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1.  Differential Effects of JNK1 and JNK2 Inhibition on Murine Steatohepatitis and Insulin Resistance 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2009;49(1):87-96.
Activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) has been implicated as a mechanism in the development of steatohepatitis. This finding together with the reported role of JNK signaling in the development of obesity and insulin resistance, two components of the metabolic syndrome and predisposing factors for fatty liver disease, suggest that JNK may be a central mediator of the metabolic syndrome and an important therapeutic target in steatohepatitis. To define the isoform specific functions of JNK in steatohepatitis associated with obesity and insulin resistance, the effects of JNK1 or JNK2 ablation were determined in developing and established steatohepatitis induced by a high fat diet. High fat diet-fed jnk1 null mice failed to develop excessive weight gain, insulin resistance or steatohepatitis. In contrast, jnk2-/- mice fed a high fat diet were obese and insulin resistant similar to wild-type mice and had increased liver injury. In mice with established steatohepatitis, an antisense oligonucleotide knockdown of jnk1 decreased the amount of steatohepatitis in concert with a normalization of insulin sensitivity. Knockdown of jnk2 improved insulin sensitivity but had no effect on hepatic steatosis and markedly increased liver injury. A jnk2 knockdown increased hepatic expression of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members Bim and Bax and the increase in liver injury resulted in part from a Bim-dependent activation of the mitochondrial death pathway.
JNK1 and JNK2 both mediate insulin resistance in high fat diet-fed mice, but the JNK isoforms have distinct effects on steatohepatitis with JNK1 promoting steatosis and hepatitis and JNK2 inhibiting hepatocyte cell death by blocking the mitochondrial death pathway.
PMCID: PMC2614457  PMID: 19053047
antisense oligonucleotides; Bim; high fat diet; metabolic syndrome; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
2.  Dietary Anthocyanins as Nutritional Therapy for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), defined by excessive lipid accumulation in the liver, is the hepatic manifestation of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. Due to the epidemics of obesity, NAFLD is rapidly becoming the leading cause of altered liver enzymes in Western countries. NAFLD encompasses a wide spectrum of liver disease ranging from simple uncomplicated steatosis, to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Diet may affect the development of NAFLD either by increasing risk or by providing protective factors. Therefore, it is important to investigate the role of foods and/or food bioactives on the metabolic processes involved in steatohepatitis for preventive strategies. It has been reported that anthocyanins (ACNs) decrease hepatic lipid accumulation and may counteract oxidative stress and hepatic inflammation, but their impact on NAFLD has yet to be fully determined. ACNs are water-soluble bioactive compounds of the polyphenol class present in many vegetable products. Here, we summarize the evidence evaluating the mechanisms of action of ACNs on hepatic lipid metabolism in different experimental setting: in vitro, in vivo, and in human trials. Finally, a working model depicting the possible mechanisms underpinning the beneficial effects of ACNs in NAFLD is proposed, based on the available literature.
PMCID: PMC3824564  PMID: 24282628
3.  Association Between Metabolic Syndrome and Liver Histology Among Children With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is considered the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome (MetS) among adults. Emerging data suggest that MetS may be associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children as well. We sought to determine whether MetS or its component features are associated with specific histological features or severity of NAFLD.
Children and adolescents aged 6 – 17 years enrolled in the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network (NASH CRN) with clinical data obtained within 6 months of liver biopsy were included. MetS was defined as the presence of three or more of the following features as determined by application of age-adjusted normative values: central obesity, dyslipidemia, impaired fasting glucose, and elevated blood pressure. Liver biopsies were evaluated by the Pathology Committee of the NASH CRN.
Two hundred fifty four children were included in the analysis, of whom 65 (26 %) met specified criteria for MetS. Among children with MetS, there is a higher proportion of females who were on average older in age and pubertal. The risk of MetS was greatest among those with severe steatosis (odds ratio (OR) = 2.58 for grade 3 vs. grade 1 steatosis, P = 0.001). The presence of hepatocellular ballooning was also significantly associated with MetS (OR = 2.10, P = 0.03). Those with advanced fibrosis (stage 3/4) had an OR for MetS of 3.21 (P = 0.04) vs. those without fibrosis (stage 0). Borderline zone 1 or definite NASH patterns compared with “ not NASH ” were strongly associated with MetS (OR = 4.44, P = 0.005 and OR = 4.07, P = 0.002, respectively). The mean NAFLD Activity Score (NAS) was greater among children with MetS vs. those without (4.8 ± 1.4 vs. 4.3 ± 1.4, P = 0.01). Central obesity was significantly associated with steatosis, fibrosis, hepatocellular ballooning, and NAFLD pattern. Insulin resistance was significantly associated with steatosis, fibrosis, hepatocellular ballooning, NAS, and NAFLD pattern.
