Heme Oxygenase-1 Protects Against Steatohepatitis in Both Cultured Hepatocytes and Mice
ABSTRACT Background & AimsHeme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an antioxidant defense enzyme, has been shown to protect against oxidant-induced tissue injury. We investigated the role of HO-1 in nutritional steatohepatitis in vitro and in vivo.MethodsAML-12 hepatocytes were cultured in methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) medium. Cells were transfected with an adenovirus vector that expressed HO-1 (Ad-HO-1) or incubated with the HO-1 inducer hemin or the HO-1 inhibitor stannic mesoporphyrin for 24 hours. C57BL6 mice and db/db mice were fed MCD or control diets, with or without hemin, for up to 4 weeks.ResultsAML-12 cells exposed to MCD medium developed significant steatosis, increased release of alanine aminotransferase, and showed signs of oxidative injury. Incubation with hemin induced HO-1 protein, suppressed steatosis, and reduced levels of alanine aminotransferase and lipid peroxidation. A comparable effect was observed in cells transfected with Ad-HO-1, whereas incubation of these cells with stannic mesoporphyrin completely abolished the Ad-HO-1− or hemin-mediated protection of hepatocytes. Mice injected with hemin significantly attenuated MCD-induced steatohepatitis and increased HO-1 protein and activity. This effect was associated with up-regulation of antioxidant chaperones and enzymes, down-regulation of proinflammatory cytokines, and up-regulation of the anti-inflammatory interleukin-22. Moreover, the reduction in steatosis caused by hemin was affected by up-regulation of peroxisome proliferator−activated receptor-α and by down-regulation of sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c.ConclusionsHO-1 can interrupt progression of nutritional steatohepatitis by inducing an antioxidant pathway, suppressing production of cytokines, and modifying fatty acid turnover. Induction of HO-1 might provide a new approach for treatment of steatohepatitis.