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1.  Distinct metabolic effects following short-term exposure of different high-fat diets in male and female mice 
Endocrine journal  2014;61(5):457-470.
Obesity-associated hepatic lipid accumulation and chronic low-grade inflammation lead to metabolic defects. Saturated fatty acids (SFA) are a risk factor for, whereas unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) are thought to be protective against, developing metabolic diseases. Sex differences exist in the regulation of metabolism. We tested the hypothesis that diets high in SFA, mono-UFA (MUFA), or poly-UFA (PUFA) had early, sex-distinct effects that differentially contribute to long-term metabolic disturbance such as fatty liver and insulin resistance. Metabolic changes including body and fat mass, circulating leptin and glucose levels, plasma lipid profile, hepatic lipid accumulation, expression levels of genes related to lipid metabolism and low-grade inflammation, and tissue insulin sensitivity were compared between male and female mice fed with a low-fat chow, or high-fat SFA, MUFA, or PUFA for a short period of four days. SFA and MUFA males increased adiposity associated with increased liver lipid accumulation and rapid activation of inflammation in adipose and muscle tissues, whereas PUFA males did not show lipid accumulation or tissue inflammation compared to chow males. All SFA and UFA males displayed tissue insulin resistance. In contrast, female high-fat diet groups had normal liver lipid content and maintained tissue insulin sensitivity without showing tissue inflammation. Therefore, sex differences existed during early phase of development of metabolic dysfunction. The beneficial effects of PUFA, but not MUFA, were corroborated in protection of obesity, hyperlipidemia, fatty liver, and low-grade inflammation. The benefit of MUFA and PUFA in maintaining tissue insulin sensitivity in males, however, was questioned.
PMCID: PMC4045093  PMID: 24646677
sex difference; de novo lipogenesis; β-oxidation; insulin sensitivity; low-grade inflammation
2.  The lipogenic transcription factor ChREBP dissociates hepatic steatosis from insulin resistance in mice and humans 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(6):2176-2194.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with all features of the metabolic syndrome. Although deposition of excess triglycerides within liver cells, a hallmark of NAFLD, is associated with a loss of insulin sensitivity, it is not clear which cellular abnormality arises first. We have explored this in mice overexpressing carbohydrate responsive element–binding protein (ChREBP). On a standard diet, mice overexpressing ChREBP remained insulin sensitive, despite increased expression of genes involved in lipogenesis/fatty acid esterification and resultant hepatic steatosis (simple fatty liver). Lipidomic analysis revealed that the steatosis was associated with increased accumulation of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). In primary cultures of mouse hepatocytes, ChREBP overexpression induced expression of stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (Scd1), the enzyme responsible for the conversion of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) into MUFAs. SFA impairment of insulin-responsive Akt phosphorylation was therefore rescued by the elevation of Scd1 levels upon ChREBP overexpression, whereas pharmacological or shRNA-mediated reduction of Scd1 activity decreased the beneficial effect of ChREBP on Akt phosphorylation. Importantly, ChREBP-overexpressing mice fed a high-fat diet showed normal insulin levels and improved insulin signaling and glucose tolerance compared with controls, despite having greater hepatic steatosis. Finally, ChREBP expression in liver biopsies from patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was increased when steatosis was greater than 50% and decreased in the presence of severe insulin resistance. Together, these results demonstrate that increased ChREBP can dissociate hepatic steatosis from insulin resistance, with beneficial effects on both glucose and lipid metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3366390  PMID: 22546860
3.  Comparative Evaluation of Whole Body and Hepatic Insulin Resistance Using Indices from Oral Glucose Tolerance Test in Morbidly Obese Subjects with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
Journal of Obesity  2010;2010:741521.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome and is a marker of Insulin Resistance (IR). Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp is the gold standard for measuring whole body IR (hepatic + peripheral IR). However, it is an invasive and expensive procedure. Homeostasis Model Assessment Index for Insulin Sensitivity (HOMA-IS), Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI) for hepatic IR and Insulin Sensitivity Index (ISI0,120), and Whole Body Insulin Sensitivity Index (WBISI) for whole body IR are the indices calculated after Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). We used these indices as noninvasive methods of IR (inverse of insulin sensitivity) estimation and compared hepatic/peripheral components of whole body IR in NAFLD. Methods. 113 morbidly obese, nondiabetic subjects who underwent gastric bypass surgery and intraoperative liver biopsy were included in the study. OGTT was performed preoperatively and the indices were calculated. Subjects were divided into closely matched groups as normal, fatty liver (FL) and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) based on histology. Results. Whole body IR was significantly higher in both FL and NASH groups (NAFLD) as compared to Normal, while hepatic IR was higher only in NASH from Normal. Conclusions. FL is a manifestation of peripheral IR but not hepatic IR.
PMCID: PMC2925212  PMID: 20798875
4.  Regulation of fatty acid composition and lipid storage by thyroid hormone in mouse liver 
Cell & Bioscience  2014;4:38.
Thyroid hormones (THs) are potent hormones modulating liver lipid homeostasis. The perturbation of lipid homeostasis is a hallmark of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a very common liver disorder. It was reported that NAFLD patients were associated with higher incidence of hypothyroidism. However, whether abnormal thyroid function contributes to the pathogenesis of NAFLD remains unclear.
We used in vivo models to investigate the influence of hypothyroidism and TH on hepatic lipid homeostasis. We did not observe hepatic triglyceride accumulation in the liver of hypothyroid mice, although the liver was enlarged. We then characterized the hepatic fatty acid composition with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry in mice under different thyroid states. We found that hypothyroidism decreased saturated fatty acid (SFA) content while TH treatment restored the level of SFA. In agreement with this finding, we observed that the expression of acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 and fatty acid synthase, the rate-limit enzymes for de novo lipogenesis (DNL), decreased in hypothyroid mice while increased after TH treatment. We also found that the ratio of C18:1n-9/C18:0 and C16:1n-7/C16:0 was decreased by TH treatment, suggesting the activity of stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 was suppressed. This finding indicated that TH is able to suppress triglyceride accumulation by reducing fatty acid desaturation. Additionally, we found that hepatic glycogen content was substantially influenced by TH status, which was associated with glycogen synthase expression. The increased glycogen storage might explain the enlarged liver we observed in hypothyroid mice.
