Network model-based screen for FDA-approved drugs affecting cardiac fibrosis

Angela C. Zeigler, Anirudha S. Chandrabhatla, Steven L. Christiansen, Anders R. Nelson, Jeffrey W. Holmes, Jeffrey J. Saucerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiac fibrosis is a significant component of pathological heart remodeling, yet it is not directly targeted by existing drugs. Systems pharmacology approaches have the potential to provide mechanistic frameworks with which to predict and understand how drugs modulate biological systems. Here, we combine network modeling of the fibroblast signaling network with 36 unique drug-target interactions from DrugBank to predict drugs that modulate fibroblast phenotype and fibrosis. Galunisertib was predicted to decrease collagen and α-SMA expression, which we validated in human cardiac fibroblasts. In vivo fibrosis data from the literature validated predictions for 10 drugs. Further, the model was used to identify network mechanisms by which these drugs work. Arsenic trioxide was predicted to induce fibrosis by AP1-driven TGFβ expression and MMP2-driven TGFβ activation. Entresto (valsartan/sacubitril) was predicted to suppress fibrosis by valsartan suppression of ERK signaling and sacubitril enhancement of PKG activity, both of which decreased Smad3 activity. Overall, this study provides a framework for integrating drug-target mechanisms with logic-based network models, which can drive further studies both in cardiac fibrosis and other conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-388
Number of pages12
JournalCPT: Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Network model-based screen for FDA-approved drugs affecting cardiac fibrosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this