MetS is common among children with NAFLD and is associated with severity of steatosis, hepatocellular ballooning, NAS, NAFLD pattern, and the presence of advanced fibrosis. Individual MetS features, particularly central obesity and insulin resistance, were also associated with severity of NAFLD. MetS features should be considered in children with NAFLD as individually and collectively they help identify children with more advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC3070291  PMID: 20372110
4.  Steatohepatitis: Risk Factors and Impact on Disease Severity in Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Hepatitis C Virus Coinfection 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2008;47(4):1118-1127.
Hepatic steatosis has been reported in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection. However, the features of steatohepatitis, including cytologic ballooning and pericellular fibrosis, its risk factors, and the impact on disease severity in such patients are unknown. To assess this, we prospectively reviewed liver histology in consecutive coinfected patients to define the prevalence and severity of the features of steatohepatitis, its risk factors, and its impact on the severity of liver disease. A total of 222 subjects (74% male, mean age 45, 78% African American, 90% genotype 1) were studied. The mean body mass index (BMI) was 26, and 18% had a BMI >30. The prevalence of risk factors for steatosis were: diabetes (31%), hypertension (15%), dyslipidemia (8%), metabolic syndrome (9%), and alcohol abuse (21%). Steatosis was present in 23% and steatohepatitis was present in 17%. The steatosis was mild (5%–33%) in 19%, and moderate to severe (>33%) in 4%. Cytologic ballooning and pericellular fibrosis were present in 30% and 13%, respectively. The mean Ishak score was 6.9, and 33% had bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis. Both steatosis and cytologic ballooning were associated with BMI, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance, and presence of either was strongly associated with advanced fibrosis (P < 0.0001). By multiple logistic regressions, the following associations were identified: increased BMI, diabetes, and genotype 3 with steatosis; diabetes with cytologic ballooning; and longer duration of infection with steatohepatitis.
Steatosis and steatohepatitis are present in 23% and 30%, respectively, of patients with HIV/HCV coinfection, and both are associated with an increased risk of having advanced fibrosis. Although we did identify genotype 3, increased BMI, and diabetes as risk factors, we found no independent association with antiretroviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC2394857  PMID: 18366118
5.  Toxicant-Associated Steatohepatitis In Vinyl Chloride Workers 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2010;51(2):474-481.
Although nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is typically associated with obesity, it has also been reported to occur in lean individuals exposed to industrial chemicals. Occupational exposure to vinyl chloride (VC) is a well-documented risk factor for hemangiosarcoma, but has not previously been associated with steatohepatitis. Here, we evaluate liver biopsies from 25 non-obese, highly-exposed, VC workers for steatohepatitis. Next, we evaluate associated metabolic and cytokine abnormalities in affected workers controlled by 26 chemical workers with no to minimal VC exposures, and 11 unexposed, healthy volunteers. Among highly-exposed VC workers, the prevalence of steatohepatitis was 80%. Of these, 55% had fibrosis and four had hemangiosarcoma. We have coined the term, toxicant-associated steatohepatitis (TASH), to describe this condition which was not explained by obesity or alcohol. Although mean serum transaminases were normal in TASH, total cytokeratin18, but not the caspase-cleaved fragment, was elevated. Despite the absence of obesity, workers with TASH had insulin resistance with reduced adiponectin levels. TASH was also associated with markedly elevated serum tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukins 1β, 6, and 8. Serum antioxidant activity was reduced in TASH.
TASH occurred frequently in these non-obese VC workers with high cumulative exposures and normal liver enzymes. Elevated total cytokeratin 18 suggested the presence of necrotic cell death in TASH and may be a useful serologic biomarker. TASH was further characterized by insulin resistance, elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines, and impaired antioxidant defenses. The threshold VC exposure and the role of other chemical agents in TASH are as yet unknown.
