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Am J Transl Res. 2018 Jun 15;10(6):1802-1816. eCollection 2018.

Activation of the CXCL16/CXCR6 pathway promotes lipid deposition in fatty livers of apolipoprotein E knockout mice and HepG2 cells.

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Institute of Nephrology, Zhong Da Hospital, School of Medicine, Southeast University Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China.
Centre for Nephrology, University College London (UCL) Medical School, Royal Free Campus UK.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), characterised by early lipid accumulation and subsequent inflammation in the liver, is becoming a worldwide challenge due to its increasing prevalence in developing and developed countries. This study aimed to investigate the role of CXC chemokine ligand 16 (CXCL16) and its receptor CXC chemokine receptor 6 (CXCR6) in NAFLD under inflammation. We used IL-1β stimulation in human hepatoblastoma cell line (HepG2) for in vitro studies and casein injection in apolipoprotein E knockout mice in vivo to induce inflammatory stress. The effects of inflammation on cholesterol accumulation were examined by histochemical staining and a quantitative intracellular cholesterol assay. The gene and protein expression of molecules involved in CXCL16/CXCR6 pathway and extracellular matrix (ECM) were examined by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Western blotting. The fluorescence intensity of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was assessed by flow cytometry. Results showed that significantly elevated levels of serum amyloid protein A in casein-injected mice confirmed the successful induction of inflamed NAFLD model. Inflammation significantly increased lipid accumulation in livers compared with the high-fat diet group and the controls. Furthermore, inflammation increased the expression of CXCL16, CXCR6, and adisintegrin and metalloproteinase domain-containing protein 10 (ADAM10) in livers, accompanied with increased ECM expression and ROS production. These effects were further confirmed by in vitro studies. Interestingly, CXCL16 gene knockdown in HepG2 cells induced by CXCL16 siRNA resulted in decreased lipid accumulation, ECM excretion, and ROS production. These findings demonstrated that inflammation-mediated activation of CXCL16/CXCR6 is involved in the progression of NAFLD.


CXCL16/CXCR6 pathway; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; inflammatory stress


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