Taken together, our study here suggested that hypothyroidism in mice might not lead to the development of NAFLD although the liver became enlarged. However, disturbed TH levels led to altered hepatic fatty acid composition and glycogen accumulation.
PMCID: PMC4124172  PMID: 25105012
Thyroid hormone; Liver; Fatty acid; Glycogen; NAFLD
5.  Association of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(7):e1001680.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Giovanni Musso and colleagues examine the association between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic kidney disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a frequent, under-recognized condition and a risk factor for renal failure and cardiovascular disease. Increasing evidence connects non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to CKD. We conducted a meta-analysis to determine whether the presence and severity of NAFLD are associated with the presence and severity of CKD.
Methods and Findings
English and non-English articles from international online databases from 1980 through January 31, 2014 were searched. Observational studies assessing NAFLD by histology, imaging, or biochemistry and defining CKD as either estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <60 ml/min/1.73 m2 or proteinuria were included. Two reviewers extracted studies independently and in duplicate. Individual participant data (IPD) were solicited from all selected studies. Studies providing IPD were combined with studies providing only aggregate data with the two-stage method. Main outcomes were pooled using random-effects models. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were used to explore sources of heterogeneity and the effect of potential confounders. The influences of age, whole-body/abdominal obesity, homeostasis model of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and duration of follow-up on effect estimates were assessed by meta-regression. Thirty-three studies (63,902 participants, 16 population-based and 17 hospital-based, 20 cross-sectional, and 13 longitudinal) were included. For 20 studies (61% of included studies, 11 cross-sectional and nine longitudinal, 29,282 participants), we obtained IPD. NAFLD was associated with an increased risk of prevalent (odds ratio [OR] 2.12, 95% CI 1.69–2.66) and incident (hazard ratio [HR] 1.79, 95% CI 1.65–1.95) CKD. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) was associated with a higher prevalence (OR 2.53, 95% CI 1.58–4.05) and incidence (HR 2.12, 95% CI 1.42–3.17) of CKD than simple steatosis. Advanced fibrosis was associated with a higher prevalence (OR 5.20, 95% CI 3.14–8.61) and incidence (HR 3.29, 95% CI 2.30–4.71) of CKD than non-advanced fibrosis. In all analyses, the magnitude and direction of effects remained unaffected by diabetes status, after adjustment for other risk factors, and in other subgroup and meta-regression analyses. In cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, the severity of NAFLD was positively associated with CKD stages. Limitations of analysis are the relatively small size of studies utilizing liver histology and the suboptimal sensitivity of ultrasound and biochemistry for NAFLD detection in population-based studies.
The presence and severity of NAFLD are associated with an increased risk and severity of CKD.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Chronic kidney disease (CKD)—the gradual loss of kidney function—is becoming increasingly common. In the US, for example, more than 10% of the adult population (about 26 million people) and more than 25% of individuals older than 65 years have CKD. Throughout life, the kidneys perform the essential task of filtering waste products (from the normal breakdown of tissues and from food) and excess water from the blood to make urine. CKD gradually destroys the kidneys' filtration units, the rate of blood filtration decreases, and dangerous amounts of waste products build up in the blood. Symptoms of CKD, which rarely occur until the disease is very advanced, include tiredness, swollen feet, and frequent urination, particularly at night. There is no cure for CKD, but progression of the disease can be slowed by controlling high blood pressure and diabetes (two risk factors for CKD), and by adopting a healthy lifestyle. The same interventions also reduce the chances of CKD developing in the first place.
Why Was This Study Done?
CKD is associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal (kidney) disease and of cardiovascular disease. These life-threatening complications are potentially preventable through early identification and treatment of CKD. Because early recognition of CKD has the potential to reduce its health-related burden, the search is on for new modifiable risk factors for CKD. One possible new risk factor is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which, like CKD is becoming increasingly common. Healthy livers contain little or no fat but, in the US, 30% of the general adult population and up to 70% of patients who are obese or have diabetes have some degree of NAFLD, which ranges in severity from simple fatty liver (steatosis), through non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), to NASH with fibrosis (scarring of the liver) and finally cirrhosis (extensive scarring). In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers investigate whether NAFLD is a risk factor for CKD by looking for an association between the two conditions. A systematic review identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria, meta-analysis uses statistical methods to combine the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 33 studies that assessed NAFLD and CKD in nearly 64,000 participants, including 20 cross-sectional studies in which participants were assessed for NAFLD and CKD at a single time point and 13 longitudinal studies in which participants were assessed for NAFLD and then followed up to see whether they subsequently developed CKD. Meta-analysis of the data from the cross-sectional studies indicated that NAFLD was associated with a 2-fold increased risk of prevalent (pre-existing) CKD (an odds ratio [OR]of 2.12; an OR indicates the chance that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the chance of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure). Meta-analysis of data from the longitudinal studies indicated that NAFLD was associated with a nearly 2-fold increased risk of incident (new) CKD (a hazard ratio [HR] of 1.79; an HR indicates often a particular event happens in one group compared to how often it happens in another group, over time). NASH was associated with a higher prevalence and incidence of CKD than simple steatosis. Similarly, advanced fibrosis was associated with a higher prevalence and incidence of CKD than non-advanced fibrosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that NAFLD is associated with an increased prevalence and incidence of CKD and that increased severity of liver disease is associated with an increased risk and severity of CKD. Because these associations persist after allowing for established risk factors for CKD, these findings identify NAFLD as an independent CKD risk factor. Certain aspects of the studies included in this meta-analysis (for example, only a few studies used biopsies to diagnose NAFLD; most used less sensitive tests that may have misclassified some individuals with NAFLD as normal) and the methods used in the meta-analysis may limit the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that individuals with NAFLD should be screened for CKD even in the absence of other risk factors for the disease, and that better treatment of NAFLD may help to prevent CKD.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse provides information about all aspects of kidney disease; the US National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse provides information about non-alcoholic liver disease
The US National Kidney Disease Education Program provides resources to help improve the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients on chronic kidney disease, including some personal stories, and information on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
The US National Kidney Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about chronic kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
The not-for-profit UK National Kidney Federation provides support and information for patients with kidney disease and for their carers
The British Liver Trust, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, including a patient story
PMCID: PMC4106719  PMID: 25050550
6.  Effects of insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation on hepatic mRNA expression levels of apoB, MTP and L-FABP in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is considered a hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome, which is known to be associated with insulin resistance (IR). NAFLD occurs when the rate of hepatic fatty acid uptake from plasma and de novo fatty acid synthesis is greater than the rate of fatty acid oxidation and excretion as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). To estimate the effects of IR on hepatic lipid excretion, mRNA expression levels of genes involved in VLDL assembly were analyzed in NAFLD liver. Twenty-two histologically proven NAFLD patients and 10 healthy control subjects were enrolled in this study. mRNA was extracted from liver biopsy samples and real-time PCR was performed to quantify the expression levels of apolipoprotein B (apoB), microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) and liver fatty-acid binding protein (L-FABP). Hepatic expression levels of the genes were compared between NAFLD patients and control subjects. In NAFLD patients, we also examined correlations between expression levels of the genes and metabolic factors, including IR, and the extent of obesity and hepatic lipid accumulation. Hepatic expression levels of apoB, MTP and L-FABP were significantly up-regulated in NAFLD patients compared to control subjects. The expression levels of MTP were correlated with those of apoB, but not with those of L-FABP. In the NAFLD liver, the expression levels of MTP were significantly reduced in patients with HOMA-IR >2.5. In addition, a significant reduction in MTP expression was observed in livers with advanced steatosis. Enhanced expression of genes involved in VLDL assembly may be promoted to release excess lipid from NAFLD livers. However, the progression of IR and hepatic steatosis may attenuate this compensatory process.