PMCID: PMC4019991  PMID: 19902480
nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; polyvinyl chloride; hemangiosarcoma; alcoholic hepatitis; NASH
6.  Mechanisms and Implications of Age-Related Changes in the Liver: Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the Elderly 
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is hepatic steatosis associated with metabolic abnormalities such as overweight/central obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and dyslipidemia. NAFLD is becoming the most common liver disease in contemporary society, with the highest prevalence in those over 60 years. NAFLD pathology ranges from simple steatosis to a necroinflammatory fibrosing disorder called steatohepatitis (SH), the latter associated with high risk of developing cirrhosis, often occuring in the seventh to ninth decades of life. While the main health implications of NAFLD are increased risk of developing T2D, cardiovascular diseases, and common cancers, there is substantantially increased standardized mortality, and deaths from decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Little is known about the interactive effects of ageing and NAFLD, with most studies focusing on the younger population. This paper summarises the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical course of NAFLD, with particular attention to persons over age 60 years. An approach to the management of NASH and its complications in the elderly, will also be presented here.
PMCID: PMC3171768  PMID: 21918648
7.  Single-Lobe Living Donor Liver Transplant in a Morbidly Obese Cirrhotic Patient Preceded by Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy 
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a stage of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and, in most patients, it is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome with progression to end-stage liver disease in about 20% of patients (McCullough (2004); Matteoni et al. (1999); Liou and Kowdley (2006)). It has been estimated that between 20 and 30% of patients with end-stage cirrhosis referred for liver transplantation (LT) evaluation and 30 to 70% of LT recipients exhibit some degree of obesity (Muñoz and ElGenaidi (2005)). Management of obesity in chronic liver disease patients is not only difficult but also preludes them from undergoing major bariatric surgery due to associated high morbidity and mortality. Here, we present a case report of a morbidly obese patient who underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy followed by single-lobe living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) with a successful outcome. We believe that this is the first report of successful LDLT following planned weight loss to facilitate LDLT.
PMCID: PMC3872398  PMID: 24386588
8.  Roles for PI3K/AKT/PTEN Pathway in Cell Signaling of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
ISRN Endocrinology  2013;2013:472432.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common form of liver pathologies and is associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome, which represents a range of fatty liver diseases associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Molecular mechanisms underlying how to make transition from simple fatty liver to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are not well understood. However, accumulating evidence indicates that deregulation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway in hepatocytes is a common molecular event associated with metabolic dysfunctions including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and the NAFLD. A tumor suppressor PTEN negatively regulates the PI3K/AKT pathways through its lipid phosphatase activity. Molecular studies in the NAFLD support a key role for PTEN in hepatic insulin sensitivity and the development of steatosis, steatohepatitis, and fibrosis. We review recent studies on the features of the PTEN and the PI3K/AKT pathway and discuss the protein functions in the signaling pathways involved in the NAFLD. The molecular mechanisms contributing to the diseases are the subject of considerable investigation, as a better understanding of the pathogenesis will lead to novel therapies for a condition.
PMCID: PMC3570922  PMID: 23431468
9.  Pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: New insights and future directions 
World Journal of Hepatology  2014;6(4):217-225.
One of the most common complications of childhood obesity is the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is the most common form of liver disease in children. NAFLD is defined by hepatic fat infiltration > 5% hepatocytes, as assessed by liver biopsy, in the absence of excessive alcohol intake, viral, autoimmune and drug-induced liver disease. It encompasses a wide spectrum of liver diseases ranging from simple steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which, in turn, can evolve into cirrhosis and end stage liver disease. Obesity and insulin resistance are the main risk factors for pediatric NAFLD. In fact, NAFLD is strongly associated with the clinical features of insulin resistance especially the metabolic syndrome, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). In particular, it has been clearly shown in obese youth that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes increases with NAFLD severity progression. Evidence that not all of the obese patients develop NAFLD suggests that the disease progression is likely to depend on complex interplay between environmental factors and genetic predisposition. Recently, a non-synonymous SNP (rs738409), characterized by a C to G substitution encoding an isoleucine to methionine substitution at the amino acid position 148 in the patatin like phospholipase containing domain 3 gene (PNPLA3), has been associated with hepatic steatosis in a multiethnic cohort of adults as well as in children. Another important polymorphisms that acts with PNPLA3 to convey susceptibility to fatty liver in obese youths is the rs1260326 polymorphism in the glucokinase regulatory protein. The pharmacological approach in NAFLD children poorly adherent to or being unresponsive/partially responsive to lifestyle changes, is aimed at acting upon specific targets involved in the pathogenesis. There are some therapeutic approaches that are being studied in children. This article reviews the current knowledge regarding the pediatric fatty liver disease, the new insights and the future directions.
