Background: Oxidative stress underlies the etiopathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a potent endogenous antioxidant gene that plays a key role in decreasing oxidative stress. Sirtuin1 (SIRT1) belongs to the family of NAD-dependent de-acyetylases and is modulated by cellular redox.
Hypothesis: We hypothesize that fructose-induced obesity creates an inflammatory and oxidative environment conducive to the development of NAFLD and metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study is to determine whether HO-1 acts through SIRT1 to form a functional module within hepatocytes to attenuate steatohepatitis, hepatic fibrosis and cardiovascular dysfunction.
Methods and results: We examined the effect of fructose, on hepatocyte lipid accumulation and fibrosis in murine hepatocytes and in mice fed a high fructose diet in the presence and absence of CoPP, an inducer of HO-1, and SnMP, an inhibitor of HO activity. Fructose increased oxidative stress markers and decreased HO-1 and SIRT1 levels in hepatocytes (p<0.05). Further fructose supplementation increased FAS, PPARα, pAMPK and triglycerides levels; CoPP negated this increase. Concurrent treatment with CoPP and SIRT1 siRNA in hepatocytes increased FAS, PPARα, pAMPK and triglycerides levels suggesting that HO-1 is upstream of SIRT1 and suppression of SIRT1 attenuates the beneficial effects of HO-1. A high fructose diet increased insulin resistance, blood pressure, markers of oxidative stress and lipogenesis along with fibrotic markers in mice (p<0.05). Increased levels of HO-1 increased SIRT1 levels and ameliorated fructose-mediated lipid accumulation and fibrosis in liver along with decreasing vascular dysfunction (p<0.05 vs. fructose). These beneficial effects of CoPP were reversed by SnMP.
Conclusion: Taken together, our study demonstrates, for the first time, that HO-1 induction attenuates fructose-induced hepatic lipid deposition, prevents the development of hepatic fibrosis and abates NAFLD-associated vascular dysfunction; effects that are mediated by activation of SIRT1 gene expression.