A WISP1 antibody inhibits MRTF signaling to prevent the progression of established liver fibrosis
pubmed: wnt1 2022-11-24
Cell Metab. 2022 Sep 6;34(9):1377-1393.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2022.07.009. Epub 2022 Aug 19.
Fibrosis is the major risk factor associated with morbidity and mortality in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-driven chronic liver disease. Although numerous efforts have been made to identify the mediators of the initiation of liver fibrosis, the molecular underpinnings of fibrosis progression remain poorly understood, and therapies to arrest liver fibrosis progression are elusive. Here, we identify a pathway involving WNT1-inducible signaling pathway protein 1 (WISP1) and myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF) as a central mechanism driving liver fibrosis progression through the integrin-dependent transcriptional reprogramming of myofibroblast cytoskeleton and motility. In mice, WISP1 deficiency protects against fibrosis progression, but not fibrosis onset. Moreover, the therapeutic administration of a novel antibody blocking WISP1 halted the progression of existing liver fibrosis in NASH models. These findings implicate the WISP1-MRTF axis as a crucial determinant of liver fibrosis progression and support targeting this pathway by antibody-based therapy for the treatment of NASH fibrosis.