PMCID: PMC4009477  PMID: 24799990
Non alcoholic fatty liver disease; PNPLA3; Obesity; Insulin resistance; Glucokinase regulatory protein; Fructose
10.  Fatty Liver: a Link to Cardiovascular Disease – Its Natural History, Pathogenesis, and Treatment 
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most prevalent liver disease in western society and is increasing in parallel with the worldwide epidemic of obesity. It exists in a simple form, steatosis, or a more complex and more dangerous form, steatohepatitis, and it is often but not always associated with the metabolic syndrome. NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. It is responsible for the majority of cryptogenic cirrhosis cases. Increasingly, NAFLD and its more sinister form, steatohepatitis, have been linked to the increased incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) worldwide, independent of the metabolic syndrome. Death from CVD surpasses death from liver complications, but that is beginning to change as people are living longer with CVD. In this article, we will review nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and its epidemiology, prevalence, pathology, and link to CVD.
PMCID: PMC3487573  PMID: 23227282
fatty liver disease; metabolic syndrome; cardiovascular disease; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
11.  Pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: an increasing public health issue 
European Journal of Pediatrics  2013;173:131-139.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a multifactorial condition that encompasses a wide spectrum of liver abnormalities ranging from simple liver steatosis to steatohepatitis (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), which may be associated with fibrosis and progress to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. NAFLD has recently become the most common cause of chronic liver disease in children and adolescents. NAFLD prevalence, alongside obesity, continues to increase among pediatric patients. Obesity is believed to represent a major risk factor for NAFLD, which is considered to be the liver presentation of the metabolic syndrome. Although the pathogenesis of NAFLD is not fully understood, the notion that multiple factors affect disease development and progression is widely accepted. Both genetic background and environmental factors contribute to NAFLD development. A more complete understanding of the pathogenesis may aid in developing non-invasive diagnostic tools and identifying new therapeutic targets. Liver biopsy currently remains the gold standard for NAFLD diagnosis and staging. Although lifestyle and diet modifications are key in NAFLD treatment, the development of new pharmacological therapies is crucial for patients who are unresponsive to first-line therapy. Conclusion: Pediatric NAFLD is an increasing public health issue that remains underdiagnosed. A large-scale screening in the high-risk population, especially among the overweight pediatric patients, should be considered, including measurement of serum transaminases and liver ultrasound. It is crucial to treat this condition as soon as possible in order to avoid the progression to end-stage liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3929043  PMID: 24068459
Liver fibrosis; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Pediatric patients; Steatohepatitis
12.  Effects of pioglitazone on nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in a patient with anorexia nervosa: A case report 
Diseases associated with metabolic syndromes are of major concern in developed countries. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is one of the manifestations of metabolic syndrome in the liver. Previous studies have shown that NASH is also caused by malnutrition. In the present study, a case of malnutrition-associated NASH in a 66-year-old female with anorexia nervosa is reported. The patient had a body mass index (BMI) of only 11.1 kg/m2 and serum alanine aminotransferase levels of 1,495 IU/l. Steatohepatitis with fibrosis was confirmed by percutaneous liver needle biopsy. Total parenteral nutrition was conducted at first, followed by the administration of Stronger Neo-Minophagen C (a glycyrrhizin-containing preparation), ursodeoxycholic acid and prednisolone. The abnormal elevation of aminotransferase levels of the patient was prolonged and total bilirubin levels increased. Pioglitazone (15 mg/day), which has been identified to be effective for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, was then administered. This resulted in marked reductions in aminotransferase and bilirubin levels within three months. Histological improvement of the liver was also confirmed by percutaneous liver needle biopsy after one year. The observations in the present case suggest that pioglitazone may be useful for the treatment of malnutrition-associated NASH.
PMCID: PMC3961108  PMID: 24669237
steatohepatitis; malnutrition; pioglitazone
13.  New Insights from Rodent Models of Fatty Liver Disease 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;15(2):535-550.
Rodent models of fatty liver disease are essential research tools that provide a window into disease pathogenesis and a testing ground for prevention and treatment. Models come in many varieties involving dietary and genetic manipulations, and sometimes both. High-energy diets that induce obesity do not uniformly cause fatty liver disease; this has prompted close scrutiny of specific macronutrients and nutrient combinations to determine which have the greatest potential for hepatotoxicity. At the same time, diets that do not cause obesity or the metabolic syndrome but do cause severe steatohepatitis have been exploited to study factors important to progressive liver injury, including cell death, oxidative stress, and immune activation. Rodents with a genetic predisposition to overeating offer yet another model in which to explore the evolution of fatty liver disease. In some animals that overeat, steatohepatitis can develop even without resorting to a high-energy diet. Importantly, these models and others have been used to document that aerobic exercise can prevent or reduce fatty liver disease. This review focuses primarily on lessons learned about steatohepatitis from manipulations of diet and eating behavior. Numerous additional insights about hepatic lipid metabolism, which have been gained from genetically engineered mice, are also mentioned. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 15, 535–550.