PMCID: PMC3440820  PMID: 22977624
apolipoprotein B; fatty-acid binding protein; homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance; microsomal triglyceride transfer protein; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; very low-density lipoprotein
7.  Liver, Muscle and Adipose Tissue Insulin Action is Directly Related to Intrahepatic Triglyceride Content in Obese Subjects 
Gastroenterology  2008;134(5):1369-1375.
Background & Aims
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) content and insulin action in liver (suppression of glucose dioduction), skeletal muscle (stimulation of glucose uptake) and adipose tissue (suppression of lipolysis) in non-diabetic, obese subjects.
A euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp procedure and stable isotopically labeled tracer infusions were used to assess insulin action, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to determine IHTG content, in 42 non-diabetic, obese subjects (BMI 36±4 kg/m2) who had a wide range of IHTG content (1%−46%).
Hepatic insulin sensitivity, assessed as a function of glucose production rate and plasma insulin concentration, was inversely correlated with IHTG content (r=−0.599; P<0.001). The ability of insulin to suppress the release of fatty acids from adipose tissue and to stimulate glucose uptake by skeletal muscle were also inversely correlated with IHTG content (adipose tissue: r=−0.590; P<0.001; skeletal muscle: r=−0.656; P<0.001). Multivariate linear regression analyses found that IHTG content was the best predictor of insulin action in liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, independent of BMI and percent body fat, and accounted for 34%, 42%, and 44% of the variability in these tissues, respectively (P< 0.001 for each model).
These results demonstrate that progressive increases in IHTG content are associated with progressive impairment of insulin action in liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue in non-diabetic, obese subjects. Therefore, NAFLD should be considered part of a multi-organ system derangement in insulin sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC2629391  PMID: 18355813
8.  Fructose as a key player in the development of fatty liver disease 
We aimed to investigate whether increased consumption of fructose is linked to the increased prevalence of fatty liver. The prevalence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is 3% and 20% in nonobese and obese subjects, respectively. Obesity is a low-grade chronic inflammatory condition and obesity-related cytokines such as interleukin-6, adiponectin, leptin, and tumor necrosis factor-α may play important roles in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Additionally, the prevalence of NASH associated with both cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma was reported to be high among patients with type 2 diabetes with or without obesity. Our research group previously showed that consumption of fructose is associated with adverse alterations of plasma lipid profiles and metabolic changes in mice, the American Lifestyle-Induced Obesity Syndrome model, which included consumption of a high-fructose corn syrup in amounts relevant to that consumed by some Americans. The observation reinforces the concerns about the role of fructose in the obesity epidemic. Increased availability of fructose (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup) increases not only abnormal glucose flux but also fructose metabolism in the hepatocyte. Thus, the anatomic position of the liver places it in a strategic buffering position for absorbed carbohydrates and amino acids. Fructose was previously accepted as a beneficial dietary component because it does not stimulate insulin secretion. However, since insulin signaling plays an important role in central mechanisms of NAFLD, this property of fructose may be undesirable. Fructose has a selective hepatic metabolism, and provokes a hepatic stress response involving activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinases and subsequent reduced hepatic insulin signaling. As high fat diet alone produces obesity, insulin resistance, and some degree of fatty liver with minimal inflammation and no fibrosis, the fast food diet which includes fructose and fats produces a gene expression signature of increased hepatic fibrosis, inflammation, endoplasmic reticulum stress and lipoapoptosis. Hepatic de novo lipogenesis (fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis) is increased in patients with NAFLD. Stable-isotope studies showed that increased de novo lipogenesis (DNL) in patients with NAFLD contributed to fat accumulation in the liver and the development of NAFLD. Specifically, DNL was responsible for 26% of accumulated hepatic triglycerides and 15%-23% of secreted very low-density lipoprotein triglycerides in patients with NAFLD compared to an estimated less than 5% DNL in healthy subjects and 10% DNL in obese people with hyperinsulinemia. In conclusion, understanding the underlying causes of NAFLD forms the basis for rational preventive and treatment strategies of this major form of chronic liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3587472  PMID: 23482247
Nonalcoholic; Fatty liver; Diabetes; Insulin resistance; Cytokines; Obesity; Fructose
9.  Mitochondrial dysfunction precedes insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis and contributes to the natural history of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in an obese rodent model 
Journal of hepatology  2010;52(5):727-736.
