Antioxidative Hyaluronic Acid-Bilirubin Nanomedicine Targeting Activated Hepatic Stellate Cells for Anti-Hepatic-Fibrosis Therapy

Jongyoon Shinn, Seojeong Park, Seonju Lee, Nayoon Park, Seojeong Kim, Seohui Hwang, James J. Moon, Youngjoo Kwon, Yonghyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Liver fibrosis is a life-threatening and irreversible disease. The fibrosis process is largely driven by hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which undergo transdifferentiation from an inactivated state to an activated one during persistent liver damage. This activated state is responsible for collagen deposition in liver tissue and is accompanied by increased CD44 expression on the surfaces of HSCs and amplified intracellular oxidative stress, which contributes to the fibrosis process. To address this problem, we have developed a strategy that combines CD44-targeting of activated HSCs with an antioxidative approach. We developed hyaluronic acid-bilirubin nanoparticles (HABNs), composed of endogenous bilirubin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bile acid, and hyaluronic acid, an endogenous CD44-targeting glycosaminoglycan biopolymer. Our findings demonstrate that intravenously administered HABNs effectively targeted the liver, particularly activated HSCs, in fibrotic mice with choline-deficient l-amino acid-defined high-fat diet (CD-HFD)-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). HABNs were able to inhibit HSC activation and proliferation and collagen production. Furthermore, in a murine CD-HFD-induced NASH fibrosis model, intravenously administered HABNs showed potent fibrotic modulation activity. Our study suggests that HABNs have the potential to serve as a targeted anti-hepatic-fibrosis therapy by modulating activated HSCs via CD44-targeting and antioxidant strategies. This strategy could also be applied to various ROS-related diseases in which CD44-overexpressing cells play a pivotal role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4704-4716
Number of pages13
JournalACS Nano
Issue number6
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 American Chemical Society.


  • Activated hepatic stellate cells
  • Anti-liver-fibrosis therapy
  • Antioxidative therapy
  • Bilirubin
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • NASH
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis


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