Inhibition of Phosphoglycerate Dehydrogenase Attenuates Bleomycin-induced Pulmonary Fibrosis

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Organ fibrosis, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Because currently available therapies have limited effect, there is a need to better understand the mechanisms by which organ fibrosis occurs. We have recently reported that transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, a key cytokine that promotes fibrogenesis, induces the expression of the enzymes of the de novo serine and glycine synthesis pathway in human lung fibroblasts, and that phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH; the first and rate-limiting enzyme of the pathway) is required to promote collagen protein synthesis downstream of TGF-β. In this study, we investigated whether inhibition of de novo serine and glycine synthesis attenuates lung fibrosis in vivo. We found that TGF-β induces mRNA and protein expression of PHGDH in murine fibroblasts. Similarly, intratracheal administration of bleomycin resulted in increased expression of PHGDH in mouse lungs, localized to fibrotic regions. Using a newly developed small molecule inhibitor of PHGDH (NCT-503), we tested whether pharmacologic inhibition of PHGDH could inhibit fibrogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of murine and human lung fibroblasts with NCT-503 decreased TGF-β-induced collagen protein synthesis. Mice treated with the PHGDH inhibitor beginning 7 days after intratracheal instillation of bleomycin had attenuation of lung fibrosis. These results indicate that the de novo serine and glycine synthesis pathway is necessary for TGF-β-induced collagen synthesis and bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis. PHGDH and other enzymes in the de novo serine and glycine synthesis pathway may be a therapeutic target for treatment of fibrotic diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

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