Background & Aims
In this study, we sought to determine the temporal relationship between hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction, hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance, and to examine their potential role in the natural progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) utilising a sedentary, hyperphagic, obese, Otsuka Long–Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rat model.
OLETF rats and their non-hyperphagic control Long–Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) rats were sacrificed at 5, 8, 13, 20, and 40 weeks of age (n = 6–8 per group).
At 5 weeks of age, serum insulin and glucose and hepatic triglyceride (TG) concentrations did not differ between animal groups; however, OLETF animals displayed significant (p < 0.01) hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction as measured by reduced hepatic carnitine palmitoyl-CoA transferase-1 activity, fatty acid oxidation, and cytochrome c protein content compared with LETO rats. Hepatic TG levels were significantly elevated by 8 weeks of age, and insulin resistance developed by 13 weeks in the OLETF rats. NAFLD progressively worsened to include hepatocyte ballooning, perivenular fibrosis, 2.5-fold increase in serum ALT, hepatic mitochondrial ultrastructural abnormalities, and increased hepatic oxidative stress in the OLETF animals at later ages. Measures of hepatic mitochondrial content and function including β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity, citrate synthase activity, and immunofluorescence staining for mitochondrial carbamoyl phosphate synthetase-1, progressively worsened and were significantly reduced at 40 weeks in OLETF rats compared to LETO animals.
Our study documents that hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction precedes the development of NAFLD and insulin resistance in the OLETF rats. This evidence suggests that progressive mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the natural history of obesity-associated NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC3070177  PMID: 20347174
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Fatty acid oxidation; Mitochondrial dysfunction; OLETF rat
10.  Metformin Ameliorates Hepatic Steatosis and Inflammation without Altering Adipose Phenotype in Diet-Induced Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91111.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is closely associated with obesity and insulin resistance. To better understand the pathophysiology of obesity-associated NAFLD, the present study examined the involvement of liver and adipose tissues in metformin actions on reducing hepatic steatosis and inflammation during obesity. C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks to induce obesity-associated NAFLD and treated with metformin (150 mg/kg/d) orally for the last four weeks of HFD feeding. Compared with HFD-fed control mice, metformin-treated mice showed improvement in both glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Also, metformin treatment caused a significant decrease in liver weight, but not adiposity. As indicated by histological changes, metformin treatment decreased hepatic steatosis, but not the size of adipocytes. In addition, metformin treatment caused an increase in the phosphorylation of liver AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which was accompanied by an increase in the phosphorylation of liver acetyl-CoA carboxylase and decreases in the phosphorylation of liver c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) and in the mRNA levels of lipogenic enzymes and proinflammatory cytokines. However, metformin treatment did not significantly alter adipose tissue AMPK phosphorylation and inflammatory responses. In cultured hepatocytes, metformin treatment increased AMPK phosphorylation and decreased fat deposition and inflammatory responses. Additionally, in bone marrow-derived macrophages, metformin treatment partially blunted the effects of lipopolysaccharide on inducing the phosphorylation of JNK1 and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) p65 and on increasing the mRNA levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Taken together, these results suggest that metformin protects against obesity-associated NAFLD largely through direct effects on decreasing hepatocyte fat deposition and on inhibiting inflammatory responses in both hepatocytes and macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3956460  PMID: 24638078
11.  Postprandial triglyceride-rich lipoproteins induce hepatic insulin resistance in HepG2 cells independently of their receptor-mediated cellular uptake 
► The pathophysiological link between NAFLD and hepatic insulin resistance is unknown. ► We studied the effect of postprandial lipoproteins on hepatic insulin sensitivity. ► Postprandial lipoproteins cause liver steatosis and hepatic insulin resistance. ► We characterize the underlying molecular mechanisms. ► Postprandial lipoproteins are a link between NAFLD and hepatic insulin resistance.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with hepatic insulin resistance with the molecular basis of this association being not well understood. Here we studied the effect of hepatic triglyceride accumulation induced by postprandial triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TGRL) on hepatic insulin sensitivity in HepG2 cells. Incubation of HepG2 cells with purified TGRL particles induced hepatocellular triglyceride accumulation paralleled by diminished insulin-stimulated glycogen content and glycogen synthase activity. Accordingly, insulin-induced inhibition of glycogen synthase phosphorylation as well as insulin-induced GSK-3 and AKT phosphorylation were reduced by TGRL. The effects of TGRL were dependent on the presence of apolipoproteins and more pronounced for denser TGRL. Moreover, TGRL effects required the presence of heparan sulfate-proteoglycans on the cell membrane and lipase activity but were independent of the cellular uptake of TGRL particles by receptors of the LDL receptor family. We suggest postprandial lipemia to be an important factor in the pathogenesis of NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC3167371  PMID: 21704120
BMI, body mass index; DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DMEM, dulbeccos minimal essential media; FCS, fetal calf serum; GS, glycogen synthase; GSK-3, glycogen synthase kinase 3; HL, hepatic lipase; HOMA-IR, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance; HSPG, heparan sulfate proteoglycans; LPL, lipoprotein lipase; LRP, LDL-receptor-related protein; NAFLD, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; PBS, phosphate buffered saline; RAP, receptor-associated protein; ROS, reactive oxygen species; Sf, Svedberg flotation rate; TGRL, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; THL, tetrahydrolipstatin; Glucose metabolism; Hepatic insulin resistance; Insulin signaling; Liver steatosis; Postprandial lipemia
12.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Is the Liver Another Target? 
