Anti-fibrotic effect of pirfenidone in muscle derived-fibroblasts from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients

Simona Zanotti, Cinzia Bragato, Andrea Zucchella, Lorenzo Maggi, Renato Mantegazza, Lucia Morandi, Marina Mora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims Tissue fibrosis, characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix proteins, is the end point of diseases affecting the kidney, bladder, liver, lung, gut, skin, heart and muscle. In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), connective fibrotic tissue progressively substitutes muscle fibers. So far no specific pharmacological treatment is available for muscle fibrosis. Among promising anti-fibrotic molecules, pirfenidone has shown anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory activity in animal and cell models, and has already been employed in clinical trials. Therefore we tested pirfenidone anti-fibrotic properties in an in vitro model of muscle fibrosis. Main methods We evaluated effect of pirfenidone on fibroblasts isolated from DMD muscle biopsies. These cells have been previously characterized as having a pro-fibrotic phenotype. We tested cell proliferation and migration, secretion of soluble collagens, intracellular levels of collagen type I and fibronectin, and diameter of 3D fibrotic nodules. Key findings We found that pirfenidone significantly reduced proliferation and cell migration of control and DMD muscle-derived fibroblasts, decreased extracellular secretion of soluble collagens by control and DMD fibroblasts, as well as levels of collagen type I and fibronectin, and, in DMD fibroblasts only, reduced synthesis and deposition of intracellular collagen. Furthermore, pirfenidone was able to reduce the diameter of fibrotic-nodules in our 3D model of in vitro fibrosis. Significance These pre-clinical results indicate that pirfenidone has potential anti-fibrotic effects also in skeletal muscle fibrosis, urging further studies in in vivo animal models of muscular dystrophy in order to translate the drug into the treatment of muscle fibrosis in DMD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalLife Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 2016


  • Duchenne muscle dystrophy
  • Fibrosis
  • Fibrotic nodules
  • Pirfenidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Anti-fibrotic effect of pirfenidone in muscle derived-fibroblasts from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this