The American journal of pathology

A Newly Discovered Antifibrotic Pathway Regulated by Two Fatty Acid Receptors: GPR40 and GPR84.

PMID 29454750


Numerous clinical conditions can lead to organ fibrosis and functional failure. There is a great need for therapies that could effectively target pathophysiological pathways involved in fibrosis. GPR40 and GPR84 are G protein-coupled receptors with free fatty acid ligands and are associated with metabolic and inflammatory disorders. Although GPR40 and GPR84 are involved in diverse physiological processes, no evidence has demonstrated the relevance of GPR40 and GPR84 in fibrosis pathways. Using PBI-4050 (3-pentylbenzeneacetic acid sodium salt), a synthetic analog of a medium-chain fatty acid that displays agonist and antagonist ligand affinity toward GPR40 and GPR84, respectively, we uncovered an antifibrotic pathway involving these receptors. In experiments using Gpr40- and Gpr84-knockout mice in models of kidney fibrosis (unilateral ureteral obstruction, long-term post-acute ischemic injury, and adenine-induced chronic kidney disease), we found that GPR40 is protective and GPR84 is deleterious in these diseases. Moreover, through binding to GPR40 and GPR84, PBI-4050 significantly attenuated fibrosis in many injury contexts, as evidenced by the antifibrotic activity observed in kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, and skin fibrosis models. Therefore, GPR40 and GPR84 may represent promising molecular targets in fibrosis pathways. We conclude that PBI-4050 is a first-in-class compound that may be effective for managing inflammatory and fibrosis-related diseases.