Aim: To investigate the synergistic hepato-protective properties of curcumin and vitamin E in an Hfe-/- high calorie diet model of steatohepatitis.
Methods: Hfe-/- C57BL/6J mice were fed either a high calorie diet or a high calorie diet with 1 mg/g curcumin; 1.5 mg/g vitamin E; or combination of 1 mg/g curcumin + 1.5 mg/g vitamin E for 20 wk. Serum and liver tissue were collected at the completion of the experiment. Liver histology was graded by a pathologist for steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis. RNA and protein was extracted from liver tissue to examine gene and protein expression associated with fatty acid oxidation, mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative stress pathways.
Results: Hfe-/- mice fed the high calorie diet developed steatohepatitis and pericentral fibrosis. Combination treatment with curcumin and vitamin E resulted in a greater reduction of percent steatosis than either vitamin E or curcumin therapy alone. Serum alanine aminotransferase and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) activity score were decreased following combination therapy with curcumin and vitamin E compared with high calorie diet alone. No changes were observed in inflammatory or fibrosis markers following treatment. Epididymal fat pad weights were significantly reduced following combination therapy, however total body weight and liver weight were unchanged. Combination therapy increased the mRNA expression of AdipoR2, Ppar-α, Cpt1a, Nrf-1 and Tfb2m suggesting enhanced fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis. In addition, combination treatment resulted in increased catalase activity in Hfe-/- mice.
Conclusion: Combination curcumin and vitamin E treatment decreases liver injury in this steatohepatitis model, indicating that combination therapy may be of value in NAFLD.
Keywords: Hemochromatosis; High calorie diet; Iron overload; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Steatosis.