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Abstract

Acute liver failure (ALF) is a rare syndrome with a difficult clinical management and a high mortality rate. During ALF, several molecular pathways governing oxidative stress and apoptosis are activated to induce massive tissue injury and suppress cell proliferation. There are few anti-ALF drug candidates, among which is the C-type lectin Reg3α, or human hepatocarcinoma-intestine-pancreas/pancreatitis-associated protein (HIP/PAP), which displayed promising properties for tissue regeneration and protection against cellular stress in transgenic mice. We report on substantial preclinical and clinical advances in the development of a recombinant (rc) full-length human HIP/PAP protein as an anti-ALF drug. The curative effects and mechanisms of action of rcHIP/PAP were investigated in murine Fas-induced ALF. Primary hepatocytes were cultured with cytotoxic doses of tumor necrosis factor α/actinomycin-D, transforming growth factor β, agonistic Fas antibody or hydrogen peroxide, and various concentrations of rcHIP/PAP. Cell viability, proliferation index, apoptosis, and oxidation were monitored. We found that rcHIP/PAP significantly improved survival in Fas-intoxicated mice in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner, with optimum effects when it was injected at advanced stages of ALF. Primary hepatocytes were efficiently protected against multiple cell death signals by rcHIP/PAP. This survival benefit was linked to a depletion of oxidized biomolecules in injured liver cells due to a strong reactive oxygen species scavenging activity of rcHIP/PAP. Clinically, an escalating dose phase 1 trial demonstrated a good tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile of rcHIP/PAP in healthy subjects. Conclusion: The rcHIP/PAP protein exhibited significant curative properties against ALF in mice. It is a free-radical scavenger that targets a broad spectrum of death effectors and favors liver regeneration. The good safety profile of rcHIP/PAP during a phase 1 trial encourages evaluation of its efficacy in patients with ALF. (HEPATOLOGY 2011:53:618-627)