Phenylpyrrolidine structural mimics of pirfenidone lacking antifibrotic activity: A new tool for mechanism of action studies

Andrew J. Haak, Megan A. Girtman, Mohamed F. Ali, Eva M Carmona Porquera, Andrew Harold Limper, Daniel J Tschumperlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Pirfenidone recently received FDA approval as one of the first two drugs designed to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. While the clinical data continues to support the efficacy of pirfenidone, the specific molecular mechanism of action of this drug has not been fully defined. From a chemical perspective the comparatively simple and lipophilic structure of pirfenidone combined with its administration at high doses, both experimentally and clinically, complicates some of the basic tenants of drug action and drug design. Our objective here was to identify a commercially available structural mimic of pirfenidone which retains key aspects of its physical chemical properties but does not display any of its antifibrotic effects. We tested these molecules using lung fibroblasts derived from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and found phenylpyrrolidine based analogs of pirfenidone that were non-toxic and lacked antifibrotic activity even when applied at millimolar concentrations. Based on our findings, these molecules represent pharmacological tools for future studies delineating pirfenidone's mechanism of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 16 2017



  • Antifibrotic
  • Fibrosis
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Interstitial Lung Disease
  • IPF
  • P38
  • Pirfenidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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