Anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects of modafinil in nonalcoholic liver disease

Shinkyu Choi, Ji Aee Kim, Haiyan Li, Seong Eun Jo, Huisu Lee, Tae Hun Kim, Minje Kim, Seong Jin Kim, Suk Hyo Suh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Small- and intermediate-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels, KCa2.3 and KCa3.1, are involved in cellular signaling processes associated with inflammation and fibrosis. KCa2.3 and KCa3.1 are upregulated by proinflammatory cytokines and profibrotic growth factors. Cyclic AMP, which downregulates KCa2.3 and KCa3.1, is elevated by modafinil in cells; accordingly, we investigated whether modafinil exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic responses via KCa2.3- and KCa3.1-mediated pathways in high-fat diet (HFD)- or thioacetamide-induced liver disease models in mice. Modafinil was administered orally in the form of a racemate, (R)-isomer, or (S)-isomer. We also determined whether the treatment targeted the profibrotic activity of hepatic stellate cells using immortalized human hepatic stellate cells (LX-2 cells). Modafinil improved HFD- or thioacetamide-induced changes compared to the control, leading to a reduced inflammatory response, collagen deposition, and α-smooth muscle actin expression both in vivo and in vitro. However, modafinil did not relieve HFD-induced steatosis. There were no significant differences in the effects of the (R)- and (S)-isomers of modafinil. KCa2.3 and KCa3.1 were upregulated and catalase was downregulated in liver tissues from thioacetamide- or HFD-induced liver disease models or in TGF-β-treated LX-2 cells. TGF-β-induced upregulation of KCa2.3, KCa3.1, collagen, and α-smooth muscle actin and downregulation of catalase were reversed by modafinil, polyethylene glycol catalase, N-acetylcysteine, siRNA against KCa2.3 or KCa3.1, and Epac inhibitors. Our investigation revealed that modafinil attenuated inflammatory and fibrotic progression via KCa2.3- and KCa3.1-mediated pathways in nonalcoholic hepatitis, suggesting that inhibiting KCa2.3- and KCa3.1-mediated signaling may serve as a novel therapeutic approach for inflammatory and fibrotic liver diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112372
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government ( MSIT ) ( 2018R1A2B3003815 ), NRF grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) ( 2019R1I1A1A01055716 ), a grant of the Korea Health Technology Research and Development Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare ( HI17C0774 ), Republic of Korea and intramural research promotion grants from Ewha Womans University, School of Medicine .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Fibrosis
  • Inflammation
  • K2.3 and K3.1
  • Liver disease
  • Modafinil


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