Chronic intermittent hypoxia causes hepatitis in a mouse model of diet-induced fatty liver

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007 Oct;293(4):G871-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00145.2007. Epub 2007 Aug 9.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) during sleep. OSA is associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in obese individuals and may contribute to progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease from steatosis to NASH. The purpose of this study was to examine whether CIH induces inflammatory changes in the liver in mice with diet-induced hepatic steatosis. C57BL/6J mice (n = 8) on a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet were exposed to CIH for 6 mo and were compared with mice on the same diet exposed to intermittent air (control; n = 8). CIH caused liver injury with an increase in serum ALT (461 +/- 58 U/l vs. 103 +/- 16 U/l in the control group; P < 0.01) and AST (637 +/- 37 U/l vs. 175 +/- 13 U/l in the control group; P < 0.001), whereas alkaline phosphatase and total bilirubin levels were unchanged. Histology revealed hepatic steatosis in both groups, with mild accentuation of fat staining in the zone 3 hepatocytes in mice exposed to CIH. Animals exposed to CIH exhibited lobular inflammation and fibrosis in the liver, which were not evident in control mice. CIH caused significant increases in lipid peroxidation in serum and liver tissue; significant increases in hepatic levels of myeloperoxidase and proinflammatory cytokines IL-1beta, IL-6, and CXC chemokine MIP-2; a trend toward an increase in TNF-alpha; and an increase in alpha1(I)-collagen mRNA. We conclude that CIH induces lipid peroxidation and inflammation in the livers of mice on a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokine CXCL2 / blood
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Liver / complications*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hepatitis / etiology*
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology


  • Chemokine CXCL2
  • Cxcl2 protein, mouse
  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Fats
  • Glucose