Overactivation of intestinal sterol response element-binding protein 2 promotes diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2017 Nov 01; 313(5):G376-G385.AJ
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by lipid accumulation in the liver that may progress to hepatic fibrosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Mechanisms underlying NAFLD and NASH are not yet fully understood. Dietary cholesterol was recently shown to be a risk factor for the development of NASH, suggesting a role for intestinal handling of cholesterol. One important regulator of cholesterol homeostasis is the sterol response element-binding protein-2 (SREBP-2) transcription factor. We tested the hypothesis that the overactivation of intestinal SREBP-2 increases the susceptibility to diet-induced NASH. A transgenic mouse model with intestine-specific overexpression of active SREBP-2 (ISR2 mice) driven by villin promoter was used. ISR2 mice and their wild-type littermates were fed a regular chow diet or a high-fat, high-cholesterol (HFHC) diet (15% fat, 1% cholesterol) for 15 wk. Results showed that HFHC feeding to ISR2 mice caused hepatic inflammation with increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Histological examination demonstrated extensive fibrosis after a HFHC diet associated with a perivascular as well as pericellular collagen deposits in ISR2 mice compared with wild-type littermates. The severe hepatic inflammation and advanced fibrosis in ISR2 mice was not associated with a difference in lipid accumulation in ISR2 mice compared with wild type littermates after HFHC feeding. These data indicate that overactivation of intestinal SREBP2 promotes diet-induced hepatic inflammation with features of human NASH resulting in rapid severe fibrosis and provide a novel link between regulatory processes of intestinal cholesterol and progression of fatty liver.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The current study highlights the role of overactivation of intestinal SREBP-2 transcription factor in the progression of hepatic fibrosis associated with diet-induced NASH. Mice with intestine-specific overexpression of SREBP-2 demonstrated more inflammation and severe fibrosis in the liver in response to 15 wk of being fed a high-cholesterol, high-fat diet as compared with their wild-type littermates. These data demonstrate a novel link between intestinal regulatory processes of cholesterol metabolism and the pathogenesis of fatty liver diseases.