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is recurrent obstruction of the upper airway during sleep leading to intermittent hypoxia (IH). OSA has been associated with all components of the metabolic syndrome as well as with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is a common condition ranging in severity from uncomplicated hepatic steatosis to steatohepatitis (NASH), liver fibrosis, and cirrhosis. The gold standard for the diagnosis and staging of NAFLD is liver biopsy. Obesity and insulin resistance lead to liver steatosis, but the causes of the progression to NASH are not known. Emerging evidence suggests that OSA may play a role in the progression of hepatic steatosis and the development of NASH. Several cross-sectional studies showed that the severity of IH in patients with OSA predicted the severity of NAFLD on liver biopsy. However, neither prospective nor interventional studies with continuous positive airway pressure treatment have been performed. Studies in a mouse model showed that IH causes triglyceride accumulation in the liver and liver injury as well as hepatic inflammation. The mouse model provided insight in the pathogenesis of liver injury showing that (1) IH accelerates the progression of hepatic steatosis by inducing adipose tissue lipolysis and increasing free fatty acids (FFA) flux into the liver; (2) IH up-regulates lipid biosynthetic pathways in the liver; (3) IH induces oxidative stress in the liver; (4) IH up-regulates hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha and possibly HIF-2 alpha, which may increase hepatic steatosis and induce liver inflammation and fibrosis. However, the role of FFA and different transcription factors in the pathogenesis of IH-induced NAFLD is yet to be established. Thus, multiple lines of evidence suggest that IH of OSA may contribute to the progression of NAFLD but definitive clinical studies and experiments in the mouse model have yet to be done.
PMCID: PMC3473309  PMID: 23087670
sleep apnea; intermittent hypoxia; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
13.  Effects of resveratrol in experimental and clinical non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
World Journal of Hepatology  2014;6(4):188-198.
The prevalence of obesity and related conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasing worldwide and therapeutic options are limited. Alternative treatment options are therefore intensively sought after. An interesting candidate is the natural polyphenol resveratrol (RSV) that activates adenosinmonophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and silent information regulation-2 homolog 1 (SIRT1). In addition, RSV has known anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Here, we review the current evidence for RSV-mediated effects on NAFLD and address the different aspects of NAFLD and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) pathogenesis with respect to free fatty acid (FFA) flux from adipose tissue, hepatic de novo lipogenesis, inadequate FFA β-oxidation and additional intra- and extrahepatic inflammatory and oxidant hits. We review the in vivo evidence from animal studies and clinical trials. The abundance of animal studies reports a decrease in hepatic triglyceride accumulation, liver weight and a general improvement in histological fatty liver changes, along with a reduction in circulating insulin, glucose and lipid levels. Some studies document AMPK or SIRT1 activation, and modulation of relevant markers of hepatic lipogenesis, inflammation and oxidation status. However, AMPK/SIRT1-independent actions are also likely. Clinical trials are scarce and have primarily been performed with a focus on overweight/obese participants without a focus on NAFLD/NASH and histological liver changes. Future clinical studies with appropriate design are needed to clarify the true impact of RSV treatment in NAFLD/NASH patients.
PMCID: PMC4009474  PMID: 24799987
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Steatosis; Resveratrol; AMP-activated protein kinase; Silent information regulation-2 homolog 1; Anti-oxidants; Anti-inflammatory agents; Animal studies; Clinical trial
14.  Osteopontin deficiency protects against obesity-induced hepatic steatosis and attenuates glucose production in mice 
Diabetologia  2011;54(8):2132-2142.
Obesity is strongly associated with the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The cytokine osteopontin (OPN) was recently shown to be involved in obesity-induced adipose tissue inflammation and reduced insulin response. Accumulating evidence links OPN to the pathogenesis of NAFLD. Here we aimed to identify the role of OPN in obesity-associated hepatic steatosis and impaired hepatic glucose metabolism.
Wild-type (WT) and Opn (also known as Spp1) knockout (Opn−/−) mice were fed a high-fat or low-fat diet to study OPN effects in obesity-driven hepatic alterations.
We show that genetic OPN deficiency protected from obesity-induced hepatic steatosis, at least in part, by downregulating hepatic triacylglycerol synthesis. Conversely, absence of OPN promoted fat storage in adipose tissue thereby preventing the obesity-induced shift to ectopic fat accumulation in the liver. Euglycaemic–hyperinsulinaemic clamp studies revealed that insulin resistance and excess hepatic glucose production in obesity were significantly attenuated in Opn−/− mice. OPN deficiency markedly improved hepatic insulin signalling as shown by enhanced insulin receptor substrate-2 phosphorylation and prevented upregulation of the major hepatic transcription factor Forkhead box O1 and its gluconeogenic target genes. In addition, obesity-driven hepatic inflammation and macrophage accumulation was blocked by OPN deficiency.
Our data strongly emphasise OPN as mediator of obesity-associated hepatic alterations including steatosis, inflammation, insulin resistance and excess gluconeogenesis. Targeting OPN action could therefore provide a novel therapeutic strategy to prevent obesity-related complications such as NAFLD and type 2 diabetes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-011-2170-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
PMCID: PMC3131508  PMID: 21562757
Gluconeogenesis; High-fat diet; Inflammation; Insulin resistance; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
15.  Black rice (Oryza sativa L.) extract attenuates hepatic steatosis in C57BL/6 J mice fed a high-fat diet via fatty acid oxidation 
Two major risk factors for the onset of fatty liver disease are excessive alcohol intake and obesity, the latter being associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The aim of this study was to examine the effects of black rice extract (BRE) on hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance in high-fat diet-fed mice, providing a model of NAFLD.
Twenty-four mice were randomly divided into three groups (n = 8 in each group): normal fat diet (ND), high fat diet (HF), and high fat diet supplemented with 1% (w/w) BRE (HF +1% BRE). The experimental diets were fed for seven weeks.
A HF induced hepatic steatosis with significant increases in the serum levels of free fatty acids (FFAs), triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), and insulin. By contrast, supplementary BRE (10 g/kg of diet) included in the HF alleviated hepatic steatosis and significantly decreased serum TG and TC levels (p < 0.01 for both). Dietary BRE also increased expression of fatty acid metabolism-related genes, including carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT1A), acyl-CoA oxidase (ACO), cytochrome P450 (CYP4A10), and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR)-α (p < 0.05 for all).
Dietary BRE supplementation improved serum lipid profiles and significantly enhanced mRNA expression levels of fatty acid metabolism-related genes, primarily via β-oxidation and ω-oxidation in the liver. Taken together, these findings suggest that a BRE-supplemented diet could be useful in reducing the risks of hepatic steatosis and related disorders, including hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia.
