Cellular and functional actions of tofacitinib related to the pathophysiology of hibernoma development

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Tofacitinib is an oral JAK inhibitor for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In the 2-year carcinogenicity study with tofacitinib, increased incidence of hibernoma (a neoplasm of brown adipose tissue [BAT]) was noted in female rats at ≥30 mg/kg/day (≥41x human exposure multiples). Thus, signaling pathways within BAT were investigated by measuring BAT: weight, cell proliferation biomarkers, content of basal and prolactin-induced phosphorylated Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT), and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP-1). The relationship between cardiovascular hemodynamics and plasma norepinephrine (NE) levels was also investigated. Tofacitinib administered to female rats at doses of 10, 30, or 75 mg/kg/day for 14 days increased BAT weight at 75 mg/kg/day and cell proliferation at ≥30 mg/kg/day. JAK inhibition, observed as lower pSTAT3 and pSTAT5 in BAT, was noted at ≥10 mg/kg/day, while lower activity of BAT was observed as lower UCP-1 protein at ≥30 mg/kg/day. In cultured brown adipocytes, prolactin-induced increase in pSTAT5 and pSTAT3 were inhibited by tofacitinib in a concentration-dependent manner. Tofacitinib lowered blood pressure, increased heart rate, and resulted in dose-dependent increases in circulating NE. Thus, JAK/STAT inhibition in BAT and sympathetic stimulation are two factors which might contribute to the genesis of hibernomas by tofacitinib in rats.

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