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Histol Histopathol. 2010 Sep;25(9):1123-31. doi: 10.14670/HH-25.1123.

A role for mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway in non alcoholic steatohepatitis related-cirrhosis.

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Department of Surgery, University of São Paulo School of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses the whole spectrum of steatosis, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and NASH-related cirrhosis (NASH/Cir). Although molecular advances have been made in this field, the pathogenesis of NAFLD is not completely understood. The gene expression profiling associated to NASH/Cir was assessed, in an attempt to better characterize the pathways involved in its etiopathogenesis.


In the first step, we used cDNA microarray to evaluate the gene expression profiles in normal liver (n=3) and NASH/Cir samples (n=3) by GeneSifter analysis to identify differentially expressed genes and biological pathways. Second, tissue microarray was used to determine immunohistochemical expression of phosphorylated mTOR and 4E-BP1 in 11 normal liver samples, 10 NASH/Cir samples and in 37 samples of cirrhosis of other etiologies to further explore the involvement of the mTOR pathway evidenced by the gene expression analysis.


138 and 106 genes were, respectively, up and down regulated in NASH/Cir in comparison to normal liver. Among the 9 pathways identified as significantly modulated in NASH/Cir, the participation of the mTOR pathway was confirmed, since expression of cytoplasmic and membrane phospho-mTOR were higher in NASH/Cir in comparison to cirrhosis of other etiologies and to normal liver.


Recent findings have suggested a role for the cellular "nutrient sensor" mTOR in NAFLD and the present study corroborates the participation of this pathway in NASH/Cir. Phospho-mTOR evaluation might be of clinical utility as a potential marker for identification of NASH/Cir in cases mistakenly considered as cryptogenic cirrhosis owing to paucity of clinical data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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