Inhibitory effect of dicationic diphenylfurans on production of type I collagen by human fibroblasts and activated hepatic stellate cells

Lela Stefanovic, Chad E. Stephens, David Boykin, Branko Stefanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Excessive production of extracellular matrix is responsible for clinical manifestations of fibroproliferative disorders and drugs which can inhibit excessive synthesis of type I collagen are needed for the therapy. Several dicationic diphenylfurans were synthesized and were found to bind RNA. Two of these type compounds were able to reduce synthesis of type I collagen by human fibroblasts and human activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Activated HSCs are responsible for collagen production in liver fibrosis. When added at 40 μM compound 588 reduced intracellular level and secretion of procollagen α1(I) by 50%, while compound 654 reduced these parameters by more than 80% at 20 μM. 654 also significantly reduced secretion of fibronectin. Toxic effects were observed at 80 μM for 588 and 40 μM for 654. 654 reduced expression of a reporter gene with collagen signal peptide, while expression of the same gene without signal peptide was unaffected. Also, expression of intracellular proteins tubulin and calnexin was unchanged. 654 accumulated inside the cell in the cytoplasm and did not change the steady-state level of collagen mRNAs. Treatment of cells with proteosome inhibitor MG132 did not change the inhibitory effect of 654, suggesting that 654 acts as suppressor of translation of proteins containing a signal peptide. Most secreted proteins of fibroblasts and activated HSCs are components of extracellular matrix. Therefore inhibition of their production, as shown here for procollagen α1(I) and fibronectin, may be a useful property of some of diphenylfurans, making these compounds a basis for development of antifibrotic drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2026
Number of pages16
JournalLife sciences
Issue number17
StatePublished - Mar 11 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Collagen type I
  • Diphenylfurans
  • Hepatic stellate cells
  • Inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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