PMCID: PMC3118700  PMID: 21126212
14.  Prospective Study of Optimal Obesity Index Cutoffs for Predicting Development of Multiple Metabolic Risk Factors: The Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study 
Journal of Epidemiology  2012;22(5):433-439.
In this prospective cohort study, we estimated the risk of developing more than 1 metabolic risk factor, using different obesity indices. In addition, we investigated the relative usefulness of the obesity indices for predicting development of such risk factors and calculated optimal cutoffs for the obesity indices.
The cohort comprised 10 038 representative residents of a small city and a rural county who were recruited in 2001–2002. Follow-up examinations were conducted every 2 years. Among the 3857 participants without metabolic syndrome at baseline, 1102 new cases occurred during the 6-year follow-up. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for the obesity indices were plotted to compare the usefulness of the obesity indices.
The numbers of new cases of multiple metabolic risk factors among people in the highest quintiles of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-hip ratio (WHR), and waist-height ratio at the baseline examination were 2 to 3 times those in the lowest quintiles. The area under the ROC curve for WHR was significantly higher than that for BMI. The optimal BMI cutoff was 24 kg/m2 in men and women, and the optimal WC cutoffs were 80 cm and 78 cm in men and women, respectively.
Both overall obesity and central obesity predicted risk of developing multiple metabolic risk factors, and WHR appeared to be a better discriminator than BMI. To prevent development of metabolic diseases among Koreans, it might be useful to lower the cutoff for abdominal obesity, as defined by WC.
PMCID: PMC3798638  PMID: 22955044
obesity; metabolic risk factors; cohort; Korean
15.  Liver histology according to the presence of metabolic syndrome in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease cases 
AIM: To investigate the histologic features of the liver in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) cases according to the presence of metabolic syndrome or its individual components.
METHODS: We enrolled 81 patients (40 male, 41 female) who were diagnosed with fatty liver by ultrasonographic scan and fulfilled the inclusion criteria. First anamnesis, anthropometric, clinical, laboratory and imaging features of all participants were recorded and then liver biopsy was performed after gaining consent from patients. Diagnosis of metabolic syndrome was dependent on patients having 3 or more out of 5 risk criteria defined by the WHO. Biopsy specimens were assessed according to Brunt et al’s classification.
RESULTS: Sixty-nine of the 81 patients had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), 11 had simple fatty liver and 1 had cirrhosis according to histologic evaluation. Comparisons were made between two groups of NASH patients, those with and without metabolic syndrome. We did not detect statistically significant differences in liver histology between NASH patients with and without metabolic syndrome.
CONCLUSION: NASH can progress without metabolic risk factors or the presence of metabolic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2655181  PMID: 19266602
Liver histology; Fatty liver; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Metabolic risk factors; Metabolic syndrome
16.  Diabetic liver injury from streptozotocin is regulated through the caspase-8 homolog cFLIP involving activation of JNK2 and intrahepatic immunocompetent cells 
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(7):e712-.
