Ribavirin suppresses hepatic lipogenesis through inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase inhibition: Involvement of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase-related kinases and retinoid X receptor α

Shinya Satoh, Kyoko Mori, Daichi Onomura, Youki Ueda, Hiromichi Dansako, Masao Honda, Shuichi Kaneko, Masanori Ikeda, Nobuyuki Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ribavirin (RBV) has been widely used as an antiviral reagent, specifically for patients with chronic hepatitis C. We previously demonstrated that adenosine kinase, which monophosphorylates RBV into the metabolically active form, is a key determinant for RBV sensitivity against hepatitis C virus RNA replication. However, the precise mechanism of RBV action and whether RBV affects cellular metabolism remain unclear. Analysis of liver gene expression profiles obtained from patients with advanced chronic hepatitis C treated with the combination of pegylated interferon and RBV showed that the adenosine kinase expression level tends to be lower in patients who are overweight and significantly decreases with progression to advanced fibrosis stages. In our effort to investigate whether RBV affects cellular metabolism, we found that RBV treatment under clinically achievable concentrations suppressed lipogenesis in hepatic cells. In this process, guanosine triphosphate depletion through inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase inhibition by RBV and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase-related kinases, especially microtubule affinity regulating kinase 4, were required. In addition, RBV treatment led to the down-regulation of retinoid X receptor α (RXRα), a key nuclear receptor in various metabolic processes, including lipogenesis. Moreover, we found that guanosine triphosphate depletion in cells induced the down-regulation of RXRα, which was mediated by microtubule affinity regulating kinase 4. Overexpression of RXRα attenuated the RBV action for suppression of lipogenic genes and intracellular neutral lipids, suggesting that down-regulation of RXRα was required for the suppression of lipogenesis in RBV action. Conclusion: We provide novel insights about RBV action in lipogenesis and its mechanisms involving inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase inhibition, adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase-related kinases, and down-regulation of RXRα. RBV may be a potential reagent for anticancer therapy against the active lipogenesis involved in hepatocarcinogenesis. (Hepatology Communications 2017;1:550-563).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-563
Number of pages14
JournalHepatology communications
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


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