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FASEB J. 2005 Jan;19(1):136-8. Epub 2004 Nov 2.

A high-fat diet leads to the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in obese rats.

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Department of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Fatty livers of obese fa/fa rats are vulnerable to injury when challenged by insults such as endotoxin, ischemia-reperfusion or acute ethanol treatment. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether a high-fat diet can act as a "second hit" and cause progression to liver injury in obese fa/fa rats compared with lean Fa/? rats. Accordingly, obese fa/fa rats and their lean littermates were fed a diet low in fat (12% of total calories) or a diet with 60% calories as lard for 8 weeks. Hyperglycemia and steatohepatitis occurred in the fa/fa rats fed the high-fat diet. This was accompanied by liver injury as assessed by alanine aminotransferase, hematoxilin and eosin staining, increased TNFalpha and stellate cell-derived TGFbeta, collagen deposition, and up-regulation of alpha-smooth muscle actin. Active MMP13 decreased in fa/fa rats independently of the diet, and TIMP1 expression increased with the high-fat diet, especially in fa/fa rats. Although UCP2 expression was higher in fa/fa rats regardless of the diet, minor changes in ATP levels were observed. Oxidative stress occurred in the fa/fa rats fed the high-fat diet as lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyls were elevated, while glutathione and antioxidant enzymes were very low. Expression and activity of cytochrome P450 2E1 and xanthine oxidase activity were down-regulated in fa/fa compared with Fa/? rats, and no effect was seen by the high-fat diet. However, NADPH oxidase activity increased 2.5-fold in fa/fa rats fed with the high-fat diet. In summary, a high-fat diet induces liver injury in fa/fa rats leading to periportal fibrosis. A role for oxidative stress is suggested via increased NADPH oxidase activity, lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyl formation, and low antioxidant defense.

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