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Gastroenterology. 2005 Nov;129(5):1663-74.

NF-kappaB activation, rather than TNF, mediates hepatic inflammation in a murine dietary model of steatohepatitis.

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Storr Liver Unit, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



We explored the roles of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha (TNF-alpha) as mediators of inflammation in a nutritional model of steatohepatitis.


Wild-type (wt), TNF null -/-, and TNF receptor (R)-1-/- mice were fed a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet for up to 5 weeks. Liver injury (serum alanine aminotransferase [ALT]), hepatic inflammation, triglycerides, and lipid peroxide levels were determined. Hepatic NF-kappaB activation and expression of TNF and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) were assayed.


Irrespective of genotype, MCD diet-fed mice developed hepatic lipid peroxidation and serum ALT elevation; at day 10, livers from wt, TNF-/-, and TNFR-1-/- mice showed equivalent steatohepatitis. NF-kappaB/DNA binding was enhanced in hepatic nuclear fractions from MCD diet-fed wt mice compared with dietary controls; there were corresponding increases of ICAM-1 and TNF messenger RNA (mRNA). Likewise, NF-kappaB activation and ICAM-1 expression were enhanced by MCD dietary feeding in TNF-/- and TNFR-1-/- mice compared with respective controls. To establish whether NF-kappaB is a primary mediator of inflammation in experimental steatohepatitis, we over-expressed a mutant, nondegradable IkappaB (mIkappaB), delivered by adenovirus in vivo. As expected, hepatic mIkappaB expression reduced NF-kappaB/DNA binding induced by MCD dietary feeding, with resultant abrogation of ICAM-1 and TNF synthesis. Such blockade of NF-kappaB transcriptional activation substantially protected against development of steatohepatitis, with significant reductions in liver injury and hepatic inflammation.


In the MCD dietary model of steatohepatitis, NF-kappaB is activated early and is an important proinflammatory mediator of lesion development, but steatohepatitis occurs independently of TNF synthesis and TNFR-1 activation.

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