Essential pathogenic and metabolic differences in steatosis induced by choline or methione-choline deficient diets in a rat model

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Sep;22(9):1526-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2006.04701.x.


Background and aim: Choline deficient (CD) and methione-choline deficient (MCD) diets are rodent models for steatosis, with potentially dissimilar biochemical backgrounds. The aim of this study was to assess the metabolic and pathological derangements in rats fed CD and MCD diets.

Methods: Male Wistar rats received CD or MCD diet up to 7 weeks. Nutritional status, liver histopathology, Kupffer cell-mediated inflammation and injury, oxidative stress via thiobarbituric reactive species (TBARS), hepatic and plasma glutathione (GSH) and insulin homeostasis were assessed.

Results: In CD-fed rats, mainly microvesicular steatosis developed with occasional inflammatory cells. In MCD-fed rats, macrovesicular steatosis progressed to steatohepatitis (collagen deposition, activated stellate cells). Hepatic TBARS was increased and GSH decreased in the MCD-fed rats compared to no changes in the CD-fed rats. The CD-fed rats developed obesity, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance, in contrast to undetectable plasma lipids, unaffected insulin homeostasis and loss of body weight in the MCD-fed rats.

Conclusions: The CD diet induced uncomplicated steatosis as compared to progressive inflammation and fibrinogenesis in the MCD diet. CD and MCD diets represent two pathogenically different models of steatosis. Although equivalence for the outcome of both diets can be found in clinical steatosis, the results of models using these diets should be compared with caution.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choline Deficiency*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Liver / chemically induced*
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipids / physiology
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Methionine / deficiency*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Methionine