PMCID: PMC3366884  PMID: 22458550
Black rice; Cyanidin-3-glucoside; Hepatic steatosis; High-fat diet; Fatty acid oxidation
16.  Enhancement of Muscle Mitochondrial Oxidative Capacity and Alterations in Insulin Action Are Lipid Species Dependent 
Diabetes  2009;58(11):2547-2554.
Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) have been reported to be less obesogenic than long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs); however, relatively little is known regarding their effect on insulin action. Here, we examined the tissue-specific effects of MCFAs on lipid metabolism and insulin action.
C57BL6/J mice and Wistar rats were fed either a low-fat control diet or high-fat diets rich in MCFAs or LCFAs for 4–5 weeks, and markers of mitochondrial oxidative capacity, lipid levels, and insulin action were measured.
Mice fed the MCFA diet displayed reduced adiposity and better glucose tolerance than LCFA-fed animals. In skeletal muscle, triglyceride levels were increased by the LCFA diet (77%, P < 0.01) but remained at low-fat diet control levels in the MCFA-fed animals. The LCFA diet increased (20–50%, P < 0.05) markers of mitochondrial metabolism in muscle compared with low-fat diet–fed controls; however; the increase in oxidative capacity was substantially greater in MCFA-fed animals (50–140% versus low-fat–fed controls, P < 0.01). The MCFA diet induced a greater accumulation of liver triglycerides than the LCFA diet, likely due to an upregulation of several lipogenic enzymes. In rats, isocaloric feeding of MCFA or LCFA high-fat diets induced hepatic insulin resistance to a similar degree; however, insulin action was preserved at the level of low-fat diet–fed controls in muscle and adipose from MCFA-fed animals.
MCFAs reduce adiposity and preserve insulin action in muscle and adipose, despite inducing steatosis and insulin resistance in the liver. Dietary supplementation with MCFAs may therefore be beneficial for preventing obesity and peripheral insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC2768163  PMID: 19720794
17.  Molecular pathways in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a clinicopathological change characterized by the accumulation of triglycerides in hepatocytes and has frequently been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance. It is an increasingly recognized condition that has become the most common liver disorder in developed countries, affecting over one-third of the population and is associated with increased cardiovascular- and liver-related mortality. NAFLD is a spectrum of disorders, beginning as simple steatosis. In about 15% of all NAFLD cases, simple steatosis can evolve into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a medley of inflammation, hepatocellular injury, and fibrosis, often resulting in cirrhosis and even hepatocellular cancer. However, the molecular mechanism underlying NAFLD progression is not completely understood. Its pathogenesis has often been interpreted by the “double-hit” hypothesis. The primary insult or the “first hit” includes lipid accumulation in the liver, followed by a “second hit” in which proinflammatory mediators induce inflammation, hepatocellular injury, and fibrosis. Nowadays, a more complex model suggests that fatty acids (FAs) and their metabolites may be the true lipotoxic agents that contribute to NAFLD progression; a multiple parallel hits hypothesis has also been suggested. In NAFLD patients, insulin resistance leads to hepatic steatosis via multiple mechanisms. Despite the excess hepatic accumulation of FAs in NAFLD, it has been described that not only de novo FA synthesis is increased, but FAs are also taken up from the serum. Furthermore, a decrease in mitochondrial FA oxidation and secretion of very-low-density lipoproteins has been reported. This review discusses the molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathophysiological changes of hepatic lipid metabolism that contribute to NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC4094580  PMID: 25045276
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; molecular pathways; insulin resistance; fatty acid metabolism
18.  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity: Biochemical, metabolic and clinical presentations 
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in the world. Presentation of the disease ranges from simple steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NAFLD is a hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome that includes central abdominal obesity along with other components. Up to 80% of patients with NAFLD are obese, defined as a body mass index (BMI) > 30 kg/m2. However, the distribution of fat tissue plays a greater role in insulin resistance than the BMI. The large amount of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in morbidly obese (BMI > 40 kg/m2) individuals contributes to a high prevalence of NAFLD. Free fatty acids derived from VAT tissue, as well as from dietary sources and de novo lipogenesis, are released to the portal venous system. Excess free fatty acids and chronic low-grade inflammation from VAT are considered to be two of the most important factors contributing to liver injury progression in NAFLD. In addition, secretion of adipokines from VAT as well as lipid accumulation in the liver further promotes inflammation through nuclear factor kappa B signaling pathways, which are also activated by free fatty acids, and contribute to insulin resistance. Most NAFLD patients are asymptomatic on clinical presentation, even though some may present with fatigue, dyspepsia, dull pain in the liver and hepatosplenomegaly. Treatment for NAFLD and NASH involves weight reduction through lifestyle modifications, anti-obesity medication and bariatric surgery. This article reviews the available information on the biochemical and metabolic phenotypes associated with obesity and fatty liver disease. The relative contribution of visceral and liver fat to insulin resistance is discussed, and recommendations for clinical evaluation of affected individuals is provided.
PMCID: PMC4110564  PMID: 25071327
Fatty liver; Insulin resistance; Intra-abdominal fat; Metabolism; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Obesity
19.  Palmitoleic acid prevents palmitic acid-induced macrophage activation and consequent p38 MAPK-mediated skeletal muscle insulin resistance 
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology  2014;393(1-2):129-142.
•Palmitate-treated macrophage-conditioned medium causes myotube insulin resistance.•This involves activation of myotube p38 mitogen activated protein kinase.•Conditioned medium effects are mediated by tumour necrosis factor-α.•These effects are prevented by addition of palmitoleate.•Palmitoleate treatment of macrophages is insulin sensitising for myotubes.
Obesity and saturated fatty acid (SFA) treatment are both associated with skeletal muscle insulin resistance (IR) and increased macrophage infiltration. However, the relative effects of SFA and unsaturated fatty acid (UFA)-activated macrophages on muscle are unknown. Here, macrophages were treated with palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid or both and the effects of the conditioned medium (CM) on C2C12 myotubes investigated. CM from palmitic acid-treated J774s (palm-mac-CM) impaired insulin signalling and insulin-stimulated glycogen synthesis, reduced Inhibitor κBα and increased phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase in myotubes. p38 MAPK inhibition or siRNA partially ameliorated these defects, as did addition of tumour necrosis factor-α blocking antibody to the CM. Macrophages incubated with both FAs generated CM that did not induce IR, while palmitoleic acid-mac-CM alone was insulin sensitising. Thus UFAs may improve muscle insulin sensitivity and counteract SFA-mediated IR through an effect on macrophage activation.