The endemic occurrence of obesity and the associated risk factors that constitute the metabolic syndrome have been predicted to lead to a dramatic increase in chronic liver disease. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has become the most frequent liver disease in countries with a high prevalence of obesity. In addition, hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance have been implicated in disease progression of other liver diseases, including chronic viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The molecular mechanisms underlying the link between insulin signaling and hepatocellular injury are only partly understood. We have explored the role of the antiapoptotic caspase-8 homolog cellular FLICE-inhibitory protein (cFLIP) on liver cell survival in a diabetic model with hypoinsulinemic diabetes in order to delineate the role of insulin signaling on hepatocellular survival. cFLIP regulates cellular injury from apoptosis signaling pathways, and loss of cFLIP was previously shown to promote injury from activated TNF and CD95/Apo-1 receptors. In mice lacking cFLIP in hepatocytes (flip−/−), loss of insulin following streptozotocin treatment resulted in caspase- and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)-dependent liver injury after 21 days. Substitution of insulin, inhibition of JNK using the SP600125 compound in vivo or genetic deletion of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)9 (JNK2) in all tissues abolished the injurious effect. Strikingly, the difference in injury between wild-type and cFLIP-deficient mice occurred only in vivo and was accompanied by liver-infiltrating inflammatory cells with a trend toward increased amounts of NK1.1-positive cells and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Transfer of bone marrow from rag-1-deficient mice that are depleted from B and T lymphocytes prevented liver injury in flip−/− mice. These findings support a direct role of insulin on cellular survival by alternating the activation of injurious MAPK, caspases and the recruitment of inflammatory cells to the liver. Thus, increasing resistance to insulin signaling pathways in hepatocytes appears to be an important factor in the initiation and progression of chronic liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3730402  PMID: 23828575
apoptosis; liver injury; JNK2; hyperglycemia; cFLIP
17.  Gallstone Disease Is Associated with More Severe Liver Damage in Patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41183.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and gallstone disease (GD) are both highly prevalent in the general population and associated with obesity and insulin resistance. We aimed to evaluate the prevalence of GD in a cross sectional study of NAFLD patients and to define whether the presence of GD is associated with diabetes and predicts more severe liver disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We merged databases of four Liver Units, comprising 524 consecutive biopsy-proven NAFLD (373 males) observed between January 2003 and June 2010. GD was diagnosed in 108 (20%), and 313 cases (60%) were classified by liver biopsy as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The GD subgroup was characterized by a significantly higher prevalence of females, prediabetes/diabetes, abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome, older age, higher BMI, fasting glucose, HOMA-IR and lower ALT. The prevalence of GD progressively increased with advancing fibrosis and with the severity of necroinflammatory activity (p for trend  = 0.0001 and  = 0.01, respectively), without differences in the severity of steatosis. At multivariate analysis GD was associated with female gender (OR 1.37, 95% CI 1.04–1.8), age (OR 1.027, 95% CI1.003–1.05), fasting glucose (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.10–1.33) and NASH (OR 1.40,95% CI 1.06–1.89), whereas ALT levels were associated with a lower GD risk (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.97–0.99). When subjects with cirrhosis were excluded from analysis, the association between GD and fasting glucose, female gender, and NASH was maintained.
Patients with NAFLD have a high prevalence of GD, which characterizes subjects with altered glucose regulation and more advanced liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3405067  PMID: 22848440
18.  Nutritional Model of Steatohepatitis and Metabolic Syndrome in the Ossabaw Miniature Swine 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2009;50(1):56-67.
Miniature pigs residing in the Ossabaw Island (Ossabaw pigs) exhibit a thrifty genotype, and when fed a high-calorie diet they consistently develop metabolic syndrome defined by obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. We conducted a study to induce steatohepatitis in Ossabaw pigs by dietary manipulation. Pigs were fed standard chow (controls, n = 15), high-fructose diet (20% kcal from fructose and 10.5% kcal from fat) (fructose group, n = 9), atherogenic diet (20% kcal from fructose and 46% kcal from fat and 2% cholesterol and 0.7% cholate by weight) (atherogenic diet group, n = 13), and modified atherogenic diet (different source of fat and higher protein but lower choline content) (M-Ath diet group, n = 7). All animals were sacrificed at 24 weeks after dietary intervention. The high-fructose group had significant weight gain, hypertension, and insulin resistance but showed normal liver histology. The atherogenic diet group had metabolic syndrome and abnormal liver histology consisting of significant microvesicular steatosis and fatty Kupffer cells but no ballooning or fibrosis. The M-Ath diet group developed severe metabolic syndrome and markedly abnormal liver histology with macrovesicular and microvesicular steatosis, fatty Kupffer cells, extensive hepatocyte ballooning, and pericellular/perisinusoidal fibrosis. Compared with controls, the M-Ath diet group had significantly lower serum adiponectin but higher serum leptin and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) levels and higher hepatic triglyceride and malondialdehyde levels.
Ossabaw pigs fed a modified atherogenic diet develop severe metabolic syndrome and abnormal liver histology with close resemblance to human nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
PMCID: PMC3254146  PMID: 19434740
19.  Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Among Patients with Resectable Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma 
Background and Aims
The objective of this report was to determine the prevalence of underlying nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in resectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
Demographics, comorbidities, clinicopathologic characteristics, surgical treatments, and outcomes from patients who underwent resection of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma at one of eight hepatobiliary centers between 1991 and 2011 were reviewed.
