Co-exposure to benzo[a]pyrene and ethanol induces a pathological progression of liver steatosis in vitro and in vivo

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 13;8(1):5963. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24403-1.


Hepatic steatosis (i.e. lipid accumulation) and steatohepatitis have been related to diverse etiologic factors, including alcohol, obesity, environmental pollutants. However, no study has so far analyzed how these different factors might interplay regarding the progression of liver diseases. The impact of the co-exposure to the environmental carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) and the lifestyle-related hepatotoxicant ethanol, was thus tested on in vitro models of steatosis (human HepaRG cell line; hybrid human/rat WIF-B9 cell line), and on an in vivo model (obese zebrafish larvae). Steatosis was induced prior to chronic treatments (14, 5 or 7 days for HepaRG, WIF-B9 or zebrafish, respectively). Toxicity and inflammation were analyzed in all models; the impact of steatosis and ethanol towards B[a]P metabolism was studied in HepaRG cells. Cytotoxicity and expression of inflammation markers upon co-exposure were increased in all steatotic models, compared to non steatotic counterparts. A change of B[a]P metabolism with a decrease in detoxification was detected in HepaRG cells under these conditions. A prior steatosis therefore enhanced the toxicity of B[a]P/ethanol co-exposure in vitro and in vivo; such a co-exposure might favor the appearance of a steatohepatitis-like state, with the development of inflammation. These deleterious effects could be partly explained by B[a]P metabolism alterations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / adverse effects*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Zebrafish


  • Biomarkers
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Ethanol