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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2002 Feb;34(1):67-79.

Iron-induced oxidant stress in nonparenchymal liver cells: mitochondrial derangement and fibrosis in acutely iron-dosed gerbils and its prevention by silybin.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Sezione di Patologia Generale, Università di Modena, Italy.


Hepatic fibrosis due to iron overload is mediated by oxidant stress. The basic mechanisms underlying this process in vivo are still little understood. Acutely iron-dosed gerbils were assayed for lobular accumulation of hepatic lipid peroxidation by-products, oxidant-stress gene response, mitochondrial energy-dependent functions, and fibrogenesis. Iron overload in nonparenchymal cells caused an activation of hepatic stellate cells and fibrogenesis. Oxidant-stress gene response and accumulation of malondialdehyde-protein adducts were restricted to iron-filled nonparenchymal cells, sparing nearby hepatocytes. Concomitantly, a significant rise in the mitochondrial desferrioxamine-chelatable iron pool associated with the impairment of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and the hepatic ATP decrease, was detected. Ultrastructural mitochondrial alterations were observed only in nonparenchymal cells. All biochemical and functional derangements were hindered by in vivo silybin administration which blocked completely fibrogenesis. Iron-induced oxidant stress in nonparenchymal cells appeared to bring about irreversible mitochondrial derangement associated with the onset of hepatic fibrosis.

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