Alcoholic liver disease encompasses a wide spectrum of pathogenesis including steatosis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and alcoholic steatohepatitis. Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation process that degrades cellular proteins and damaged/excess organelles, and serves as a protective mechanism in response to various stresses. Acute alcohol treatment induces autophagy via FoxO3a-mediated autophagy gene expression and protects against alcohol-induced steatosis and liver injury in mice. Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) is a nuclear receptor that regulates cellular bile acid homeostasis. In the present study, wild type and FXR knockout (KO) mice were treated with acute ethanol for 16h. We found that ethanol treated-FXR KO mice had exacerbated hepatotoxicity and steatosis compared to wild type mice. Furthermore, we found that ethanol treatment had decreased expression of various essential autophagy genes and several other FoxO3 target genes in FXR KO mice compared with wild type mice. Mechanistically, we did not find a direct interaction between FXR and FoxO3. Ethanol-treated FXR KO mice had increased Akt activation, increased phosphorylation of FoxO3 resulting in decreased FoxO3a nuclear retention and DNA binding. Furthermore, ethanol treatment induced hepatic mitochondrial spheroid formation in FXR KO mice but not in wild type mice, which may serve as a compensatory alternative pathway to remove ethanol-induced damaged mitochondria in FXR KO mice. These results suggest that lack of FXR impaired FoxO3a-mediated autophagy and in turn exacerbated alcohol-induced liver injury.
Keywords: Alcohol; Autophagy; Farnesoid X receptor; FoxO3a; Liver injury.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.