myeloid immune cell populations. Interestingly, these effects were associated with a significant rise in plasma and hepatic Fgf21 together with increased hepatic phosphorylation of LKB1 and AMPK and decreased mTOR. Results from primary mouse hepatocytes revealed that mINDYi-induction of Fgf21 is partially dependent on AMPK activation.

Conclusion: Our study shows for the first time that mINDYi attenuates diet-induced steatohepatitis; offering a promising novel treatment strategy for NAFLD. Further investigations are currently ongoing to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying mINDY inhibition and whether it is dependent on Fgf21-AMPK signaling.


N.El-agroudy: None. G.Zahn: Employee; Eternygen GmbH. C.Herrmann: None. G.Mingrone: Advisory Panel; Fractyl Health, Inc., Novo Nordisk, Consultant; ReCor Medical, Inc. T.C.Alves: None. A.L.Birkenfeld: None.

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