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A combination of pirfenidone and TGF-β inhibition mitigates cystic echinococcosis-associated hepatic injury

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2021

Erqiang Wang
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China Department of Hunan Children's Research Institute, Hunan Children's Hospital, Changsha, China
Zhenyu Liao
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Lianghai Wang
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Yuan Liao
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Xiaodan Xu
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Ping Liu
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Xian Wang
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Jun Hou
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Huijiao Jiang
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Xiangwei Wu*
Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Xueling Chen*
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, 832002, China
Author for correspondence: Xueling Chen, E-mail:; Xiangwei Wu, E-mail:
Author for correspondence: Xueling Chen, E-mail:; Xiangwei Wu, E-mail:


Cystic echinococcosis (CE) occurs in the intermediate host's liver, assuming a bladder-like structure surrounded by the host-derived collagen capsule mainly derived from activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). However, the effect of CE on liver natural killer (NK) cells and the potential of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signalling inhibition on alleviating CE-related liver damage remain to be explored. Here, by using the CE-mouse model, we revealed that the inhibitory receptors on the surface of liver NK cells were up-regulated, whereas the activating receptors were down-regulated over time. TGF-β1 secretion was elevated in liver tissues and mainly derived from macrophages. A combination of TGF-β signalling inhibitors SB525334 and pirfenidone could reduce the expression of TGF-β1 signalling pathway-related proteins and collagen production. Based on the secretion of TGF-β1, only the pirfenidone group showed a depressing effect. Also, the combination of SB525334 and pirfenidone exhibited a higher potential in effectively alleviating the senescence of the hepatocytes and restoring liver function. Together, TGF-β1 may be a potential target for the treatment of CE-associated liver fibrosis.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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These authors contributed equally to this work.


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