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      The multifaceted role of pirfenidone and its novel targets

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          Pirfenidone (PFD) is a molecule that exhibits antifibrotic properties in a variety of in vitro and animal models of lung, liver and renal fibrosis. These pathologies share many fibrogenic pathways with an abnormal fibrous wound-healing process; consequently, tissue repair and tissue regeneration-regulating mechanisms are altered.


          To investigate the usefulness of PFD as an antifibrotic agent in clinical and experimental models of fibrotic disease.


          There is a growing understanding of the molecular effects of PFD on the wound healing mechanism, leading to novel approaches for the management of fibrosis in lung, liver and renal tissues. Although the optimum treatment for fibrosis remains undefined, it is possible that combined therapeutic regimens that include this wide-application molecule, pirfenidone, could offer a useful treatment for fibrotic disease.

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          Most cited references 69

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          Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pirfenidone in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

          Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal disorder without an effective therapy to date. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 107 patients were prospectively evaluated for efficacy of a novel compound, pirfenidone. The difference in the change in the lowest oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry (SpO2) during a 6-minute exercise test, the primary endpoint, from baseline to 6 months was not significant between the two groups (p = 0.0722). In a prespecified subset of patients who maintained a SpO2 greater than 80% during a 6-minute exercise test at baseline, the lowest SpO2 improved during a 6-minute exercise test in the pirfenidone group at 6 and 9 months (p = 0.0069 and 0.0305, respectively). Positive treatment effect was demonstrated in secondary endpoints: (1) change in VC measurements at 9 months (p = 0.0366) and (2) episodes of acute exacerbation of IPF occurring exclusively in the placebo group during the 9 months (p = 0.0031). Significant adverse events were associated with pirfenidone; however, adherence to treatment regimen was similar between pirfenidone and placebo groups. In conclusion, treatment with pirfenidone improved VC and prevented acute exacerbation of IPF during the 9 months of follow-up. Future long-term studies are needed to clarify the overall safety and efficacy of pirfenidone in IPF.
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            Oxidative stress-related molecules and liver fibrosis.

             M Parola,  G Robino (2001)
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              Antifibrotic action of pirfenidone and prednisolone: different effects on pulmonary cytokines and growth factors in bleomycin-induced murine pulmonary fibrosis.

              Pirfenidone, a broad-spectrum antifibrotic agent, is known to have efficacy in certain fibrotic disease models, and is under clinical trials in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. We investigated the antifibrotic effect of pirfenidone, and its regulatory effect on various pulmonary cytokines, in bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis in mice at the protein level, using prednisolone as a reference agent. Pirfenidone attenuated the bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis at a minimum effective dose of 30 mg/kg/day t.i.d. from the analysis of lung hydroxyproline content. Both pirfenidone (30, 100 mg/kg/day t.i.d) and prednisolone (3, 15 mg/kg/day q.d.) suppressed lung inflammatory edema; however, prednisolone failed to suppress pulmonary fibrosis, which was significantly suppressed only by pirfenidone. Both pirfenidone and prednisolone suppressed the increase in lung interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, IL-12p40 and monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 levels induced by bleomycin. On the other hand, pirfenidone prevented the bleomycin-induced decrease in lung interferon (IFN)-gamma levels, while prednisolone had no such effect. Furthermore, pirfenidone suppressed elevation of lung basic-fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 levels, but prednisolone had no such effect. The increases in lung stroma cell derived factor (SDF)-1alpha and IL-18 were also suppressed. These findings suggest that pirfenidone exerts its antifibrotic effect through regulation of lung IFN-gamma, bFGF and TGF-beta1 levels during the development of bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice. The effect on SDF-1alpha and IL-18 levels may also be related to the antifibrotic effects of pirfenidone.

                Author and article information

                Fibrogenesis Tissue Repair
                Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair
                BioMed Central
                1 September 2010
                : 3
                : 16
                [1 ]Institute for Molecular Biology and Gene Therapy, Department of Molecular Biology and Genomics, University of Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico
                [2 ]O.P.D. Hospital Civil de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico
                Copyright ©2010 Macías-Barragán et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Molecular biology


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