PLoS ONE (Jan 2016)

Hepatic Deficiency of Augmenter of Liver Regeneration Exacerbates Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury and Promotes Fibrosis in Mice.

  • Sudhir Kumar,
  • Jiang Wang,
  • Richa Rani,
  • Chandrashekhar R Gandhi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
p. e0147864


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Why only a subpopulation (about 15%) of humans develops liver cirrhosis due to alcohol is a critical as yet unanswered question. Liver-specific depletion of augmenter of liver regeneration (ALR) protein in mice causes robust steatosis and hepatocyte apoptosis by 2 weeks; these pathologies regress subsequently with return of ALR expression even at lower than control levels, but the mice develop modest steatohepatitis by 8 weeks. We aimed to investigate whether chronic alcohol ingestion promotes excessive hepatic fibrosis in these ALR-deficient mice. Liver-specific ALR-deficient and wild type (WT) female mice (8-10 weeks old) were placed on 4% alcohol-supplemented or isocaloric diet for 4 weeks. Liver sections were examined for histopathology, and parameters of steatosis and fibrosis were quantified. The mRNA expression of alcohol dehydrogenase-1, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase-1 and cytochrome P450-2E1 increased in WT mice but decreased in ALR-deficient mice upon alcohol ingestion. While alcohol induced steatosis and mild inflammation in WT mice, ALR-deficient mice showed minimal steatosis, strong hepatocellular injury and inflammation, prominent ductular proliferation, and robust fibrosis. Compared to the WT mice, alcohol feeding of ALR-deficient mice resulted in significantly greater increase in hepatic TNFα and TGFβ, and oxidative stress; there was also hepatic iron accumulation, robust lipid peroxidation and mitochondrial DNA damage. Importantly, similar to ALR-deficient mice, lower hepatic ALR levels in human alcoholic liver cirrhosis were associated with increased iron content, reduced expression of alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, and elevated fibrogenic markers. We conclude that ALR deficiency or anomaly can play a critical role in alcohol-induced hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis, mechanisms of which may involve dysregulation of alcohol metabolism and iron homeostasis, mitochondrial damage and oxidative injury.