Heat Shock Protein 27 is down-regulated in Ballooned Hepatocytes of Patients with Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 3;6:22528. doi: 10.1038/srep22528.


Ballooning degeneration (BD) of hepatocytes is a distinguishing histological feature associated with the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Under the assumption that NAFLD severity is associated with metabolic-stress we explored the hypothesis that heat shock 27 kDa protein 1 (HSP27), a protein chaperone involved in stress resistance and cytoskeletal-remodeling, might be deregulated in ballooned hepatocytes. We observed that fasting plasma glucose (fpG) (p = 0.00002), total cholesterol (p = 0.02) and triglycerides (p = 0.01) levels, and female sex (p = 0.01) were significantly associated with the presence of BD. A logistic regression model showed that BD was independently associated with fpG (p = 0.002); OR per unit of glucose concentration 1.05, 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.09. Furthermore, BD was associated with a significant 2.24-fold decrease in the expression level of HSP27-mRNA in comparison with absence of ballooning, p = 0.002. Ballooned hepatocytes showed very low HSP27 immunoreactivity compared with hepatocyes without ballooning (p = 0.009); HSP27 immunoreactivity was inversely correlated with fpG levels (R: -0.49, p = 0.01). In conclusion, BD is associated with down-regulation of liver HSP27 gene and protein expression, suggesting that ballooned hepatocytes fail to ensure a robust physiological response to metabolic-induced stress.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Female
  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy


  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSPB1 protein, human