Novel mechanisms for the antifibrotic action of nintedanib

Academic Article


  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease with relentless course and limited therapeutic options. Nintedanib (BIBF-1120) is a multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitor recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of IPF. The precise antifibrotic mechanism(s) of action of nintedanib, however, is not known. Therefore, we studied the effects of nintedanib on fibroblasts isolated from the lungs of patients with IPF. Protein and gene expression of profibrotic markers were assessed by Western immunoblotting and real-time PCR. Autophagy markers and signaling events were monitored by biochemical assays, Western immunoblotting, microscopy, and immunofluorescence staining. Silencing of autophagy effector proteins was achieved with small interfering RNAs. Nintedanib down-regulated protein and mRNA expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, fibronectin, and collagen 1a1 while inhibiting transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1-induced myofibroblast differentiation. Nintedanib also induced beclin-1-dependent, ATG7-independent autophagy. Nintedanib's ECM-suppressive actions were not mediated by canonical autophagy. Nintedanib inhibited early events in TGF-β signaling, specifically tyrosine phosphorylation of the type II TGF-β receptor, activation of SMAD3, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Nintedanib down-regulates ECM production and induces noncanonical autophagy in IPF fibroblasts while inhibiting TGF-β signaling. These mechanisms appear to be uncoupled and function independently to mediate its putative antifibrotic effects.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rangarajan S; Kurundkar A; Kurundkar D; Bernard K; Sanders YY; Ding Q; Antony VB; Zhang J; Zmijewski J; Thannickal VJ
  • Start Page

  • 51
  • End Page

  • 59
  • Volume

  • 54
  • Issue

  • 1