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World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Dec 28;11(48):7591-6.

Hepatitis C virus infection down-regulates the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and carnitine palmitoyl acyl-CoA transferase 1A.

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  • 1Institute of Liver Diseases, Shanghai University of TCM, Shanghai 201203, China. yangcheng@myrealbox.com



To elucidate the role of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) and its target gene carnitine palmitoyl acyl-CoA transferase 1A (CPT1A) in the pathogenesis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.


Liver samples were collected from the patients with chronic HCV infection and controls. HepG2 cells were transfected with vector pEF352neo carrying. Two independent clones (clone N3 and N4) stably expressing HCV core protein were analyzed. Total RNA was extracted from cells and liver tissues. PPARalpha and CPT1A mRNAs were quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using SYBR Green Master. Total extracted proteins were separated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and electroblotted. Membranes were incubated with the anti-PPARalpha antibody, then with a swine anti-rabbit IgG conjugated to horseradish peroxidase for PPARalpha. Protein bands were revealed by an enhanced chemiluminescence reaction for PPARalpha. For immunohistochemical staining of PPARalpha, sections were incubated with the primary goat polyclonal antibody directed against PPARalpha at room temperature.


Real-time PCR indicated that the PPARalpha level and expression level of CPT1A gene in hepatitis C patients lowered significantly as compared with the controls (1.8+/-2.8 vs 13+/-3.4, P = 0.0002; 1.1+/-1.5 vs 7.4+/-1, P = 0.004). Western blot results showed that the level of PPARalpha protein in the livers of hepatitis C patients was lower than that in controls (2.3+/-0.3 vs 3.6+/-0.2, P = 0.009). The immunohistochemical staining results in chronic hepatitis C patients indicated a decrease in PPARalpha staining in hepatocytes compared with those in the control livers. The in vitro studies found that in the N3 and N4 colon stably expressing HCV core protein, the PPARalpha mRNA levels were significantly lower than that in the controls.


The impaired intrahepatic PPARalpha expression is associated with the pathogenic mechanism in hepatic injury during chronic HCV infection. HCV infection reduced the expression of PPARalpha and CPT1A at the level of not only mRNAs but also proteins. PPARalpha plays an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic HCV infection, but the impaired function of this nuclear receptor in HCV infection needs further studies.

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