A small molecule HIF-1α stabilizer that accelerates diabetic wound healing

Guodong Li, Chung Nga Ko, Dan Li, Chao Yang, Wanhe Wang, Guan Jun Yang, Carmelo Di Primo, Vincent Kam Wai Wong, Yaozu Xiang, Ligen Lin*, Dik Lung Ma*, Chung Hang Leung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


Impaired wound healing and ulcer complications are a leading cause of death in diabetic patients. In this study, we report the design and synthesis of a cyclometalated iridium(III) metal complex 1a as a stabilizer of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α). In vitro biophysical and cellular analyses demonstrate that this compound binds to Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) and inhibits the VHL–HIF-1α interaction. Furthermore, the compound accumulates HIF-1α levels in cellulo and activates HIF-1α mediated gene expression, including VEGF, GLUT1, and EPO. In in vivo mouse models, the compound significantly accelerates wound closure in both normal and diabetic mice, with a greater effect being observed in the diabetic group. We also demonstrate that HIF-1α driven genes related to wound healing (i.e. HSP-90, VEGFR-1, SDF-1, SCF, and Tie-2) are increased in the wound tissue of 1a-treated diabetic mice (including, db/db, HFD/STZ and STZ models). Our study demonstrates a small molecule stabilizer of HIF-1α as a promising therapeutic agent for wound healing, and, more importantly, validates the feasibility of treating diabetic wounds by blocking the VHL and HIF-1α interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3363
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A small molecule HIF-1α stabilizer that accelerates diabetic wound healing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this