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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 Aug 1;262(3):321-9. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2012.05.010. Epub 2012 May 22.

Role of Nrf2 in preventing ethanol-induced oxidative stress and lipid accumulation.

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


Oxidative stress and lipid accumulation play important roles in alcohol-induced liver injury. Previous reports showed that, in livers of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-activated mice, genes involved in antioxidant defense are induced, whereas genes involved in lipid biosynthesis are suppressed. To investigate the role of Nrf2 in ethanol-induced hepatic alterations, Nrf2-null mice, wild-type mice, kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1-knockdown (Keap1-KD) mice with enhanced Nrf2, and Keap1-hepatocyte knockout (Keap1-HKO) mice with maximum Nrf2 activation, were treated with ethanol (5 g/kg, po). Blood and liver samples were collected 6h thereafter. Ethanol increased alanine aminotransferase and lactate dehydrogenase activities as well as thiobarbituric acid reactive substances in serum of Nrf2-null and wild-type mice, but not in Nrf2-enhanced mice. After ethanol administration, mitochondrial glutathione concentrations decreased markedly in Nrf2-null mice but not in Nrf2-enhanced mice. H(2)DCFDA staining of primary hepatocytes isolated from the four genotypes of mice indicates that oxidative stress was higher in Nrf2-null cells, and lower in Nrf2-enhanced cells than in wild-type cells. Ethanol increased serum triglycerides and hepatic free fatty acids in Nrf2-null mice, and these increases were blunted in Nrf2-enhanced mice. In addition, the basal mRNA and nuclear protein levels of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1(Srebp-1) were decreased with graded Nrf2 activation. Ethanol further induced Srebp-1 mRNA in Nrf2-null mice but not in Nrf2-enhanced mice. In conclusion, Nrf2 activation prevented alcohol-induced oxidative stress and accumulation of free fatty acids in liver by increasing genes involved in antioxidant defense and decreasing genes involved in lipogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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