Of 181 patients who underwent resection for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, 31 (17.1 %) had underlying nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis were more likely obese (median body mass index, 30.0 vs. 26.0 kg/m2, p<0.001) and had higher rates of diabetes mellitus (38.7 vs. 22.0 %, p=0.05) and the metabolic syndrome (22.6 vs. 10.0 %, p=0.05) compared with those without nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Presence and severity of hepatic steatosis, lobular inflammation, and hepatocyte ballooning were more common among nonalcoholic steatohepatitis patients (all p<0.001). Macrovascular (35.5 vs. 11.3 %, p=0.01) and any vascular (48.4 vs. 26.7 %, p=0.02) tumor invasion were more common among patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. There were no differences in recurrence-free (median, 17.0 versus 19.4 months, p=0.42) or overall (median, 31.5 versus 36.3 months, p=0.97) survival after surgical resection between patients with and without nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis affects up to 20 % of patients with resectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4007003  PMID: 23355033
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score
20.  Diet-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in genetically predisposed mice 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(16):2975-2988.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading causes of cancer death worldwide, with ∼70% of cases resulting from hepatitis B and C viral infections, aflatoxin exposure, chronic alcohol use or genetic liver diseases. The remaining ∼30% of cases are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and related metabolic diseases, although a direct link between these pathologies and HCCs has not been established. We tested the long-term effects of high-fat and low-fat diets on males of two inbred strains of mice and discovered that C57BL/6J but not A/J males were susceptible to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and HCC on a high-fat but not low-fat diet. This strain–diet interaction represents an important model for genetically controlled, diet-induced HCC. Susceptible mice showed morphological characteristics of NASH (steatosis, hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis), dysplasia and HCC. mRNA profiles of HCCs versus tumor-free liver showed involvement of two signaling networks, one centered on Myc and the other on NFκB, similar to signaling described for the two major classes of HCC in humans. miRNA profiles revealed dramatically increased expression of a cluster of miRNAs on the X chromosome without amplification of the chromosomal segment. A switch from high-fat to low-fat diet reversed these outcomes, with switched C57BL/6J males being lean rather than obese and without evidence for NASH or HCCs at the end of the study. A similar diet modification may have important implications for prevention of HCCs in humans.
PMCID: PMC2714725  PMID: 19454484
21.  Histological Remission during Corticosteroid Therapy of Overlapping Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis and Autoimmune Hepatitis: Case Report and Literature Review 
Case Reports in Gastroenterology  2011;5(3):553-557.
Concurrence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a rare condition that is challenging to diagnosis, due to the relatively high prevalence of autoantibodies in NASH. It is also difficult to determine the most effective treatment as corticosteroids are likely to worsen NASH despite being effective in the treatment of AIH. In this case report, we present a female diagnosed with NASH-AIH overlap with accompanying diabetes mellitus, who successfully achieved normalization of serum alanine aminotransferase levels following prednisolone therapy and weight loss. A follow-up liver biopsy performed 40 months after the initial diagnosis showed only minimal inflammatory infiltrates in the portal area without any NASH histology. Resolution of NASH, in conjunction with a reduction in hepatic fibrosis, might suggest that prednisolone itself does not aggravate steatohepatitis, but rather prevents disease progression. Appropriate immunosuppressive treatment may therefore be an important component of the optimum therapy for NASH-AIH overlap.
PMCID: PMC3219477  PMID: 22110414
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Autoimmune hepatitis; Corticosteroid therapy; Histological remission
22.  Severe steatohepatitis with hepatic decompensation resulting from malnutrition after pancreaticoduodenectomy 
Clinical and molecular hepatology  2012;18(4):404-410.
The most common finding related to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is obesity, but a status of severe malnutrition can also induce the steatohepatitis. The authors report a rare case of steatohepatitis leading to hepatic decompensation caused by malnutrition after pancreaticoduodenectomy. A 68-year-old female patient who had been previously diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had undergone pancreaticoduodenectomy 5 months previously presented with abdominal distension. Routine CT performed 3 months after the surgery revealed severe fatty liver without evidence of tumor recurrence. After undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy her food intake had reduced, and as a result she had lost 7 kg of body weight over 2 months. At this admission, CT revealed moderate amounts of ascites without tumor recurrence. Furthermore, her albumin and lipid profile levels were markedly decreased, and she had a flapping tremor and slurred speech suggestive of hepatic encephalopathy. Her liver biopsy findings were consistent with steatohepatitis and disclosed macrovesicular steatosis without definite fibrosis. After careful nutritional control, her symptoms disappeared and her laboratory findings improved.
