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The effects of diet-induced obesity on hepatocyte insulin signaling pathways and induction of non-alcoholic liver damage

Authors Fatani S, Itua I, Clark P, Wong C, Naderali E

Published 15 March 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 211—219


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Sameer Fatani1, Imose Itua2, Paul Clark3, Christopher Wong3, Ebrahim K Naderali2
1Obesity Biology Unit, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK; 2Department of Health and Applied Social Sciences, Liverpool Hope University, Hope Park, Liverpool UK; 3Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longmoor Lane, Liverpool, UK

Abstract: The prevalence of diet-induced obesity is increasing amongst adults and children worldwide, predisposing millions of people to an array of health problems that include metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. In this study we used experimental animals to investigate the effects of dietary obesity on markers of hepatic insulin signaling as well as structural changes in hepatocytes. Adult male Wistar rats were randomized and assigned to either a control group or a test group. Controls were fed standard laboratory pelleted diet (chow-fed), while the test group had free access to a highly-palatable diet (HPD). After eight weeks, the HPD-fed animals were subdivided into three subgroups and their diets altered as follows: HPD-to-chow, HPD with the addition of fenofibrate given by oral gavage for a further seven weeks, or HPD with vehicle (1% carboxymethylcellulose at 1 mL/kg body weight) given by oral gavage for a further seven weeks, respectively. Untreated diet-fed animals had significantly higher body weight, liver weight, and all measured metabolic profiles compared with chow-fed and treated diet-fed groups. Expression of kinases IRβ, IRS-1, AKt, eNOS, Shc and ERK1/2 were unaffected by obesity, while IRS-2 and P I3 kinase levels were significantly reduced in untreated HPD animals. Compared with chow-fed animals, steatosis and steatohepatitis were almost doubled in animals from untreated HPD, while removal of HPD and fenofibrate-treatment reduced steatosis by 40% and 80% respectively. These data suggest that diet-induced obesity affects intracellular insulin signaling mechanisms, namely IRS-2 and PI 3-kinase, leading to hepatic insulin resistance. Moreover, diet-induced obesity induces fatty liver, an effect which can be reversed by either removal of the source of obesity or treatment with fenofibrate, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha agonist.

Keywords: obesity, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatocyte insulin signaling, fenofibrate

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