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Serelaxin increases the antifibrotic action of rosiglitazone in a model of hepatic fibrosis.

ABSTRACT

To determine the effect of combined serelaxin and rosiglitazone treatment on established hepatic fibrosis.Hepatic fibrosis was induced in mice by carbon tetrachloride administration for 6 wk, or vehicle alone (nonfibrotic mice). For the final 2 wk, mice were treated with rosiglitazone, serelaxin, or both rosiglitazone and serelaxin. Serum liver enzymes and relaxin levels were determined by standard methods. The degree of liver collagen content was determined by histology and immunohistochemistry. Expression of type I collagen was determined by quantitative PCR. Activation of hepatic stellate cells was assessed by alpha-smooth muscle actin (SMA) levels. Liver peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC1α) was determined by Western blotting.Treatment of mice with CCl4 resulted in hepatic fibrosis as evidenced by increased liver enzyme levels (ALT and AST), and increased liver collagen and SMA. Monotherapy with either serelaxin or rosiglitazone for 2 wk was generally without effect. In contrast, the combination of serelaxin and rosiglitazone resulted in significantly improved ALT levels (P < 0.05). Total liver collagen content as determined by Sirius red staining revealed that only combination treatment was effective in reducing total liver collagen (P < 0.05). These results were supported by immunohistochemistry for type I collagen, in which only combination treatment reduced fibrillar collagen levels (P < 0.05). The level of hepatic stellate cell activation was modestly, but significantly, reduced by serelaxin treatment alone, but combination treatment resulted in significantly lower SMA levels. Finally, while hepatic fibrosis reduced liver PGC1α levels, the combination of serelaxin and rosiglitazone resulted in restoration of PGC1α protein levels.The combination of serelaxin and rosiglitazone treatment for 2 wk was effective in significantly reducing established hepatic fibrosis, providing a potential new treatment strategy.