PMCID: PMC3540378  PMID: 23323257
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Malnutrition; Pancreaticoduodenectomy; Pancreatic cancer; Hepatic decompensation
23.  Metabolic syndrome and postmenopausal breast cancer in the ORDET cohort: a nested case-control study 
Background and aims
The increase in breast cancer incidence over recent decades has been accompanied by an increase in the frequency of metabolic syndrome. Several studies suggest that breast cancer risk is associated with the components of metabolic syndrome (high serum glucose and triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity), but no prospective study has investigated risk in relation to the presence of explicitly defined metabolic syndrome. We investigated associations between metabolic syndrome, its components, and breast cancer risk in a nested case-control study on postmenopausal women of the ORDET cohort.
Methods and results
After a median follow-up of 13.5 years, 163 women developed breast cancer; metabolic syndrome was present in 29.8%. Four matched controls per case were selected by incidence density sampling, and rate ratios were estimated by conditional logistic regression. Metabolic syndrome (i.e. presence of three or more metabolic syndrome components) was significantly associated with breast cancer risk (rate ratio 1.58 [95% confidence interval 1.07–2.33]), with a significant risk increase for increasing number of components (P for trend 0.004). Among individual metabolic syndrome components, only low serum HDL-cholesterol and high triglycerides were significantly associated with increased risk.
This prospective study indicates that metabolic syndrome is an important risk factor for breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Although serum HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides had the strongest association with breast cancer, all components may contribute to increased risk by multiple interacting mechanisms. Prevention or reversal of metabolic syndrome by life-style changes may be effective in preventing breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
PMCID: PMC2819536  PMID: 19361966
metabolic syndrome; postmenopausal; breast cancer; nested case-control study; ORDET cohort
24.  Metabolic Health Is a More Important Determinant for Diabetes Development than Simple Obesity: A 4-Year Retrospective Longitudinal Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98369.
Recent studies report the importance of metabolic health beyond obesity. The aim of this study is to compare the risk for diabetes development according to different status of metabolic health and obesity over a median follow-up of 48.7 months.
6,748 non-diabetic subjects (mean age 43 years) were divided into four groups according to the baseline metabolic health and obesity status: metabolically healthy non-obese (MHNO), metabolically healthy obese (MHO), metabolically unhealthy non-obese (MUHNO) and metabolically unhealthy obese (MUHO). Being metabolically healthy was defined by having less than 2 components among the 5 components, that is, high blood pressure, high fasting blood glucose, high triglyceride, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and being in the highest decile of homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index. Obesity status was assessed by body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 kg/m2. The development of diabetes was assessed annually from self-questionnaire, fasting glucose and HbA1c.
At baseline, 45.3% of the subjects were MHNO, 11.3% were MHO, 21.7% were MUHNO, and 21.7% were MUHO. During a median follow-up of 48.7 months, 277 subject (4.1%) developed diabetes. The hazard ratio for diabetes development was 1.338 in MHO group (95% CI 0.67–2.672), 4.321 in MUHNO group (95% CI 2.702–6.910) and 5.994 in MUHO group (95% CI 3.561–10.085) when MHNO group was considered as the reference group. These results were similar after adjustment for the changes of the risk factors during the follow-up period.
The risk for future diabetes development was higher in metabolically unhealthy subgroups compared with those of metabolically healthy subjects regardless of obesity status.
PMCID: PMC4037196  PMID: 24870949
25.  Obesity, Visceral Fat, and NAFLD: Querying the Role of Adipokines in the Progression of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2011;2011:592404.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents a spectrum of clinicopathologic conditions ranging from steatosis alone to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), with varying risks for progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. There is mounting evidence that NAFLD not only complicates obesity, but also perpetuates its metabolic consequences. Critical event that leads to progressive liver injury in NAFLD is unknown. Obesity reflects a generalized proinflammatory state with its increased inflammatory markers like C reactive protein, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, PAI-1, TNF-α, and hepatocyte growth factor. The elevated production of these adipokines is increasingly considered to be important in the development of diseases linked to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Disordered cytokine production is likely to play a role in the pathogenesis of NAFLD. There is no effective treatment for NAFLD, though weight loss may halt disease progression and revert histological changes, the underlying mechanism remaining elusive. All stages of the disease pathway from prevention, early identification/diagnosis, and treatment require an understanding of the pathogenesis of liver injury in NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC3168494  PMID: 21991518

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