PMCID: PMC4148479  PMID: 24973767
ABAF, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal; ANOVA, analysis of variance; AS160, Akt substrate of 160 kDa; BSA, bovine serum albumin; CM, conditioned medium; CXCL2, Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 2; DMEM, Dulbecco’s modified Eagle's medium; DMSO, dimethylsulphoxide; ERK, extracellular signal-related kinase; FA, fatty acid; FBS, foetal bovine serum; GLUT, glucose transporter; GSK, glycogen synthase kinase; IKK, inhibitor κ kinase; IκBα, inhibitor κBα; IL, interleukin; iNOS, inducible nitric oxide synthase; IR, insulin resistance; IRS1, insulin receptor substrate-1; JNK, C-jun n-terminal kinase; LPS, lipopolysaccharide; mac, macrophage; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; MCP1, monocyte chemoattractant protein; NFκB, nuclear factor-κB; PI3K, phosphoinositol 3-kinase; palm, palmitate; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline; PKC, protein kinase C; PMA, phorbol myristate acetate; RIPA, radioimmunoprecipitation; SDS-PAGE, sodium dodecyl sulphate, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; SFA, saturated fatty acid; siRNA, small interfering RNA; T2D, type 2 diabetes; TLR, Toll-like Receptor; TNFα, tumour necrosis factor-α; UFA, unsaturated fatty acid; Fatty acid; Tumour necrosis factor-α; p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase; Insulin resistance; Skeletal muscle; Macrophage
20.  Chemerin as a novel non-invasive serum marker of intrahepatic lipid content in obese children 
Ectopic hepatic lipid accumulation is closely related to the development of insulin resistance, which is regarded as one of the most significant risk factors of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The current study has shown that fat tissue constitutes an important endocrine organ with its own production and metabolism of many biologically active substances, among which adipokines play an important role. Classic adipokines (e.g. leptin, adiponectin, resistin) are fat-derived hormones which serum level is altered in patients with NAFLD. The role of novel adipokines in the pathomechanism of this disease is not clear. Therefore, the aim of our study was to evaluate the serum concentrations of chemerin, omentin and vaspin in obese children with NAFLD.
Forty-five obese children, aged 7–17 years old, were admitted to our Department with suspected liver disease (hepatomegaly, and/or ultrasonographic liver brightness, and/or increased ALT activity). Viral hepatitides, as well as autoimmune and metabolic liver diseases were excluded. Fasting serum levels of chemerin, omentin and vaspin were determined. The grade of liver steatosis in ultrasound was graded according to Saverymuttu. 1HMR spectroscopy was performed with a 1.5 T scanner and with PRESS sequencing.
Fatty liver was confirmed in 39 children by ultrasound and in 33 patients by 1HMRS (19 of them also had increased ALT activity /NAFLD/). Chemerin and vaspin levels were significantly higher in children with NAFLD compared to the control group (n = 30). The concentration of chemerin was significantly higher in children with advanced liver steatosis compared to non-hepatopathic patients (p = 0,02). Significant positive correlations were found between the total liver lipids in 1HMRS and chemerin (r = 0,33; p = 0,02) and vaspin (r = 0,4; p = 0,006). The ability of serum chemerin (cut-off = 190 ng/ml, Se = 75%, Sp = 58%) to differentiate children with fatty liver in 1HMRS from those without steatosis was significant (AUC = 0,7, p = 0,04). Omentin and vaspin did not allow a useful prediction to be made.
Chemerin seems to be the most suitable non-invasive biomarker in predicting both intrahepatic lipid content in obese children and advanced liver steatosis in children with NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC4237733  PMID: 25399407
Adipokines; Chemerin; Omentin; Vaspin; Intrahepatic lipid content; NAFLD; Children
21.  Limited Effect of Dietary Saturated Fat on Plasma Saturated Fat in the Context of a Low Carbohydrate Diet 
Lipids  2010;45(10):947-962.
We recently showed that a hypocaloric carbohydrate restricted diet (CRD) had two striking effects: (1) a reduction in plasma saturated fatty acids (SFA) despite higher intake than a low fat diet, and (2) a decrease in inflammation despite a significant increase in arachidonic acid (ARA). Here we extend these findings in 8 weight stable men who were fed two 6-week CRD (12%en carbohydrate) varying in quality of fat. One CRD emphasized SFA (CRD-SFA, 86 g/d SFA) and the other, unsaturated fat (CRD-UFA, 47 g SFA/d). All foods were provided to subjects. Both CRD decreased serum triacylglycerol (TAG) and insulin, and increased LDL-C particle size. The CRD-UFA significantly decreased plasma TAG SFA (27.48 ± 2.89 mol%) compared to baseline (31.06 ± 4.26 mol%). Plasma TAG SFA, however, remained unchanged in the CRD-SFA (33.14 ± 3.49 mol%) despite a doubling in SFA intake. Both CRD significantly reduced plasma palmitoleic acid (16:1n-7) indicating decreased de novo lipogenesis. CRD-SFA significantly increased plasma phospholipid ARA content, while CRD-UFA significantly increased EPA and DHA. Urine 8-iso PGF2α, a free radical-catalyzed product of ARA, was significantly lower than baseline following CRD-UFA (−32%). There was a significant inverse correlation between changes in urine 8-iso PGF2α and PL ARA on both CRD (r = −0.82 CRD-SFA; r = −0.62 CRD-UFA). These findings are consistent with the concept that dietary saturated fat is efficiently metabolized in the presence of low carbohydrate, and that a CRD results in better preservation of plasma ARA.
