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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jun 28;288(26):18624-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.442954. Epub 2013 May 17.

C/EBP homologous protein-induced macrophage apoptosis protects mice from steatohepatitis.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a heterogeneous disorder characterized by liver steatosis; inflammation and fibrosis are features of the progressive form nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The endoplasmic reticulum stress response is postulated to play a role in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In particular, C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) is undetectable under normal conditions but is induced by cellular stress, including endoplasmic reticulum stress. Chop wild type (Chop(+/+)) and knock-out (Chop(-/-)) mice were used in these studies to elucidate the role of CHOP in the pathogenesis of fatty liver disease. Paradoxically, Chop(-/-) mice developed greater liver injury, inflammation, and fibrosis than Chop(+/+) mice, with greater macrophage activation. Primary, bone marrow-derived, and peritoneal macrophages from Chop(+/+) and Chop(-/-) were challenged with palmitic acid, an abundant saturated free fatty acid in plasma and liver lipids. Where palmitic acid treatment activated Chop(+/+) and Chop(-/-) macrophages, Chop(-/-) macrophages were resistant to its lipotoxicity. Chop(-/-) mice were sensitized to liver injury in a second model of dietary steatohepatitis using the methionine-choline-deficient diet. Analysis of bone marrow chimeras between Chop(-/-) and Chop(+/+) mice demonstrated that Chop in macrophages protects from liver injury and inflammation when fed the methionine-choline-deficient diet. We conclude that Chop deletion has a proinflammatory effect in fatty liver injury apparently due to decreased cell death of activated macrophages, resulting in their net accumulation in the liver. Thus, macrophage CHOP plays a key role in protecting the liver from steatohepatitis likely by limiting macrophage survival during lipotoxicity.


Apoptosis; Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress; Fatty Liver; Inflammation; Liver Injury; Macrophages

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