Pioglitazone Reduces Hepatocellular Carcinoma Development in Two Rodent Models of Cirrhosis

Shen Li, Sarani Ghoshal, Mozhdeh Sojoodi, Gunisha Arora, Ricard Masia, Derek J. Erstad, Michael Lanuti, Yujin Hoshida, Thomas F. Baumert, Kenneth K. Tanabe, Bryan C. Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the deadliest malignancies worldwide due to the lack of effective treatments. Chemoprevention in high-risk patients is a promising, alternative strategy. In this study, pioglitazone was investigated for its ability to prevent hepatocarcinogenesis in two rodent models of cirrhosis. Methods: In the first model, male Wistar rats were given repeated, low-dose injections of diethylnitrosamine (DEN) to accurately recapitulate the progression of fibrosis to cirrhosis and HCC. In the second model, a single dose of DEN was administered to male C57Bl/6 pups at day fifteen followed by administration of a choline-deficient, L-amino acid defined, high-fat diet (CDAHFD) at week six for 24 weeks. Pioglitazone treatment started at the first signs of fibrosis in both models. Results: Pioglitazone effectively reduced fibrosis progression and HCC development in both models. Gross tumor nodules were significantly reduced after pioglitazone treatment (7.4 ± 1.6 vs. 16.6 ± 2.6 in the rat DEN model and 5.86 ± 1.82 vs. 13.2 ± 1.25 in the mouse DEN+CDAHFD model). In both models, pioglitazone reduced the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and upregulated the hepato-protective AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway via increasing circulating adiponectin production. Conclusion: Pioglitazone is an effective agent for chemoprevention in rodents and could be repurposed as a multi-targeted drug for delaying liver fibrosis and hepatocarcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019


  • AMPK
  • Chemoprevention
  • Fibrosis
  • HCC
  • NASH
  • PPARγ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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