PMCID: PMC2974193  PMID: 20820932
Saturated fat; Palmitic acid; Palmitoleic acid; Plasma fatty acid composition; Ketogenic diet; Omega-3 eggs; Metabolic syndrome; Insulin sensitivity; Controlled human feeding study; EPA; DHA; LDL/HDL ratio
22.  Mechanisms of hepatic triglyceride accumulation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
Journal of Gastroenterology  2013;48(4):434-441.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by hepatic lipid accumulation in the absence of excess alcohol intake. NAFLD is the most common chronic liver disease, and ongoing research efforts are focused on understanding the underlying pathobiology of hepatic steatosis with the anticipation that these efforts will identify novel therapeutic targets. Under physiological conditions, the low steady-state triglyceride concentrations in the liver are attributable to a precise balance between acquisition by uptake of non-esterified fatty acids from the plasma and by de novo lipogenesis, versus triglyceride disposal by fatty acid oxidation and by the secretion of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. In NAFLD patients, insulin resistance leads to hepatic steatosis by multiple mechanisms. Greater uptake rates of plasma non-esterified fatty acids are attributable to increased release from an expanded mass of adipose tissue as a consequence of diminished insulin responsiveness. Hyperinsulinemia promotes the transcriptional upregulation of genes that promote de novo lipogenesis in the liver. Increased hepatic lipid accumulation is not offset by fatty acid oxidation or by increased secretion rates of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. This review discusses the molecular mechanisms by which hepatic triglyceride homeostasis is achieved under normal conditions, as well as the metabolic alterations that occur in the setting of insulin resistance and contribute to the pathogenesis of NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC3633701  PMID: 23397118
Insulin resistance; Fatty acid; Lipid metabolism
23.  Genetic parameters for milk fatty acids in Danish Holstein cattle based on SNP markers using a Bayesian approach 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:79.
For several years, in human nutrition there has been a focus on the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) and saturated fatty acids (SFA) found in bovine milk. The positive health-related properties of UFA versus SFA have increased the demand for food products with a higher proportion of UFA. To be able to change the UFA and SFA content of the milk by breeding it is important to know whether there is a genetic component underlying the individual FA in the milk. We have estimated the heritability for individual FA in the milk of Danish Holstein. For this purpose we used information of SNP markers instead of the traditional pedigree relationships.
Estimates of heritability were moderate within the range of 0.10 for C18:1 trans-11 to 0.34 for C8:0 and C10:0, whereas the estimates for saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids were 0.14 and 0.18, respectively. Posterior standard deviations were in the range from 0.07 to 0.17. The correlation estimates showed a general pattern of two groups, one group mainly consisting of saturated fatty acids and one group mainly consisting of unsaturated fatty acids. The phenotypic correlation ranged from −0.95 (saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids) to 0.99 (unsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids) and the genomic correlation for fatty acids ranged from −0.29 to 0.91.
The heritability estimates obtained in this study are in general accordance with heritability estimates from studies using pedigree data and/or a genomic relationship matrix in the context of a REML approach. SFA and UFA expressed a strong negative phenotypic correlation and a weaker genetic correlation. This is in accordance with the theory that SFA is synthesized de novo, while UFA can be regulated independently from the regulation of SFA by the feeding regime.
PMCID: PMC3854798  PMID: 24024882
Genomic heritability; Genomic correlation; Bayesian mixed model; Milk fatty acids
24.  Ethnic Differences in Hepatic Steatosis: An insulin resistance paradox? 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2009;49(3):791-801.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a burgeoning problem. We have previously shown that Hispanics were at greater risk for NAFLD than African-Americans despite a similar prevalence of risk factors between these groups. We have performed the largest, population-based study to date (n=2,170) utilizing proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and multi-slice abdominal MR imaging to determine the contribution of body fat distribution to the differing prevalence of hepatic steatosis in the three major U.S. ethnic groups (African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian). Despite controlling for age and total adiposity, African-Americans had less intraperitoneal (IP) fat and more lower extremity (LE) fat than their Hispanic and Caucasian counterparts. The differences in hepatic triglyceride content (HTGC) between these groups remained after controlling for total, abdominal subcutaneous, and LE adiposity; however, controlling for IP fat nearly abolished the differences in HTGC, indicating a close association between IP and liver fat regardless of ethnicity. Despite the lower levels of IP and liver fat in African-Americans, their prevalence of insulin resistance was similar to Hispanics, who had the highest levels of IP and liver fat. Furthermore, insulin levels and HOMAIR values were highest and serum triglyceride levels were lowest among African-Americans after controlling for IP fat. In conclusion, IP fat is linked to HTGC, irrespective of ethnicity. The differing prevalence of hepatic steatosis between these groups was associated with similar differences in visceral adiposity. The metabolic response to obesity and insulin resistance differs in African-Americans when compared to either Hispanics or Caucasians: African-Americans appear to be more resistant to both the accretion of triglyceride in the abdominal visceral compartment (adipose tissue and liver) and hypertriglyceridemia associated with insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC2675577  PMID: 19105205
fatty liver; ethnic groups; African-Americans; Hispanic Americans; obesity; body fat distribution; abdominal fat; intra-abdominal fat; abdominal subcutaneous fat; adiposity; insulin resistance; dyslipidemia; hypertriglyceridemia; metabolic syndrome X
25.  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus: The liver disease of our age? 
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a chronic liver disease that might affect up to one-third of the adult population in industrialised countries. NAFLD incorporates histologically and clinically different non-alcoholic entities; fatty liver (NAFL, steatosis hepatis) and steatohepatitis (NASH-characterised by hepatocyte ballooning and lobular inflammation ± fibrosis) might progress to cirrhosis and rarely to hepatocellular cancer. NAFL increasingly affects children (paediatric prevalence is 4.2%-9.6%). Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), insulin resistance (IR), obesity, metabolic syndrome and NAFLD are particularly closely related. Increased hepatic lipid storage is an early abnormality in insulin resistant women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus. The accumulation of triacylglycerols in hepatocytes is predominantly derived from the plasma nonesterified fatty acid pool supplied largely by the adipose tissue. A few NAFLD susceptibility gene variants are associated with progressive liver disease, IR, T2DM and a higher risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. Although not approved, pharmacological approaches might be considered in NASH patients.
PMCID: PMC4112878  PMID: 25083080
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Liver cirrhosis; Hepatocellular cancer; Dysfunctional adipose tissue; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Insulin resistance; Obesity; Genetics; Therapy

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