Adropin protects against liver injury in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis via the Nrf2 mediated antioxidant capacity

Redox Biol. 2019 Feb;21:101068. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.101068. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Adropin, a secretory signal peptide, has shown beneficial effects on improving glucose homeostasis and dyslipidemia. However, whether this peptide affects nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has remained unclear. In this study, the serum adropin levels, liver injury and oxidative stress were measured in diet-induced NASH mice. Adropin knock-out mice and palmitate treated primary hepatic cells were used to investigate the influence of adropin on liver injury. Our results show that serum adropin levels were decreased and negatively correlated with liver injury in NASH mice. Knockout of adropin significantly exacerbated hepatic steatosis, inflammatory responses and fibrosis in mice after either methionine-choline deficient diet (MCD) or western diet (WD) feeding. And the treatment with adropin bioactive peptides ameliorated NASH progression in mice. Adropin alleviated hepatocyte injury by upregulating the expression of Gclc, Gclm, and Gpx1 in a manner dependent on Nrf2 transcriptional activity and by increasing the glutathione (GSH) levels. And adropin significantly increased CBP expression and promoted its binding with Nrf2, which enhanced Nrf2 transcriptional activity. Furthermore, AAV8-mediated overexpression of hepatic Nrf2 expression functionally restored the liver injury induced by adropin-deficiency MCD-fed mice. These findings provide evidence that adropin activates Nrf2 signaling and plays a protective role in liver injury of NASH and therefore might represent a novel target for the prevention and treatment of NASH.

Keywords: GSH; Lipotoxicity; NASH; Nrf2; ROS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / drug therapy*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • Antioxidants
  • Enho protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Proteins