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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2011 Oct 15;256(2):122-35. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2011.07.019. Epub 2011 Aug 6.

Nrf2 protects against 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)-induced oxidative injury and steatohepatitis.

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Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.


Previous studies demonstrate that Nrf2, a master regulator of antioxidative responses, is essential in mediating induction of many antioxidative enzymes by acute activation of the AhR. However, the role of Nrf2 in protecting against oxidative stress and DNA damage induced by sustained activation of the AhR remains unknown and was investigated herein. Tissue and blood samples were collected from wild-type (WT) and Nrf2-null mice 21 days after administration of a low-toxic dose (10 μg/kg ip) of TCDD. Only Nrf2-null mice lost body weight after TCDD treatment; however, blood levels of ALT were not markedly changed in either genotype, indicating a lack of extensive necrosis. Compared to livers of TCDD-treated WT mice, livers of TCDD-treated Nrf2-null mice had: 1) degenerated hepatocytes, lobular inflammation, marked fat accumulation, and higher mRNA expression of inflammatory and fibrotic genes; 2) depletion of glutathione, elevation in lipid peroxidation and marker of DNA damage; 3) attenuated induction of phase-II enzymes Nqo1, Gsta1/2, and Ugt2b35 mRNAs, but higher induction of cytoprotective Ho-1, Prdx1, Trxr1, Gclc, and Epxh1 mRNAs; 4) higher mRNA expression of Fgf21 and triglyceride-synthesis genes, but down-regulation of bile-acid-synthesis genes and cholesterol-efflux transporters; and 5) trend of induction/activation of c-jun and NF-kB. Additionally, TCDD-treated Nrf2-null mice had impaired adipogenesis in white adipose tissue. In conclusion, Nrf2 protects livers of mice against oxidative stress, DNA damage, and steatohepatitis induced by TCDD-mediated sustained activation of the AhR. The aggravated hepatosteatosis in TCDD-treated Nrf2-null mice is due to increased lipogenesis in liver and impaired lipogenesis in white adipose tissue.

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