Altered fatty acid metabolism-related gene expression in liver from morbidly obese women with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Dec 2;15(12):22173-87. doi: 10.3390/ijms151222173.


Lipid accumulation in the human liver seems to be a crucial mechanism in the pathogenesis and the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We aimed to evaluate gene expression of different fatty acid (FA) metabolism-related genes in morbidly obese (MO) women with NAFLD. Liver expression of key genes related to de novo FA synthesis (LXRα, SREBP1c, ACC1, FAS), FA uptake and transport (PPARγ, CD36, FABP4), FA oxidation (PPARα), and inflammation (IL6, TNFα, CRP, PPARδ) were assessed by RT-qPCR in 127 MO women with normal liver histology (NL, n = 13), simple steatosis (SS, n = 47) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH, n = 67). Liver FAS mRNA expression was significantly higher in MO NAFLD women with both SS and NASH compared to those with NL (p = 0.003, p = 0.010, respectively). Hepatic IL6 and TNFα mRNA expression was higher in NASH than in SS subjects (p = 0.033, p = 0.050, respectively). Interestingly, LXRα, ACC1 and FAS expression had an inverse relation with the grade of steatosis. These results were confirmed by western blot analysis. In conclusion, our results indicate that lipogenesis seems to be downregulated in advanced stages of SS, suggesting that, in this type of extreme obesity, the deregulation of the lipogenic pathway might be associated with the severity of steatosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / complications*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / genetics*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications*
  • Obesity, Morbid / genetics*
  • Obesity, Morbid / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • Transcription Factors
  • Glucose