Galunisertib Exerts Antifibrotic Effects on TGF-β-Induced Fibroproliferative Dermal Fibroblasts

Joshua M. Peterson, Jayson W. Jay, Ye Wang, Alejandro A. Joglar, Anesh Prasai, Alen Palackic, Steven E. Wolf, Amina El Ayadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dermal fibroblasts in pathological scars secrete constitutively elevated levels of TGFβ, signaling the transcription of fibrotic genes via activin-like kinase 5 (ALK5). In the present study, we examine the antifibrotic effects of galunisertib, a small-molecule inhibitor of ALK5, on fibroproliferative dermal fibroblasts in an in vitro model of wound healing. We induced fibrosis in human dermal fibroblasts with exogenous TGF-β and performed cellular proliferation assays after treatment with varying concentrations of galunisertib. Dermal fibroblast proliferation was diminished to homeostatic levels without cytotoxicity at concentrations as high as 10 µM. An in vitro scratch assay revealed that galunisertib significantly enhanced cellular migration and in vitro wound closure beginning 24 h post-injury. A gene expression analysis demonstrated a significant attenuation of fibrotic gene expression, including collagen-1a, alpha-smooth muscle actin, fibronectin, and connective tissue growth factor, with increased expression of the antifibrotic genes MMP1 and decorin. Protein synthesis assays confirmed drug activity and corroborated the transcription findings. In summary, galunisertib simultaneously exerts antifibrotic effects on dermal fibroblasts while enhancing rates of in vitro wound closure. Galunisertib has already completed phase II clinical trials for cancer therapy with minimal adverse effects and is a promising candidate for the treatment and prevention of pathological cutaneous scars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6689
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • ALK5
  • TGF-β inhibition
  • fibrosis
  • injury
  • myofibroblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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