Dual targeting of hepatic fibrosis and atherogenesis by icosabutate, an engineered eicosapentaenoic acid derivative

Geurt Stokman, Anita M. van den Hoek, Ditte Denker Thorbekk, Elsbet J. Pieterman, Sanne Skovgård Veidal, Brittany Basta, Marta Iruarrizaga-Lejarreta, José W. van der Hoorn, Lars Verschuren, Jimmy F. P. Berbée, Patrick C. N. Rensen, Tore Skjæret, Cristina Alonso, Michael Feigh, John J. P. Kastelein, Scott L. Friedman, Hans M. G. Princen, David A. Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background & Aims: While fibrosis stage predicts liver-associated mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the major overall cause of mortality in patients with NASH. Novel NASH drugs should thus ideally reduce both liver fibrosis and CVD. Icosabutate is a semi-synthetic, liver-targeted eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) derivative in clinical development for NASH. The primary aims of the current studies were to establish both the anti-fibrotic and anti-atherogenic efficacy of icosabutate in conjunction with changes in lipotoxic and atherogenic lipids in liver and plasma respectively. Methods: The effects of icosabutate on fibrosis progression and lipotoxicity were investigated in amylin liver NASH (AMLN) diet (high fat, cholesterol and fructose) fed ob/ob mice with biopsy-confirmed steatohepatitis and fibrosis and compared with the activity of obeticholic acid. APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice, a translational model for hyperlipidaemia and atherosclerosis, were used to evaluate the mechanisms underlying the lipid-lowering effect of icosabutate and its effect on atherosclerosis. Results: In AMLN ob/ob mice, icosabutate significantly reduced hepatic fibrosis and myofibroblast content in association with downregulation of the arachidonic acid cascade and a reduction in both hepatic oxidised phospholipids and apoptosis. In APOE*3Leiden.CETP mice, icosabutate reduced plasma cholesterol and TAG levels via increased hepatic uptake, upregulated hepatic lipid metabolism and downregulated inflammation pathways, and effectively decreased atherosclerosis development. Conclusions: Icosabutate, a structurally engineered EPA derivative, effectively attenuates both hepatic fibrosis and atherogenesis and offers an attractive therapeutic approach to both liver- and CV-related morbidity and mortality in NASH patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2860-2876
Number of pages17
JournalLiver international
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • NASH
  • apoptosis
  • arachidonic acid
  • atherosclerosis
  • lipotoxicity
  • oxidised phospholipids

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