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New potential treatment of cardiac fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction

Commented by Wolfgang A. Linke

Basic Science - Cardiac Diseases - Drugs, Drug Targets

Cardiac fibrosis is a major determinant of clinical outcome of many HF patients, as well as a therapeutic target of high interest and importance.1,2 Although some state of the art medications may improve fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction, currently no therapeutic strategy is available that is specifically designed to target fibroblasts, the effector cells of fibrosis in the heart.3 In a new paper, a consortium led by researchers from Hannover Medical School (Germany) reports a natural-derived substance library screen in human cardiac fibroblasts to search for novel anti-fibrotic, cardioprotective lead compounds, aiming for further development into new anti-fibrotic therapeutics. The authors find that a number of natural compounds show highly potent anti-fibrotic effects in vitro and in vivo and improve diastolic function in models of heart failure. Specifically, they demonstrate cardioprotective, anti-fibrotic effects of the steroid bufalin (from Chinese toad venom) and the alkaloid lycorine (from Amaryllidaceae species) with a promising safety-tolerability profile. The study may set the ground for prospective preclinical and clinical studies with the aim to specifically treat cardiac fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction.


  1. Kong P, Christia P, Frangogiannis NG. The pathogenesis of cardiac fibrosis. Cell Mol Life Sci. 71, 549-574 (2014).
  2. Braunwald E. Heart failure. JACC Heart Fail. 1, 1-20 (2013).
  3. Heymans S, Gonzales A, Pizard A, Papageorgiou AP, Lopez-Andres N, Jaisser F, Thum T, Zannad F, Diez J. Searching for new mechanisms of myocardial fibrosis with diagnostic and/or therapeutic potential. Eur J Heart Fail. 17, 764-771 (2015).
The content of this article reflects the personal opinion of the author/s and is not necessarily the official position of the European Society of Cardiology.