Objectives: The tumor necrosis factor superfamily member 14, LIGHT (homologous to lymphotoxin, exhibits inducible expression, and competes with HSV glycoprotein D for herpes virus entry mediator (HVEM), a receptor expressed by T lymphocytes), has been involved in various autoimmune disorders and has been shown to influence hepatic lipid metabolism. We hypothesized that LIGHT could also have a pathogenic role in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Methods: Serum levels of LIGHT in NAFLD patients and control subjects, as well as LIGHT and interleukin (IL)-8 released from Huh7 (human hepatoma cell line) hepatocytes, were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The mRNA expression of LIGHT in the liver tissue and mRNA levels of LIGHT and IL-8 in Huh7 hepatocytes were assessed by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR.
Results: (i) Serum levels of LIGHT were significantly elevated in NAFLD patients (n=66) as compared with healthy controls (n=16), with no differences between simple steatosis (n=34) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) (n=32). (ii) Within the liver, NAFLD patients (n=14) had significantly increased mRNA levels of the two LIGHT receptors, herpes virus entry mediator and lymphotoxin β receptor (LTβR), as compared with controls (n=7), with no difference between simple steatosis (n=8) and NASH (n=6). (iii) LIGHT markedly increased the release of IL-8 in Huh7 hepatocytes in a time- and dose-dependent manner. (iv) The reactive oxygen species (ROS) H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) enhanced the LIGHT-mediated release of IL-8 in Huh7 hepatocytes.
Conclusion: We show increased levels of LIGHT and its two membrane-bound receptors in NAFLD, potentially promoting hepatic inflammation through ROS interaction. Our findings should encourage further studies on the role of LIGHT in NAFLD development and progression.