Aberrant signaling by transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and its type I (ALK5) receptor has been implicated in a number of human diseases and this pathway is considered a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Transforming growth factor-β signaling via ALK5 plays a critical role during heart development, but the role of ALK5 in the adult heart is poorly understood. In the current study, the preclinical toxicology of ALK5 inhibitors from two different chemistry scaffolds was explored. Ten-week-old female Han Wistar rats received test compounds by the oral route for three to seven days. Both compounds induced histopathologic heart valve lesions characterized by hemorrhage, inflammation, degeneration, and proliferation of valvular interstitial cells. The pathology was observed in all animals, at all doses tested, and occurred in all four heart valves. Immunohistochemical analysis of ALK5 in rat hearts revealed expression in the valves, but not in the myocardium. Compared to control animals, protein levels of ALK5 were unchanged in the heart valves of treated animals. We also observed a physeal dysplasia in the femoro-tibial joint of rats treated with ALK5 inhibitors, a finding consistent with a pharmacological effect described previously with ALK5 inhibitors. Overall, these findings suggest that TGF-β signaling via ALK5 plays a critical role in maintaining heart valve integrity.
Read more here: Anderton MJ, Mellor HR, Bell A, Sadler C, Pass M, Powell S, Steele SJ, Roberts RR, Heier A. Induction of heart valve lesions by small-molecule ALK5 inhibitors. Toxicol Pathol. 2011 Oct;39(6):916-24.